With 3 large bodies folded somewhat comfortably in the Twingo, we were off to Brussels, Belgium for the day. Having planned the trip 2 times previously (both of which fell through at the last moment), I was excited to be on the road to gastronomic heaven.
My Twingo has been good to me. Though not the flashiest or speediest car on the road, it’s delivered me from point A to point B without incident. Sure it has difficultly accelerating and defogging the windows is done more effectively with a paper towel, but it’s good on gas and very convenient – allowing me to make sporadic road trips whenever I have the time.
Surviving 2.5 hours of highway driving and battling successfully through the notoriously traffic jammed Small Ring, we had arrived in Brussels! After a quick stop outside the city to view the Atomium, we found a parking garage in the city - making sure to memorize and note the cross streets. Walking map in one hand and camera in the other, Erin, Eugene and I couldn’t have fit the tourist stereotype any better. Agreeing on which sites were must sees, the 3 of us started to make our way through the city.
One of my favorite things about Europe are the walking streets that can be found in city centres. No cars, just pedestrian traffic. Not only are they unique and convenient, but they also promote window-shopping and allow tourists to take in surroundings without feeling rushed or crowded. In addition, they often lead to a main square where you’ll find city hall, a large church and beautiful historic buildings. The centre of town is always a popular site for seasonal markets, events and street performers.
Not to be disappointed, this walking street held true to stereotype. Viewing the buildings on both sides of the street, I immediately stopped in my tracks and dropped my jaw. The narrow sidewalk had suddenly opened up into a massive, breathtaking square. I don’t know a better way to describe it. I’ve seen a few centre squares in my day, but this one (so far) has to have been the most impressive. Not only were the buildings full of detail, but they were enormous and made me feel miniscule when looking up. The square and buildings were so large, that I found it close to impossible to fit it all in one picture.
Once somewhat satisfied I had captured most of square, Erin suggested we find Manneken Pis, a famous Brussels landmark adorned on everything from shot glasses to t-shirts. Following our map, we found the cross streets but couldn’t see the statue. Imagine our surprise when we turned around and saw a tiny bronze boy surrounded by iron bars. This was the famous landmark the Belgians raved about? Wow. To say we were disappointed is an understatement. I’d hardly call it a landmark - the chocolate replica in a chocolatier store across the street was much cooler, so we took pictures of it instead. However, our spirits were quickly revived when we noticed the two waffle shops that surrounded Manneken Pis. The smell of batter alone had me salivating, as I selected a waffle with bananas, strawberries, chocolate syrup and powered sugar. Fresh off the iron, I could barely wait to take a bite. So excited was I, that I ended up spilling chocolate down my jacket and all over my backpack. Slick. A klutz since birth, I wasn’t deterred. The second time I managed to get waffle in my mouth and almost melted from sensory overload. Believe the hype, Belgian waffles are what they say and more!
Spending the next 10 minutes silently devouring our delicacies, we were full. I hate to admit it, but the thought of eating chocolate after the waffle was too much. A self-proclaimed sweet tooth, I have no problem admitting dark chocolate is my weakness. However, the closest I got to Belgian chocolate on this trip was admiring it through store windows and buying samples for friends. The waffles owned me!
Ignoring a stomachache (from waffle overindulgence), Eugene, Erin and I utilized the rest of the daylight and afternoon wandering up and down narrow alleys, viewing the beautiful churches and landmarks and snapping pictures of anything that looked old ☺. Sitting down for a late lunch, I was upset with myself. I wasn’t even in the mood for a Belgian beer. Deciding not to force myself to drink one just to say I did, I've decided I will return to Brussels so I can enjoy the beer. I'll be back before leaving Luxembourg, as I have yet to taste the chocolate, want to gorge on a few more waffles and enjoy a beer…or two…or three…
Game tonight, the second of my return! I’m excited to hit the hardwood and make it rain!!!