Sunday, May 29, 2011

Brussels - Days 1 & 3: Hi, We're In Delaware

I would like to preface this post with a quote from the Brussels Office of Tourism's pamphlet:

"If you're looking for a city break full of surprises and unusual feelings,
then Brussels is ideal for you!"

Everybody remembers that part in Wayne's World with the blue screen, right? Wayne and Garth ad lib stereotypical comments about each location that flashes behind them like Hawaii and New York, but when they come to Delaware they are kind of ... speechless.

In case you aren't sure where I'm going with this, Brussels was our Delaware. Maybe it wasn't Brussels's fault ...maybe anything seems dull compared with the excitement and bustle of London and Paris ... but I'm inclined to think that Brussels really isn't so great. Brussels is the known as the "capital of Europe," it's over a 1,000 years old, the EU is headquartered here ... sounds promising, right?

Here's the short run-down of how our visit went:
  • 11am or so arrival. Check into our airbnb flat, get settled, and strike out for the historic main old square.
  • 12pm. Hit the square, look around, take some pictures. Meander into the side streets; discover only tourist trap restaurants, look around bewildered.
  • 1pm. Venture further out of the tourist area. Mostly empty, unremarkable streets, starts getting a bit dodgy.
  • 1:30pm. Stop for a beer (this will be a recurrent activity throughout our visit).
  • 2:00pm. Walk another direction. Still same as above. Head back toward our flat, see a bowling alley, say, "Why not?"
And that was Brussels.

The airbnb flat was pretty cool, though. Very Design*Sponge.

Belgium beer #1 of .... countless.

On the way to the Square


I couldn't locate the name of this rectangular garden. Very pretty! Judging by the various postcards we saw, it changes with each season.

I have no idea.

Everywhere we visited in Europe was super into Easter decor.

At the Grand Place at last.

Pretty awesome sign.

This statue is quite famous.

Where we found strong (but unique) black tea for Hannah after finding nothing novel in London.

Looking back on these pictures, it's more visually-appealling than you would expect based on my description, right? Again, maybe Paris and London skewed us. Regardless, this is where we ended up....

That was that. Back to exploring the streets.

Extremely bizarre, but really awesome street performers who seemed to be acting out something along the lines of a Flemish Waiting for Godot. I wish I had on video what happened next: the one in the red started "interacting" with Will from afar, and they seemed to be throwing or spitting things back at each other. When I later inquired what the exchange was all about, Will replied, "magical head-butting." But of course.

As dusk settled in, we headed back to our neighborhood for some delicious thin crust pizza and wine, and called it an evening.

On Day 2, we headed to the unforgettable little city of Brugges, but it will get its own post later. On to Day 3, where we gave Brussels another sporting try.

Checking out Toone, a pub/puppet theater (it was closed so we didn't go in).

And we've come full circle.

What else to do now but go to the comfy cafe around the corner with a vast selection of beers and read Harry Potter for the remainder of the day?

We are adept at curing boredom.

So, yep. That was Brussels.

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