October 20 2016
This past weekend I went to Belgium for the first time! I was so excited because my twin sister had been there anddd everyone would not stop going on about the waffles.
And let me tell you, they were not exaggerating.
My friend and I arrive on Friday morning after taking a flight from Madrid (where we made the BLD (bad-life-decision) to stay up far too late). We stumble off the plane and into a cafe, trying to figure out how to get from point A to point B spending the least amount of money.
Here’s the thing about travel that I have learned over time. Sometimes the in-between portions can be the most expensive. What do I mean by this? Taxi ride from airport to hostel. Bus from home to airport. Train from where you are to where you need to be. You get the point. And here, living in the middle of no where (and saying that with love), it all add’s up.
We took the bus, which took some figuring out because every airport is different. But props to Brussels because theirs felt like a shopping mall and food theme-park rolled into one.
Brussels is a beautiful city where, according to our tour guide, they have the rainy season from January 1st till December 31st. (Took me a minute to get it, too.) We were blessed to only have the freezing rains Friday night. Saturday and Sunday were gorgeous.
The city center of Brussels is beautiful. The architecture is very much its own and there is a kind of festivity in the air that is addictive. People there speak Dutch, French, and English. Wouldn’t we all be so lucky to be multilingual. As it is, I only speak one of those and thank God most others did as well.
We signed up for a free walking tour, which I recommend to everyone in every city that has them. Walking tours are my automatic go-to. They are a great way to know the stories behind the buildings and cities. To get recommendations on the best stores to visit, the best bars and restaurants, and where not to go. Plus, all the guides work for tip so they try to deliver and more often than not they do a great job. My all-time favorite walking tour was in Dublin. Amazing.
So at 2 we headed off, viewing the statue of the peeing boy (which actually isn’t bigger then my arm), amazing street art featuring the oldest comic in Belgium, Tin-Tin, the palace (which is considered quite small ((it’s not)) since the real one burned down and was never built back to its formal glory) and the central city square full of museums and old buildings.
Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert- funded by King Leopold when his court asked for a place to shop without being rained on.
Cathedral of Saint Michael.
The music museum that we sadly didn’t have time to visit. But the building itself is amazing!
After the tour we played tourist, visiting the many shops, including multiple chocolate shops. There is one that lets you try any of the chocolate before you buy it… so yah… hundreds of calories later.
We also stopped and got frites from one of the more popular shops. And they come with all kinds of different sauces; curry ketchup, mayonnaise, mustard… a long list of deliciousness and fat all rolled into one.
The best frites in Brussels
So there we are, walking along, and this gentleman slightly harasses us outside of his restaurant. He promises us delicious food, a place by the fire (it is raining and cold), and the first drink on him. I blame myself. I fell for it.
Ten minutes later we discover the free drink its maybe two sips of some weird pink wine, the menu isn’t the same one we looked at outside, and we no longer want anything to do with this place. The waitress/meanest woman in Brussels won’t let us leave until we pay for the ‘free’ drink which actually is 5 euro a piece and proceeds to argue with us for wayyy too long. We pay. We leave. We scold and fume and point fingers at said man who harassed us at the first. He throws his head and proceeds to tell us this is his second day on the job and how was he to know. (BULL, my friend, I’m calling bull.)
But the moral of the story is that thirty minutes later, amid pouring rain, freezing winds, and overall starvation, we stumble across the cutest little Italian restaurant on our way back to our AirBnB. They only spoke French there, and the food was fantastic. I watched the woman make my pizza from where I sat. The satisfaction of warmth, a meal, and the new-found ability to laugh at my earlier gullibility ended the night perfectly.
Shortly after we slept the sleep of those that walked 12 miles on 3 hours of sleep.
Here completes day one.
The pictures truly don’t do it justice.
St. Michael casting down Satan. St. Michael is the patron Saint of my father, and it was amazing to see this statue and think of family and say a little prayer.