Sunday, 13 June 2010

Brilliant Days Out in Belgium, Part 3

You are hungry for news of the Belgian elections, I am sure but first let me take you on a magical journey of discovery to a place of childlike wonder. It has been a long time since we did our interactive tour of the Cartoon Museum, but rest assured there are other places just as splendidly entertaining.


It's like Europe! But .. smaller.

Come, take my hand, let us wander, wide-eyed through this paradise.

This is Germany. The digger slowly, painfully, lurches towards the Berlin Wall and a topples a tiny chunk of masonry. I can only speculate that it must have kicked loose at some point and toppled the gentleman lying face down to the right.

The rich culture and history of the Baltic is represented here with a Coke lorry for Latvia.

The cranes on this tremendous oil rig (representing, I think, Norway) sway backwards and forwards in the stiff Heysel breeze.

Sadly I failed to get a picture of the c1982 Intercity 125 complete with British Rail logo that was being used to represent the Eurostar. That alone is worth your entrance fee.

I do not want to spoil it for your inevitable visit by showing you too many of the sights of this once-in-a-lifetime experience. But I would be derelict in my duty towards you, reader, if I did not give you a taste of this, the answer to that perennially troubling question "how to make the European institutions fun and relevant to the under 8s?".

Worry no longer, Mini-Europe has ALL the answers.

Spin the founding fathers of the European Union and enter a wonderland of democratic deficit!

Lashes is always hungry for more clarity on the separation of powers between the institutions. With these handy tools he now knows in a highly visual and, yes, fun, way, that "Parliament gives an opinion or uses the co-decision procedure depending on the subject matter in debate". Look how happy he is!

This clear exposition of the legislative competence of the European Commission will give him an edge in the rough and tumble of the playground.

Even young Fingers can really get to grips with compliance and enforcement by the Commission with this bright, tactile tool.

Lashes thrills to discover that the fifteenth round of enlargement was the largest to date.

The best is yet to come. On these state of the art touch screens, children can play a European Union policy themed game of snakes and ladders.

Now then, Fingers, do you remember about tariff exemptions for ACP countries importing into the European Union? Good boy!

Enforcement proceedings in front of the European Court of Justice? No problem!

And as for high speed maritime networks, they hold no mysteries for us.

Finally, in an exuberant climax to your visit, you can put the Protocols to the Treaty of Lisbon in the right order using this fun, life-sized game!*

(*Ok, that one - and ONLY that one - is a lie. You had to put the crochets in the right place in a score of the Ode to Joy. I SWEAR this is true).

Tariff: €13,50 for adults, €9,80 for children (high five from a man in an orange nylon tortoise suit thrown in for free).

Opening Hours: Daily, 10-6

Alternatives: Curling up on the sofa with the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, unabridged. Kissing Jose Manuel Barroso WITH TONGUES. Death.


Lisa-Marie said...

Your children look like they are quite enjoying the really rubbish learning.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget, there has recently been a Commission thingy (and this is true)called Banana Accompanying Measures....I'm putting my money on toffee sauce as the most popular.. you??

Bryony said...

if only we hadn't booked to go to Croatia this year....sigh...

soleils said...

I actually cannot believe such an "attraction" exists. Please tell me you made it all up. I think if I took my boys there, they would turn against me at some point, unless I promised vast quantities of ice-cream and cake afterwards.

Is there a shop? If so, what on earth can you buy in it? That picturesque Latvian Coke truck? Fridge magnets of straight cucumbers/bananas (with Anon's toffee sauce)?

Betty M said...

This has had me spluttering muffin all over the keyboard I've been laughing so hard - you have surpassed yourself!

Em said...

My brother-in-law and family lived in Belgian a few years ago and NEVER told us any of the things you do. You've sold it to me - an interactive tour and lots and lots and lots and lots of stuff about stuff. And the excitement on your boys' faces! Love it!

Beatrice said...

Points of particular interest on EP agenda next week:

- Trade in goods used for torture
- Sport, specifically concerning players' agents
- Internet of Things.

As regards Latvia and Coke, it's an example of 'hidden' advertising
which is a result of succesful lobbying, supported by efficient financial donations to officals in Foreign Affairs ministry of Latvia. (Sir, you get a new car, but we put that little truck just in the background. No one will ever notice! Think of your new shiny BMW...)
Little investment, low risk, significant's the second pic from Mini-Europe where Latvia = Coke truck.

Elsie said...

From NYTimes last Thursday (sorry can't check archives from current site): "AS the seat of the European Union, Brussels gets its share of gray suits pouring off the Eurostar. Luckily, the ties come off after work. Beneath the buttoned-down facade is a lively capital that follows its own sartorial trends, indulges in decadent flavors (especially when it involves beer) and exhibits a witty, even wacky sense of humor. What other city would erect an entire museum to a single comic book series? Or to an artist famous for painting faceless men in gray suits?"

the polish chick said...


Kate said...

Oh. my. god. My mother has pictures of that place from when she was a child and lived in Belgium.

carolinefo said...

Waffle, this post leads to me believe that in reality you are incarcerated in a locked ward somewhere, and creating this insane, surreal world of Belgiana with Photoshop, using your tongue to manipulate the keyboard because YOUR ARMS ARE TIED UP IN THE STRAITJACKET.

This Belgiana of yours can only be a dystopian fantasy, the product of a deeply disturbed mind whose sanity has been irretrievably destroyed by the adverse biochemical effects of the consumption of salted caramel products in industrial quantities.

Eat more yogurt, sweetheart - you know it makes sense.

Jessica said...

Were it only a dream.

Simon said...

For those unable to make it over to Brussels and therefore tragically denied the full glory of Mini-Europe, I posted a load of photos here when a friend came to visit.

From Belgium said...

Only in Belgium do we manage to make education 'fun'.

Alienne said...

I think you have found something to surpass the supreme awfulness of the "It's a small world after all' thingy at Eurodisney. I am sure it is all only too true, but have a horrible feeling my teenagers would murder me if I inflicted it on them. I shall have to wait for grandchildren till I can visit.

Iheartfashion said...

I can't believe I've been to Belgium and missed Mini-Europe! I love the expressions on Lashes and Fingers. My two wouldn't be nearly so compliant. Please tell me you bribed them with Kinder eggs.

jessb said...

When I was in Manila a year or so back for a 'Euro-geek' conference, there was a shopping centre filled with "Have a Happy EU Christmas" signage and EU-elves (cut outs of Christmas elves decorated in EU flag baubles that you could stick your head through and have a picture taken as said elf). I didn't think anything would ever top that in terms of EU propagandistic brilliance, but you have trumped me dear Waffle!

Alison Cross said...

Did you PAY your chldren to look so happy?! Mine only looks that happy if he's had a furtive look down a lady's top.

Education is truly a wunnerful thing. Belgiana has totally nailed learning thru fun. LEGOLAND take heed.

Ali x

Xtreme English said...

They should send a special invitation to George W. Bush, former president of 'Merca. This would be just his speed.

Fat Controller said...

Why would you know what a c.1982 Intercity 125 looks like, in comparison to a Eurostar? I supect you to be a closet gricer.

Denmark has the entire world laid out as islands in a lake and you can hire rowing boats to go around it, or have picnics in different continents. Beat that for naff!

Anonymous said...

Aren't kissing Barroso with tongues and death synonymous? (Well, close enough...?)
Pat in Belgium (tongue safely behind tightly clenched teeth)

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