April 9, 2012

SIGHTSEEING: Mini-Europe

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Located 25 minutes via metro outside the center of Brussels is Mini-Europe. At a glance, it appears part cool miniature golf course, part Epcot and part small child entertainment.

Upon entering, however, it contains the highlights of every major city in the EU that you never managed to get to, as well as some side notes that you won’t be so sad you missed the first time. Seeing the main attractions makes the excursion worth it, though.

Built to scale, Mini-Europe has everything from the Berlin Wall to the Dover Cliffs to the TGV that connects London’s Big Ben to Paris’ Eiffel Tower. Interactive features spot the way, including a lady jumping into a lake and the opportunity to guide a boat on the Venice Canal. The exhibition “The Spirit of Europe” highlights the successes of the European Union, explains the Euro and details the overarching history of the European Union.

There are sound effects throughout the park to make the exhibitions appear lifelike. The floor, for instance, shakes as you approach Vesuvius. Even at 1/25 of original size, the monuments can be extremely impressive as you stand next to them. Each detail is accurately portrayed in the statues, and the cathedrals, monuments, and towers stand well above your head.

Despite traveling during my time abroad, there are many places in Europe that I will never have the opportunity to see. After visiting Mini-Europe, I’ve had a glimpse at some of these and learned about them through the extremely helpful guidebook.

While there is no replacement for experiencing different places and cultures first hand, hitting up Mini-Europe allows visitors to embrace a wide range of monuments and attractions.

After living in London for the past four months, standing next to the House of Parliament and Big Ben four meters tall instead of 96 meters certainly gives you a different vantage point.

When in Brussels, take a break from eating French fries and chocolate and head over to Mini-Europe. You’ll be glad you did.

Rebecca Bogatin is a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences. She may be reached at rbogatin@cornellsun.com. Notes from Abroad: Sightseeing appears on Tuesdays.

Original Author: Rebecca Bogatin