Mussels in Brussels

Trip Start Oct 16, 2007
Trip End Dec 16, 2007

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Flag of Belgium  ,
Sunday, October 31, 2010

Bussing to Brussels my mind revolved around 4 things: Lace, Chocolate, Waffles, and Mussels. Well I did think Beer and a trip to La Fleur en Papier Dore but as the rain began to fall and with a tour scheduled early in the day, I had to stay flexible.  And so I ran through the rain trying to keep up with the good but hurried guide whom I kept losing in the crowds especially around the famous urinating boy. Finally, thoroughly soaked, we parted company and I headed like a well programed GPS to the bar of the Surrealists. Although the place was visited by only 6 people, the owner (or possibly the bouncer) informed me it was not a museum and brusquely ushered me out after he determined that I wasn't ready for my first drink of the day nor was I ready to order when he informed me there were no mussels on the menu.  

 Welcome back to the city.  

The truth be told, I would have loved a beer or two but it was too early and my stomach was too empty to take on the hefty alcohol content of Belgium beer which I feared would bring an early end to my day.
And so soggy and bedraggled, I headed to my next programed location - the temple of mussels and chips - Chez Leon.  Although way too public and famous  like most  tourista places I figured there would be a good turnover  (translating "fresh") and a busy and bustling atmosphere.  They were and it was.   Probably some of the best mussels I've had in years.  Not one of those buckets where you are eating with vigor and suddenly come upon one that is "not so good" and then have to decide whether to try another right away or give up on the rest.  The frites were awesome - as was the French bread that I used to soak up the savory broth. The haricorts verts flavored with lardons that I ordered on the side were perfect with my midrange Belgium Beer.  I jested with the waiter in French both of us laughing as he tutored me and I left sated but still a little damp.

I weaved around the streets and was approached by sales people, fingered some of the most beautiful lace I've ever seen, scored some of my favorite cosmetics and then stopped at a lovely cafe in the arcade where I ordered a waffle which set the bar for any waffle I might cross paths with in the future - light, with a mildly crunchy exterior and tinged with a wonderful vanilla flavor. I was hard core and ordered it with fresh strawberries instead of whipped cream, chocolate sauce, syrup or ice cream. A lovely retired couple from the city who were seated next to me,  stretched themselves to communicate in our native languages and we discussed tipping, food, retirement and their recent trip to the Congo to participate in the women's march.   Exciting but also disturbing  as my new friend tried to explain in our broken English and French. I cringe when I hear an American who suggests the world should speak English.  As someone who stretches herself and takes the risk to communicate in another language I understand the embarrassment and frustration it takes to attempt to understand another person when the words are strange to ones ear, tongue, and brain.  I salute to all of you who have reached out to me in an effort to make contact with someone whose words are both difficult to articulate or to fully comprehend.  You have made my journey special.

Well, I'll sit back and you can see the Atom submitted by Belgium for the 1958 World Exhibition.  I'll take you by the Royal Palace where by the flying flag we could see that King Albert the II, monarch of Belgium, was in the city for the week end.


 Although Belgium is small it is multicultural with 118 nationalities being represented.  It is a commercial center and  home of the European Union where the  leaders meet to discuss the financial stability of their countries.  It's close to Waterloo where Napoleon lost his last battle.  It is also next to Antwerp known for it's Harbor, diamonds and as the birthplace of Rubens.


 As I sat across from St Michael's Cathedral, the rains off to the east, and listened to the bells sound in a 10 minute concert, I was pleased to think I had once again made the effort to experience a new venue.  I thought I might just come back someday and tour the Palace - at no cost, try a few more varieties of Belgium Beer, wander the museums and antique markets, and eat some more mussels and waffles. Oh yes, I found that Belgians love their milk chocolate but I decided to wait for the dark, rich French favorite.  

Looking forward to talking to you personally in a couple of weeks.  FYI Daylight Savings arrived in Europe early this morning.  For the next week I'm only 5 hours ahead of you in the Eastern Time Zone.

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gymwhite on

Thanks for the entry. Unfortunately you are going the wrong direction around the globe. Love your pictures but you are in none of them. You must ask people to take pictures of YOU in the forground!

Marilyn on

Hi Brenda, Miss you. Looking forward to having you back. I must show your entry to Ron, as his family is from that area. I loved all the pictures. But Jim is right you need to ask someone to take a picture of you too. It would be nice to see you having fun. Safe journey home, Marilyn

Lynnette on

Wow! Love it! Thanks for taking us there with you - with your words and pics!

Nanci Ballantyne on

I am so hungry after reading this! Great descriptions!

Lynn on

Hey Brenda!!!

I'm so happy you made it there :-) Wish I was there too to share it together & talk & laugh! :-)

Just got home this weekend & look forward to talking to you when you get back!

Hugs! Lynn

Azra on

Hi Brinda, I finally got to read your travel blog. Woderful, splendid dont have words to say how beautifully you described the Brussels trip. Some fond memories to cherish. I hope you had a safe return home. Keep in touch.

Fran Dell Ellstein on

Welcome home... soon you have to come to Chi-town. My new email is

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