Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Brussels, Belgium

Chocolate, amazing beer, friendly people, and delicious waffles: Belgium was an amazing trip. We stayed with our new friends Annabel and Steve who are native Belgians and have been living in the Etterbeek neighborhood of Brussels for six months now. They helped us plan our trip around the city, recommended the best places to try chocolate, and made sure that we saw the city's wonderful gem: Manneken Pis.

All the signs in Brussels are bilingual. They are posted in both Flemish and French, so they were almost entirely unhelpful to Joe and me, who can get by with Spanish, German, and English. French is similar to Spanish, so I could decipher some of those words, then Flemish is similar to English and German, so between the two of us, we could just barely discover what the signs meant (or so we thought).

We started off the day with croissants that Annabel and Steve gave us for our journey. We enjoyed our breakfast at around 8am with a view of the Arc de Triomphe near the parc du Cinquantenaire. This is a beautiful pedestrian zone in the heart of Brussels and also happened to be the landmark we were looking for to tell us to get off the bus!

Arc de Triomphe

Standing at the base of the AdT. This monument is enormous!

A picture of Joe being hesitant after I talked him into climbing the AdT

Delivery truck

It's always funny to see something that looks like my last name since you don't see anything like it in the states.

While looking for Manneken Pis

It looks like the lion has SARS

Grote Markt - Beautiful gilded facades

Mmm! Belgian cheese!

40s of Stella Artois with plastic twist-off caps! What???

Belgian waffle (to die for)

Look at the elation in his eyes: he'd been waiting years to get his Belgian waffle with chocolate AND bananas

Piles of little chocolates in a chocolate shop

I'm not entirely comfortable saying that the hike with a backpack full of beer was worth it for Manneken Pis.

Asian tourist groups are a sight in themselves

Yes, you can buy snails on the street.

Cantillon brewery tour

This is how they bottle beer.

Trying their signature Greuze. Very bitter and acidic. They brew it like it was brewed hundreds of years ago, without pasteurization law.

Joe and his three new bottles of Cantillon.

The street our hosts live on.

Overall, an amazing trip. It would be dangerous for me to live in Brussels because of the amazing beer and chocolate, but it's now one of my favorite cities!

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