01 – The Second Honeymoon
02 – Conquering Medieval Stairs
03 – Urinating in Brussels
04 – On to Paris
05 – Seeing Louvre
06 – A Police Story
07 – The Sun King’s Blingy Home
08 – Her Majesty’s Beverage in the Sky
09 – Hangin’ with Our Royal Neighbors
10 – Sending Ourselves to the Tower
11 – Raining on the Parade
12 – Her Majesty’s Beverage in the Sky Again
There were visibly more people and more stuff happening on a Monday morning than yesterday. However, even though we had slept in, many breakfast places weren’t open when we were ready to eat. This slow-paced approach to life in Europe was stressing us out!
Breakfast at a random cafe
After some super fluffy croissants, we explored another part of historic Bruges, and watched a bunch of birds at Minnewater Lake. Bruges, being the Venice of the North, had rivers and canals everywhere. Any random street corner may contain an incredibly picturesque scenery.
More houses made with seriously old bricks
Cute Bruges-styled brick building
Horse fountain… kind of like a gas station for the horse-powered Uber
Lots of swans here
Selfie on a bridge
Monday morning rush hour traffic
Waving goodbye to Martin’s Bruges, we took the train back to Brussels and checked into Hilton Brussels Grand Place, steps away from the Central station. Because I was such an incredible “loyal customer” who had status matched myself to Hhonors Diamond, the hotel upgraded us to a nice suite.
Belgium Rail train. The 1.25-hour ride was pleasant and scenic, with views of mostly farms and cows
My favorite part was seeing a cow’s diarrhea in action… but then maybe you didn’t need to know that
Hilton Brussels Grand Place
Suite, with a nice view of the city
One of the two bathrooms in our suite
Lunch was at a place called Chez Leon, where we had a feast of mussels, frog legs, and onion soup. Brussels was rather an inland city to be famous for mussels, but our food was good, even for someone who really didn’t care for seafood.
The frogs were served from the waist down… and I clearly had a kick out of it
Everyone from Youtube tour guides to coworkers had indicated that Brussels had little to offer to tourists. To put that in perspective, consider that the city’s most well-known attractions were a small statue of a peeing boy, and his female counterpart. Hearing about them was infinitely more interesting than seeing them in person. They were like the size of props in our fish tank at home.
Manneken Pis, the crown jewel of tourism in this excessively humble city
Do not trust anyone who holds ice cream in one hand and his wiener in the other
Lots of people came here everyday to watch the urination of a little girl locked behind iron bars… the Belgians had to be some real perverts
Okay, I’m too embarrassed to post the next picture openly, but click here if you want to see it. In many cities you’d find this sort of stuff in sleazy neighborhoods featuring neon signs for adult DVDs. In Brussels this was somehow a top tourist destination.
Although the statues were disappointing, the Grand Place exceeded my expectations despite the pissy weather. A bunch of big, intricate buildings with hints of gold trim surrounded this city square, and they were a joy to look at.
Selfie in front of Town Hall
Gold dude on gold horse looking down on peasants in the square, gleefully giving them the middle finger
A big building
Cathedral of St. Michael & St. Gudula
Another really cool building
We embraced the European culture of having late dinners – in part because we had been eating all day. Instead of finding food at 7pm, we began another journey of aimless roaming around. We played a game of guessing passer-bys as locals or tourists. One thing I noticed was that locals spent very little time on their cell phones… everyone who walked around with a big bright screen in hand, texting or taking selfies, was an obvious tourist.
This watermelon mojito slush was the most expensive boba drink I had ever purchased
Having a snack at Fritland, and people watching
Our dinner at 9pm was at a local cafe where I devoured a huge thing of spaghetti. Later on, we killed more time at the hotel bar. This childless vacation made us feel 10 years younger… we spent more time together in a bar in Belgium, than we ever did in the US.
Despite it being an obvious eatery for tourists, this was among the best spaghetti bolognese I’d had. The whole pound of shredded cheese probably had something to do with it
Drinking at the hotel bar
Belgium’s official languages were French and Dutch. However, everyone we crossed paths with spoke fluent English. Furthermore, every restaurant menu was printed with English, and some signs were even in English exclusively. I realize that the phenomenon was a reflection of the tourist areas that we hung out in, but it was still impressive to consider how many people here were tri-lingual.