Thursday, December 2, 2010

My European Adventure - Part IV: Brussels

So after the Great Train Ticket Debacle, we arrived in Brussels around 4:00 in the late afternoon.
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In the months before our trip, Uberman and I watched a million travel shows on Brussels. It looked so quaint and charming. The cobblestone streets, the old buildings, the store fronts selling waffles and chocolates. And the beer! We could not wait to try the beer. It was like we went to Berlin and Amsterdam for the history and culture, but we went to Brussels to eat and drink. I mean really, what else is there to do there?
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But Brussels is like the Washington DC of Europe. The European Union is there, as well as NATO. So I was expecting this fancy, cosmopolitan city full of nothing but interesting business people and rich tourists.
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Sometimes I can be so stupid.
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The moment we stepped out of the train station, I realized how naive I was. There were a lot of young guys standing around, between the ages of maybe 15 and 19, watching people as they left the train station to find buses or taxis or whatever. I immediately felt uncomfortable and Kenny and Ubes started reminding me and Dee to make sure our backpacks were closed. Although it was only a little after 4:00, it was already getting dark and we wondered how long we would have to stand there waiting for our bus.
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A bus approached, but it was going the opposite direction from where we needed to go. And just as it stopped, one of the kids near the station entrance ran up to a woman standing behind us, grabbed the necklace off of her neck and ran across the street to get on that bus.
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We stood there in shock. The woman calmly pulled out her cell phone and began making a call. No one did anything to help her. No one ran after the boy. No one even stopped to ask if she was okay. And being American tourists with our arms full of luggage, we felt powerless and vulnerable. I felt sick. But honestly, that's all part of travelling. It's just so shocking when it happens right in front of you.
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One hour and an interesting bus ride later, we had checked into our hotel and were back out looking for a place to eat. We ended up in a cozy little corner restaurant near the Grand Place.



After a dinner of mussels, frites and Kriek beer, we walked around the little streets surrounding the Grand Place and then had drinks at the Delirium Cafe (below), before going back to the hotel.
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The next morning went back to the Grand Place for a tour of the brewers guild museum.





Then we did some shopping, and a whole lot more eating and drinking.
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It was amazing. Despite our initial introduction to the city, Brussels was lovely. The people were so friendly and so eager to talk to us. Although they speak both French and Flemmish, everyone spoke English as well. We never really had any communication issues. I would do a few things differently next time, like not lose the train tickets, stay in a hotel closer to the Grand Place and skip the frites with mayonnaise (although the frites were devine, the mayo on top was totally gross and not worth the extra calories).

I only wish we had more time to spend eating in this beautiful city.



The Grand Place was definitely my favorite. I loved how it looked completely different during the day and at night.
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And of course, I loved everyone's favorite attraction in Brussels, Mannekin Pis.


I would love to go back to Brussels. And I will. Because those waffles were AMAZING.

1 comment:

DutchMac said...

The 'frites met mayo' is an acquired taste. I was totally grossed out by the idea when I moved across the pond 10+ years ago.

Now, unfortunately, I get the attraction. Especially when you also add raw chopped onions on top. That's when you really make the rounds, offending not only your arteries and waistline, but everyone in your immediate vicinity as well.