Mussels in Brussels

Trip Start Sep 11, 2008
Trip End Dec 19, 2008

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Tuesday, October 7, 2008

It took us about 2 hours in the car Vanessa's parents rented to get from Bruges to Brussels on Saturday. During the ride, Vanessa and I broke into our box of chocolate....yum. Then I kinda fell asleep, and when I woke up, we were in Brussels! Now, we were staying with Vanessa's dad's only cousin Corinne and her husband Darius. We had a little trouble finding their house because where we thought their house would be there was a big black gate. Corinne had her daughter ride her bike out to the gate to open it for us. As we drove in the gate, we got a view of their amazing grounds. Apparently, where their house now is used to be a veterinary school. All the building are now for sale, and they bought one and completely redid the inside. The buildings on the outside when you pull in look very creepy and haunted-house like. Vanessa compared it to the house in the movie The Orphanage, and if any of you have seen it, she was right! However, I guess Corinne is an interior decorator, and their home is amazing! It was a mixture of very old and antique feeling things with very modern and eclectic touches. Darius is Iranian, so there was a lot of middle eastern feeling elements to the decor. It was pretty much the coolest house I've ever been in.
When we got out of the car, we were immediately greeted by Corinne, who introduced her adorable daughter Nina, who is 8 years old. We also met Corinne's father-in-law, Manfred. Inside the house we met Darius, and their two sons, Julian, who is 5, and Benjamin, who is 2. All three children speak only French, and they were they cutest!!!! We played with them while dinner was being prepared. It was frustrating not to be able to speak to them or understand them, and the younger ones didn't really understand that there was a huge language barrier between us. They would yap away in French and did not understand why we weren't answering them. We needed their parents to translate for us.
Corinne cooked us traditional Iranian food for dinner and it was really good! Darius was very nice, but for some strange reason has a huge hatred for the Dutch. He kept asking us why we were studying in Holland, of all places! He said, "The Dutch, they live in their little square, clean houses, and their square clean yards! They don't know how to live!" It was pretty hilarious. After dinner I played with the kids some more while Vanessa sang with Darius on piano. The boys wanted me to chase them around the room, and when I caught them I would tickle them. Nina was taking pictures of me and Vanessa the whole time, and then I motioned for her to give me the camera so I could take one of us together. I got my camera too, and started taking pictures of her with her brothers. It was too cute. Apparently, Julian kept trying to tell me a joke, according to his grandmother, but I didn't understand it. Poor kid. Before too long, the kids had to go to bed. Then, Corinne took Vanessa, her parents, and I out into Brussels. They only live about 5 minutes outside the city center by car. We saw the city hall and a few other buildings in the Grand Place. We tried to find the Mannekan Pis (the famous statue of the little boy peeing), but there was some kind of Brazilian festival going on and it was packed with people. We couldn't find it. Instead, we went to the Mannekan Bar and had something to drink. I got a raspberry beer, which was really good! After that we headed back to the house. Vanessa and I slept in their basement where they have trundle beds.
The next morning we woke up and Corinne had gotten us all delicious pastries and coffee. After eating, Vanessa and I played with the kids some more. Turns out, they love High School Musical as much in Belgium as they do in the states! All three of them love that movie! Nina was so cute. She gave Vanessa and I each a pretty rock she had found, and then she put bindis on our foreheads. She put one on her forehead too. It was adorable.
Corinne and Darius took us out to lunch at a Beglian restaurant famous for its mussels. I ordered Mussels Provencale, and it was really good! I usually don't like seafood much, but I was pleasantly surprised at how good the mussels were. During lunch, we talked to Darius some more and played with the kids. Benjamin kept climbing under the table to see me and he would bite my knee. Then he started giving me all sorts of crumbs and pieces of garbage he found under the table. Nice kid! For dessert we got famous Belgian ice cream made from cinnamon and gingerbread. Delicious! I'm glad we listened to Darius on what to order. We had a lot of fun taking pictures of the kids and talking. PHOTO_ID_L=vanessa-and-benjamin.jpg]
After lunch we had to say goodbye to the family! It was too sweet. I got kisses and hugs from all the kids, and said "Au revoir!" How cute!!! After our many goodbyes and thank-yous, we walked around Brussels a bit more. We found Mannekan Pis! He is a little weird guy! He was dressed up in a costume from some other country, and he's just there peeing. Very strange. Anyway, we grabbed some postcards and walked around the Grand Place some more before heading back to the car and starting the drive home to the castle.
I was wayyy too spoiled by the Moyens, and I am going to have to do something very nice for them in return. Anyway, I am back at the castle now, but only for a short time! On Thursday we leave for Croatia, where we are going to Trogir and Dubrovnik. I really can't wait! Its going to be so much fun to travel with everyone! Then, a week from today (Tuesday) I begin my independent travel break with Kara and Vanessa! We are going to Budapest!!!! Its gonna be amazing!!! Cannot wait. Well, you'll here from me in a few weeks, since I won't be back until the 20th! Bye!
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