Brussels Mussels – Day 1

As soon as we arrived in Brussels, I started looking around at the people in the station and noticed something. Most people had a somewhat elongated face–skinnier features and longer noses and chins. I mentioned it to someone and she also examined the people and came to the same conclusion. I wonder if my perception is correct… Here’s something notable! While waiting for everyone to get off of the train, we were standing around on the platform, doing nothing special, when someone caught my eye. I stared at the woman for a good while, until she sort of noticed me. I turned around and whispered to Michelle that I thought I saw a famous actress but wasn’t sure what her name is. Michelle looked at her and said, “No, it can’t be! She’s not travelling with enough of a posse.” I pointed her out to Shelby and she thought about it and said that the woman looked very familiar. Michelle then said, “Now that I think about it, she looks too gorgeous to be normal.” The woman saw us staring at her and started to get paranoid (she also was waiting for some people to get off the train). As soon her elevator arrived, she ran inside and made it to the very corner, due to habit or whatnot. She called over her friends in German and they all came immediately. Given her reaction, it was clear that she is used to attention! I vowed to discover who she is. And I did. Completely through serendipity! Stay tuned for until the Paris trip to hear about who it was!

Brussels is so much more beautiful than Geneva… Historically rich, Brussels is a city in which French-speaking and Dutch-speaking residents reside. 85% of the speakers speak French and the rest speak Dutch. Almost everyone speaks English (at least everyone I and my group have encountered). Belgium is known for its food–mussels, waffles, chocolates, beer. It is also known for its tapestries, comics, and for housing the original Manekin-Pis (there are others around the world). And yes, it is exactly what it sounds like: a little boy peeing. It’s a fountain, though, so it’s not totally gross.

We stopped at a hotel right near downtown Brussels, so for the entirety of the trip, we hadn’t used the metro, except to get to and from the trains. After settling in our hotel, I headed over to La Grande Place with a group of people. La Grande Place is absolutely breathtaking–it is a square jam-packed with beautiful rustic–yet golden–buildings in its vicinity. The panoramic pictures in the gallery are La Grande Place. In the olden days, they were a town hall, a brewery, a marketplace, but now they are a museum, a restaurant, and for the most part just buildings worth visiting. Some members of our little group felt like having Belgian waffles, while three of us walked over to a nearby Catholic church to sit in on a service. I came to the conclusion that Catholicism is the same whatever country you’re in or language you’re listening to. The service was exactly the same as what I remember Catholic mass being like, except for the fact that the priest spoke French and walked down the aisle to shake my hand! I felt special. 🙂

Alex, Arturo and I walked back to the hotel to invite Jihane and Michelle to dinner with us. Alex was dead set on having mussels, so I decided to give it a shot. I had never had mussels before, but as they say, do as the Romans do! I ordered mussels in garlic and they came with fries and my choice of beer (I got raspberry). The mussels came in a gigantic pot covered by yet a smaller pot. What you do is take the small pot off, put it off to the side and place the empty shells inside of it. Somehow, I finished ALL of the mussels, topped it off with the beer and still was not full! I suppose that is why fries come with the mussels?

To end our evening, we decided to join everyone in the bar Delirium, a bar well-known for housing 2,500 different beers! I think it goes without saying that obviously not all of these beers were on tap. However, finding it was a real struggle. There are tons of Little Deliriums, Delirium #2, Mini Delirium places that set out to replicate the original, which totally threw us off. While searching for the bar, we discovered an awesome Italian street, which is only really wide enough to fit three people across, and in which people were surrounded by Italian restaurants whose waiters were begging customers to sit down at their particular restaurant. Business is tough because they all pretty much sell the same food for similar prices. We had to turn everyone away because we were busy looking for Delirium! We finally found it, and although it was pretty cool, it looked just like every other bar. I wasn’t particularly impressed until I looked at their extensive menu. They really didn’t have anything but beer which is somewhat limiting…

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