So here's just about everything you need to know about Belgium in a quick lil summary:
- The waffles will change your life. This is not a drill.
- They are not messing around with the number of different kinds of beer and chocolate you can try. If either of these things are "your thing," Belgium is a must.
- The fries are bomb, but you can get the same ones in Amsterdam. A little anti-climactic.
My trip to Brussels began at 3pm on Thursday, when I boarded my third transnational bus and hunkered down for the short, four-hour ride. Redemption came in witnessing the most unreal Belgian countryside sunset ever on my ride over. It was like beholding one of the seven world wonders for the temporal duration of twenty minutes. It was so gorgeous.
I arrived in Brussels feeling #blessed, only to be further reinforced by my reuniting with the one and only, my other half and PIC, Jacqueline! We had a delish Italian dinner in the city center, then grabbed our first, but surely not last, beer at Delirium (Red, if you were wondering). We finished the day strong with an international house pregame and a night out at an Irish bar called Celtica, where we got DOWN on the d flo.
Friday morning was a slow one. I opened my phone to look for clues as to a somewhat hazy night. On my notepad, timestamped at 2:27am, I had written: "Songs for women." What does it mean? Why did I feel compelled to note this in the wee hours of the morning? The world may never know. We die laughing on the metro, surely looking like the hungover fools that we are.
For sustenance, we grab a quick snack at EXK, a wicked healthy food chain and my absolute #1 European obsession, before heading to a tiny little waffle stand, where I tried my first authentic Belgian waffle. Words can't even explain the magic that took place with this first bite. Time stopped, and my feet lifted off the ground as I floated on a cloud in sugar-laden, carb heaven. I told my mom it changed my life. She laughed, but I wasn't joking. I'm not even embarrassed to say I got a second one within minutes of finishing the first. Rejecting that #cabobody with every bite.
Next on the itinerary: catch a train to Bruges. We thought we'd accomplished this task seamlessly, until the ticket checker man came to stamp our tickets and informed us that we were mistakenly in first class. There is literally zero indication that this stupid car is any more prestigious than a second class one, but we are forced to pay the difference in our tickets. Bye eight euros. Bye two beers that could have been.
In Bruges, we explored shops and took in the beautiful architecture, which I think is a perfect mix between the styles in Amsterdam and Brussels. We went to the adorable Cafe Rose Red, where we sampled Belgian gueuze beer and a super dark 13% variety. More exploring led us to dinner at the Humpty Dumpty Tearoom, where I tried traditional Flemish beef stew. It was so, so delicious, but when the check came, they had charged me for water and condiments. I was pretty miffed, as the double extra charges clouded an otherwise fantastic culinary experience. Damnit, Europe.
After our train home, we grabbed PBs and drunchies (ahead of the game, baby) in preparation for the night. We went into the night hoping for hotties, but after trying both O'Reiley's and Celtica, we concluded that the cute Belgian men must stay in on Friday nights. Or simply not exist. We got doner kebap and called it a night. The more profound conclusion: You can always count on food; a man is a different story.
Saturday morning, Jax and I woke from our respective ends of the bed (sleeping head to foot, like some real ass yin and yang), ready for a day of walking and sight-seeing. We grabbed amazing sandwiches on fresh baguettes for 2.50 euros, then trekked through the blazing, 60 degree heat to Parc du Cinquantenaire. Such park, many beauty. Next was the Grand Place, which we toured pretty extensively. I got my 3rd waffle. No one is surprised.
We ended our tour de Bruxelles at the Atomium, with Belgian beer and a little box of Mediterranean candies. It turns out the park below is perfect for a makeshift picnic and people watching. Our one recommendation: bring a bottle opener. We looked like cavemen slamming our bottles on the pavement edges, and there were children around. Lol, whoops.
On our final night out, Jax and I hit the town solo. We grabbed our second drink at Delirium, where we engaged in a fairly impassioned conversation about feminism and women's rights, etc., only to be repeatedly interrupted by a man trying to hit on us. The irony.
In an effort to escape the misogynistic masses crowding Delirium, we revisited O'Reily's, where we ordered Snakebites, smoked a leisurely cigarette on the terrace and made the acquaintance of a kind, old, Turkish man. Our new friend confided that he should definitely quit smoking, but that "up to ten cigarettes a day is fine. Your lungs can handle ten a day." Ok doctor, thanks for the advice.
Sunday was cut short by my 3:30 pm bus departure, but we managed to cover some solid ground anyway. We had a late brunch at Le Pain, incredible open-faced sandwiches that are very characteristic of Europe. Next, we headed to the European Distract. We meandered until we found the European Parliament buildings, stumbling upon beautiful parks and churches along the way. The European Parliament was massive and really cool to see. Like, Europe does very important things there!!
Before my au revoir, I posed with Manneken "Peace" and savored my fourth and potentially last (brb sobbing) Belgian waffle. I arrived at the station super early. Jax has already missed three trains at this point, and I'm absurdly cautious, making us a diligent duo when it comes to catching means of transportation! It does absolute wonders for my travel anxiety.
Cheers to another fantastic weekend with excellent company. Like Mom always says, I am one lucky girl.