Chocolates, Waffles, and More...A Day in Brussels
Trip Start Dec 18, 2010
13Trip End Dec 29, 2010
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By lunchtime we were ready to venture out and start exploring the city of Brussels by day light. Initially planning to meet up with our travel partners, we realized we had totally different itineraries for the day, so we bid farewell and set off to explore the city on our own. The first order of business was lunch. Upon Heidi's recommendation, we went to the old town square where we found a cozy little restaurant with a seat right by the fire place. We ordered delicious grilled ham and cheese sandwiches and shared asparagus soup (the soup choices in Germany and Belgium have been amazing and the climate is perfect for a hot bowl of soup!)
We decided to use an RS guided walk to begin our exploration but having done some of the walk on Christmas Eve, we adlibbed a bit and wondered where our interests took us. Diligently doing our duty as tourists we stopped by a Belgium chocolate store and partook in the obscenely delicious chocolate truffles that we chose ourselves. With chocolate covering our faces and fingers, we continued our walk in search of the Manneken Pis…yes the famous and obligatory tourist stop showing the statue of the little boy who pees. Legend has it (there are several, this is the one we like) that the little boy helped put out a town fire with his natural resources and the town folks, being forever grateful, erected a statue of the famous event. The statue is hugely famous and popular and attracts visitors from around the world (including those from Los Angeles). To help fully appreciate the experience, we just had to stop by the Belgian waffle shop next to the statue and partake in another obligatory tourist attraction…the Belgian waffle! A truly delightful experience…warm thick waffle covered with whipped cream, chocolate sauce and strawberries! How we have gone so long without this world wonder, we do not know. Feeling high on sugar, and after throwing our wish-filled coin into the statue’s fountain, we continued on our journey.
We wondered away from the tourists into a part of town that seemed frequented by locals only. Appreciating the calm and quiet of the deserted street, we started to realize that police officers were everywhere…Dan made the comment that we must be in a "good" part of town to have so much protection everywhere…Casey, feeling otherwise made the comment that maybe we were heading into a part of town that wasn’t so safe if there were so many police around! However, with our curiosity overtaking our common good sense, we continued on, getting closer and closer to the police commotion ahead. Noticing a large group of people chanting and holding flags, we decided to stop and ask one of the officers what was going on. In very broken English, she told us that it was a pro Palestinian protest marching through the streets. Feeling as curious as ever, we continued on and met up with the protesters and watched as they marched by. Flags were waving everywhere; women and men were chanting in various languages and the police presence was strong. Trailing in the back after a huge gap in the long line of protesters were pro Israel protesters countering the pro Palestinians. We were enthralled and thought about how proud RS would have been to know that we strayed away from the “safety” of the typical tourist itinerary to witness the locals in political action.
After the marchers passed by, we continued on our journey through Brussels. Traversing through deserted parks and streets and into several large cathedrals, we finally made our way to the upper part of town where the Palace of the King and Queen is situated. The palace was grand and ornate and it sits in front of a vast park, which of course we explored and had some fun snow ball target practicing. Feeling cold and in need of a bit of rejuvenation, we headed back to our hotel where we met up with our travel group for some wine and beer in front of the hotel bar's warm fireplace
Feeling ready for our evening to begin, we all freshened up for our last dinner in Brussels. We had a reservation at the very posh Belga Queen…the place where you go to see and be seen in Brussels. We started our dinning adventure in the bar where Casey tried, and liked (!) her first Belgian beer (Frambois with raspberries…of course it was a fruit beer…baby steps). Dinner was yummy, but the highlight of the evening was exploring the restaurant's bathroom! Scott feeling intrigued went into the co-ed restroom first. Not knowing exactly how to proceed, he came out in search of a bathroom companion who would dare to go in with him. Dan volunteered and came out immediately requesting that Casey “go try it out!” Of course feeling curious, Casey went in…as with most bathrooms in Germany and Belgium, the wash area is co-ed and the stalls delineating a separate area are minimal. However, what made this restroom so unique was that the stalls were transparent! So…feeling adventurous Dan and Casey went into the stalls, hoping for some magical cover to appear, when wah-la, once the lock was turned on the door, the walls of the stall instantly turned opaque.
We ended our evening in the hotel lobby overlooking Brussels with a nightcap of wine and chocolates. Although wishing we could stay another day in Brussels (our short stop did not quite do this historic and interesting city justice), we were all eager for the next leg of our journey…Bad Homburg and the relaxing spa and baths that awaited us. We bid farewell and headed up to our rooms for a good night’s rest, eagerly awaiting our travel day tomorrow back to Germany.
Dan and Casey