Thursday, February 20, 2014

Brussels, Belgium

Wednesday morning (February 5th) I woke up bright and early to catch a 6:50 AM train to Brussels. The train ride was uneventful, which is always nice, and I managed to sleep almost the entire trip. I arrived in Brussels around 1:30 in the afternoon, and made my way to the Meininger Hotel, where I would be staying for the next two nights. The staff was very friendly and let me leave my luggage in a storage room since my room wouldn’t be ready for another hour or so. I decided to start right away and venture into Brussels to find the Magritte Museum. I got out of the subway and proceeded to walk from the Park to the museum. I wandered back and forth in front of the museum for a while before realizing it was inside the larger building. Every first Wednesday afternoon of the month in Brussels they offer museum exhibits for free. I was extremely fortunate to come on this particular day. The museum was very nice, but as it turns out a trend started for my trip where I would always be stuck near a group or class of younger kids. Always about 10 years old.

After the museum I decided to find Le Morte Subite, which my Aunt Bev suggested to me. I asked two women at the museum if they could point me in the right direction. On my way to the café I decided to stop at Cathedrale St. Michael. The Cathedrale was traditional Gothic style and extremely beautiful both inside and out.

I finally found my way to Le Morte Subite. I found a quite table in the back. This café was known for their variety of beer and their dark bread and cheese dish. Much to my surprised it was not what I was expecting. I was given the plate of food and had to create the dish myself. It was a very long thing piece of bread. The cheese was very soft and easy to spread across the bread. Next, I had to cut up the chives and radishes and spread them around the bread. Lastly, I could top it off with a little bit of salt and pepper. Wow! What a treat it was! It was so delicious. The waiter recommended that I try the cherry beer to go with my snack. It was the perfect treat for the afternoon. I spent some time enjoying my bread and wine while writing in my journal. It was a very pleasant afternoon.

I decided it was then time to wander the streets of Brussels a little bit more. I found a nice little chocolate shop with excellent chocolate and then made my way to the Waffle Factory. I experienced my first official Belgian Waffle. I decided that after treating myself to the bread and then the waffle, I probably didn’t need to have dinner that evening.

I made my way back to the hostel while it was still light. I had heard that hostels were a great place to meet new people from all over the world. Before I had left it looked like the bar area had several games such as pool and fosse ball as well as a nice atmosphere. I went to my room first and got all settled in. Unfortunately, one of my roommates had very smelly feet so I left the room quickly to find some new friends. I was lucky enough to meet one from New Zealand! The hostile wasn’t as social as I had hoped for it to be, but I had a lot of fun talking with this guy from New Zealand. If I remember correctly, he was 19 years old and just wanted to come explore Europe for a little while. His plan was to visit some friends and work a little as well. We spent at least an hour talking before we both decided to go to sleep for the night.

The next morning I met my friend from New Zealand again at breakfast. He was leaving for Bordeaux that afternoon so we hoped to maybe meet up when I visited Bordeaux.

I decided to do the free walking tour of Brussels on Thursday because I still didn’t really know the basic layout of the city. It was a 3 hour tour with a 20 minute break in the middle. Our tour guide was named PJ. He was Flemish and originally from Brussels. He showed us all the main points of the city and gave us interesting history, facts, and legends about various buildings and aspects of the city. He was very passionate about the information he was sharing, which I believe made the tour much better. I decided to sign up for a beer tour with him later in the afternoon as well because I enjoyed his tour so much! On the walking tour I met a girl named Quinn from Australia as well. She was staying in the same hostel as me and also was planning to attend the beer tour later.

I decided that I would part ways quickly from the group after the tour ended so that I could visit the Horta Museum, which had received great ratings online. I made my way via public transit to the museum. It was basically just a house with furniture that was meant to show the beautiful architecture from Horta. Again, I was stuck behind a group of kids. Even though they arrived at the same time as me they were put through the coat check first so I had to wait a while to get in. I did not enjoy this museum at all. I think that they could have made it much more interesting. It took me longer to get to it than it did for me to walk around inside. The house was very beautiful, but I didn’t feel like I learned anything at all. It was nice to see, but definitely not worth my time or money. I wish I had gone to see the comic book museum instead.

I made my way back to the center of the city. I had another waffle because I was in Belgium, so why not? This time it was more traditional with just the light powdered sugar, rather than the chocolate filling. I realized that it was getting late and I probably should find something good for dinner. I found a cute restaurant right across from where the beer tour was starting. The food was amazing! I had a traditional "beef stew" meal that I was told was a typical dinner in Brussels.

I finished my meal quickly and headed across the street. PJ informed me when I arrived that Quinn and I were the only two that had signed up for the beer tour and they needed at least 4 people for it to run. Instead PJ bought each of us a drink and talked about the beer and the importance of the foam ("head") at the top of the beer. When Quinn came, she had made friends with 4 guys from Italy at our hostile. The four of them decided to join us for the evening. PJ then took the six of us to a pub called Delirium. They offered over 3,000 different types of beer. From there we went to have a little snack before the pub crawl began. When the others were ready to go to that I said my goodbyes and headed back to the hostel to get some sleep.
At 6 AM the next morning I left Brussels and made my way to Amsterdam.

Au Revoir!  

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