Again, apologies all around that the pictures are not in order and that this is a little late in updating. The WiFi here at our hotel is not the fastest by any means.
Today, we enjoyed our time in Brussels (Bruxelles if you’re fancy or speak French), which is in Belgium. It was an amazing day spent simply exploring the city around the Stock Market Building and the Grand Place plaza. Brussels is a beautiful, interesting city, and if anyone ever tries to tell me otherwise, I might have to pinch them.
We spent about 3 hours on an English-language tour of the city with a huge group with SANDEMANS New Europe; it was utterly fascinating to hear about the history of the city. Some of its buildings date back 700 years or more, and have survived bombardments, revolutions, and wars. The beer guild that was in place 500 years ago is still around today. Yes, I tried Beligian beer – Duuvel, from a bottle, which tasted a lot like PBR (drinkable, but I don’t love beer, so…)
Mannekin-pis is an iconic statue in Brussels, and it is a fountain of a little boy urinating. One of the best things I learned today was all the stories about Mannekin-pis, most of which are highly entertaining, but equally unlikely. In the end, it seems that the whole phenomenon came about because tanners used to buy children’s urine for tanning hides. Well, you gotta do what you gotta do sometimes.
I bought some Belgian chocolate, and we drank Belgian hot chocolate. Unlike “normal” hot chocolate, which uses cocoa powder, Belgian hot chocolate is made by melting chocolate into warm milk. It is amazing. The free samples were good, too. Belgian macarons are tasty; my cassis macaron tasted very much like raspberry.
Of course, no trip to Belgium would be complete without tasting some of the other food as well. We ate frites (fries) with mayo – don’t ever call them “French” fries here; they will be upset – at Friteland, which is apparently the best place for fries in the city. We didn’t know that going in, but later, there were around 30 people waiting for fries and our tour guide told us that Friteland is good. Yay!
“Tourist” waffles are the most popular type of waffle in Brussels; we got some at a small window. Mine had chantilly (whipped cream) and strawberries. Of course they were delicious. How can fried sweet bread covered with cream and strawberries be bad?!
For dinner, we ate savory crepes at a small cafe a bit away from the city center. When we asked to order, the hostess thought we wanted an English menu but voila! We figured out the French one. It’s good, too, because they didn’t have an English menu. I think it was a pretty legit restaurant, because everybody else there was speaking beautiful, fluent French. Our crepes were really good, too.
My accent is atrocious, but the little French I either knew or picked up here must be understandable, because everybody keeps speaking to me in French. Amazing what a few “pardons,” “mercis,” and “bonsoirs” will do. Plus, context is almost more important for figuring what’s going on.
Besides the guided group tour and the eating, we bought some postcards and did a self-guided tour of the Brussels Museum. Everything has been beautiful and fun, and everyone has been super kind and welcoming and helpful. The only exception was our idiot cabbie last night who drove us to the wrong hotel, across town. It was an expensive hotel, too, one I definitely can’t afford. A big “merci!” to the reception staff who so kindly helped us find our way to our hotel.
Excited for more fun adventures this week!
Thoughts on Belgium:
-Oh My God, that smells amazing
-No seriously, what is that? Can I eat it?
-THIS WHOLE CITY SMELLS LIKE FRESH WAFFLES AND CHOCOLATE
-I need to find an eligible Belgian prince to marry
-Are anchor babies the answer?
-These buildings are beautiful
-So easy to walk here
-Um, is that guy pissing…?
-Yep, he’s definitely taking a piss
-Yum yum yum yum yum
-Fascinating history and culture
-But that food though….