Thursday, March 25, 2010

Chocolate, Waffles, and Beer…Oh MY!

So last weekend I hopped on a train down to Brussels.  It should be noted that it took two hours.  It takes longer than that to get out of California, and here I am already in another country.  Anyway, Brussels is in Belgium…Belgium is like the younger brother of Holland.  It’s still part of the “Benelux” family – that’s BElgium, NEtherlands, and LUXemburg.  (Luxemburg is unfortunately the red headed stepchild of the family.)  But it’s less well known, not nearly as cool, and a band nerd…whoops, getting personal.
Anyway, Brussels is the EU capital.  EU being the European Union.  That thing that’s trying to run a continent…well the western half…well the western half, minus a couple countries who are being butts about it.  But no one really cares about that…because why would you when everyone is busying shoving some of the most delicious food ever down their throats?
The people of Brussels are Dutch or French.  If you’re Dutch, you speak French, English, and “Flemish” (also known as the “I’m not Hollish” version of Dutch.)  The French speak…well…French.  They’re kind of snotty that way.  One of the French guys I met even told me so.  Although he was the exception.  Not snotty, and spoke English.  Also my CS host.  Also his friends.  Ok, maybe the first guy got it wrong.  Anyway, I met Lily on the train and we headed down together.  She was meeting a friend, so we spent some time wandering the city before parting ways.  We had a lovely afternoon on a terrace in the main square surrounded by beautiful buildings, people watching, beer tasting, and trying desperately to pretend not to be Americans (we were sitting next to really annoying ones.)
I then met up with my above mentioned couch surfing host who was having a CS party that night...perfect!  I met a bunch of new people from all over, had delicious pancakes, and listened to a great jam session.  Well as much as I could before falling asleep.  I was really tired apparently.  But the next day, I helped clean up and said goodbye to my favorite host ever…
Oh and also his owner…
Then I was free to wander the city.  I went up to the top of a parking structure where I had a 360 degree view of the city.  I could see all the way to the Atomium…
See it out there?  The cube like thing?  The Atomium was built when the world fair came to Brussels.  People say it’s Belgium’s version of the Eiffel Tower.  But lets just say that the French people living there do NOT like that comparison.  But in a way it is…built for a world’s fair, can be see from almost any window in Belgium, and looks no different up close than it does from far away.  And once you’re there, you’re like “well there it is.”  Ok I have yet to go to the Eiffel Tower.  So I’ll get back to you on this comparison.
I also went and saw the Mannequin Pis…
Yea that’s write…translation – Peeing Man.  Well it’s really more of a peeing baby.  And there’s nothing special.  But oh man do they worship that thing.  They have made chocolates, cork screws, statues, everything.  Some of them are actually bigger than the actual statue...
Really it’s just sad.  Which is why I bought a chocolate and a statue.  And since they realized there is a market for urinating figures, there’s also a peeing woman (I do not find her) and a peeing dog…
Yep.  I also went and saw the Royal Palace.  It was big…that’s really all there is to say…
Plus I saw a beautiful church...
And of course, the theater...
And look Grammy!
And I went to the Bozar museum and saw an El Greco exhibit. It was pretty impressive, I have to say.  I wanted to see the Frida Kahla exhibit, but it was sold out.  And I found a great used book shop.  And a great not-used bookshop where apparently they make a mean cappuccino.  Well I had to try that out, so I bought a book I’ve been meaning to buy for a while now, sat down, and enjoyed an afternoon coffee.  And it was lovely.  On my walk back however I noticed something interesting.  Can you see what I see? (You made need to click on it to make the picture bigger)
Before I headed home, I went to this highly recommended Tai place that was super cheap.  I sat in my little corner with my book sipping my wine, slurping my soup, and chowing down on my noodles. AND only paid 12 Euros.  I’d say the day was a huge success.
But you know what?  You don’t really care about all that do you?  Because you want to know about the four most important things…beer, fries, waffles, and chocolate.
So we’ve all heard of Belgium Beer.  Many of us have had it.  But have you ever had cherry beer?  No not Sam Adam’s Cherry Wheat or anything like it, but literally Cherry juice…made into beer.  Known to some (read: Lily) as candy beer.  It was pretty delicious.
And of course fries…but you know what?  The Netherlands makes them just as good.  So that was no big deal.  But at least I can say that I’ve had them.
Then there are the waffles.  They’re just as good as you think they would be…but better.  And they’re topped with fruit, chocolate, whipped cream, nuts, anything and everything.  However, if you want to not look like a tourist, then you get one with just powdered sugar.  But I was a tourist, so who cares?
But then…oh then…oh sweet Lord then…there is the chocolate.  Store after store of delicate morsels tempting you in every way.  We ended up going into every store and just buying one chocolate from each.  Each bite, pure heaven.  There was a cinnamon one that literally made me stop walking and scream.  I was good enough not to buy a whole lot, because the ones I did buy, that were lucky enough to make it out the store, were devoured (in a worshiping type of way) on the train ride home.  Sigh…I will go back just for that.  Oh and check out my favorite store…
I know it’s not the right spelling but this is Europe.
So Brussels was lovely.  I’m glad I made it out there.  And I’m glad I got chocolate.  And I’m glad there are other exciting cities in Belgium that are also a cheap weekend trip away…mainly so I can get more chocolate.  Did I mention that the chocolate is delicious?  Just thought I’d let you know.

Word of the Day: Chocolat/Chocolade – Chocolate (French/Dutch)


  1. I'm totally jealous of all your train hopping! You've been to some great places!

  2. That looks great. I haven't been to Belgium, but I envy your ability to just skip out for a weekend and go see some new stuff (though I guess Tokyo is only a 2 hour flight for me). The architecture looks mostly French with a bit of Dutch thrown in there - is that accurate?

    How expensive was stuff there?

  3. Yummm those chocolates we had were a dream. And then the fruity beer...lekkerrrrrr!

  4. Oh I am so envious! What a lovely day and a great travelog. Belgium....someday.


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