The land of Chocolate and Beer
Trip Start Dec 06, 2009
55Trip End Feb 05, 2010
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Where I stayed
Hotel the Moon
We jumped on a train to the Brussels central station in Belgium which took around two hours. We arrived in Brussels and checked into our hotel which was basic but nice enough. The hotel was in a great location a short walk from the train station and in a quiet square just next to all the shops and restaurants. Free wireless internet in the room is something that we really look for in a hotel now and it is nice to sit in the room and read all your comments and emails. This place had free breakfast as well and just came under our budget.
We first walked to the grand place which I thought was stunning. The buildings surrounding the square were amazing and covered in gold highlights. The streets off the square are full of Belgian specialty chocolate shops. There is one on every corner and they are all open late and great to browse in - unfortunately not much free tasting here. Belgian chocolate is much richer than the chocolate we are used to back at home. I think because we love our lindt milk chocolate so much the chocolate we've had here tastes a lot stronger and has a slight bitter taste to it.
Of course Belgium is also known for its waffles which we had to indulge in. Nothing better than a hot waffle covered in Belgium chocolate, cream, ice-cream, banana and strawberries. Brussels is not a particularly cheap place and with so many chocolate, beer, mussels and waffle places the money seems to fly out of your pocket! We went and saw the famous statue of the peeing boy (basically a metal sculpture of a boy with water shooting out of his pee hole) which also appeared on many touristy t-shirts including several offensive but funny versions. Ly and I couldnt see what the fuss was about.
Another food which Belgium is known for is frites which we had already eaten plenty of in Holland. They are usually served in a paper cone and are the old style thick chips of all shapes. There are lots of sauces to pick from and my favourite has the ambigious title of 'special sauce' and is tomato sauce, onion and mayonaise. I don't think I could every get sick of chips. Two years of Charcoal Chicken chips for lunch during college proved that!
For dinner we went for more frites and moules (mussels) at a local pub. I love mussles but at around $40 for a small bowl we were sure to fill up on the frites. I also ordered a beer degustation at the pub to experience a variety of beers. They were all made at the pub and were mostly good although I never really like beers that have a fruity taste.
After dinner I convinced Ly that going to another pub for more beer was the best way to spend the night. After some research we ended up at a well known Cafe in Brussels called Delerium which was close to our hotel. The place has over 2000 beers on the menu more than any other pub in the world! Most are bottled but they also have around 50 beers on tap which they need as they can fit hundreds of people in there. I sampled a few and they were all good but so strong. At around 10% (mainly the triples) these beers really go straight to the head. I tried a few of the Trappist beers including Westmalle and Chimay which are all brewed under the supervision of Trappist monks. They are bottled with sugar and yeast remaining which means they continue to improve in the bottle. There are only 7 trappist brewries left of which 6 are in Belgium. I would love to come back some day and do a few beer tours. As usual the pub was full of smoke and it makes me wonder how I used to go out in Australia and not even notice the smoke.
On the way home I bought a few more beers for supper. Needless to say I slept very heavily!
We would definately go to Brussels again, although the city is small and I think you would easily run out of things to do here. Its no surprise either that Belgium people have the highest incidence of diabetes. So it musnt be just tourists who are keeping those lovely boutique chocolate shops in business then!
Daniel & Ly