I arrived early Tuesday morning. For those who may not know, Brussels is 6 hours ahead of us and I don't sleep well on planes. Translation: I was exhausted. We stayed at an Ibis hotel. The location was, eh. The hotel was fine enough. Free breakfast, free wifi. Random ironing board in the hallway that I guess the floor was to share
|roomie demonstrating ironing in hallway|
I was underwhelmed by the location because it was not where the fun was at and I am a walker and like to explore so I was worried I'd made a mistake. If you are going to go, I suggest staying in walking distance of the Grand Place. Our hotel was about a 25 minute walk from there. We did the walk to that area every day but took cabs in the evening because we found the men a bit sketchy and sometimes aggressive in our area. Once again, my dad does not have a special set of skills and if I get taken I am just another little black girl lost.
Our first venture into food and drink was pretty good. We had the famous fries (bet not call them French fries, that's frites to you) which they insist on pairing with mayo or anything but ketchup. I mean there are tons of condiments they give including something called American (something with mayo, yuck) and Samuri which I did try. Yes it had mayo so once was enough for me. I did enjoy the curry ketchup which tasted exactly as it sounded.
Speaking of le sighs, if you know some French, you'd probably fair better in Brussels. In typically American fashion, I believed most people spoke English when actually I found many did not speak it so well.
One thing I noted of interest was the diversity. There were many people of African and Middle Eastern descent living there. When I researched it (okay looked it up on Wikepedia) I found that about 36% of the population there are of that ancestry.
So we officially hung out in the grand place/market square. This used to be the town center but in the olden days but now it's used for touristy stuff with chocolate shops, restaurants, museums, hotels.
|Part of the Grand Place|
|Me in front of the Atomium|
Also to note, the Belgiums like their comics. A lot. And did you know that's who created the Smurfs? Me either. They also did Rin Tin Tin. And they have a comic strip museum there. You will find, if you look, that there quite a few buildings with cartoon drawings on them. Some cute, some not so cute. I saw one nightmarish one that I refused to take a picture of.
That night we hit the town and had...Italian for dinner. Sorry, I'm not a big fan of the Brussels diet. Meat and potatoes only takes you so far. And after I had a salad where they, you guessed it, put mayo on as the dressing, I was too through.
We checked out the night life like Celtica and Delirium but I'll pass. To me this is a bar town for big beer drinkers and I am a cosmo/lounge type o gal. And I didn't find a spot like that until the last night.
One thing to note: Cab drivers will charge you whatever so ask how much before getting in the car. I literally had one driver charge us 15 euros for one way and another charge us 5 euros for the same way. On average the ride was 10 euros.
Some interesting insights: We were speaking to some Africans and they were telling us about where they originally came from. They asked us where we came from and we gave them the dumb look. Outside of America, who knows? They understood and said as much, giving us the pity face. Never occurred to me that other cultures might pity us because we aren't able to trace our history as fully as they are due to the monster called slavery.
Another thing, we watched the news every morning trying to stay connected with current events (and okay, because there weren't many other English speaking channels) and heard about the woman who prevented the school shooting in Atlanta. After the story coverage the reporters, both British, discussed how scared they would be to send their kids to school in America. Again, never occurred to me but now that I think about it, if I saw all of the stories about school shootings I'd feel the same way. It's not as if international news is reporting on all of the good times in American schools just as we don't report on all of the good things going on in, say, India. If we just went off the news we'd think it's a country dealing with an epidemic of food poisoning issues, unsafe buildings and rape. And so I guess foreigners would see America as dealing with a huge problem of gun violence in school.
Next: Final day in Brussels, a proposition, a peeing statute and travel to Amsterdam...