Monday, July 5, 2010

Brussels Travel Guide: A "Grand" Arrival

Hi Bloggy Friends,

This morning we tore ourselves out of bed early enough to catch a mid-afternoon train to Brussels. With our Euro-Pass in tote, we effortlessly hopped on a car and were at our destination in less than three hours.

We didn't have luck finding an apartment in Brussels, so we decided on a chic, modernly-decorated hostel called 2Go4 (lobby pictured left). We didn't know what to expect moving into a boisterous hostel, but we were fortunately able to snag a private studio located on the top floor away from the dormitories. It's decorated with fun, colorful furniture and the ceiling slopes triangularly. Thankfully, there are windows on the roof, which, when opened, provide a more open, airy ambiance. We love it.

Our living quarters are situated in the heart of downtown Brussels, which makes it easy to see most sites on foot. The first item on our agenda was to try a Belgian beer. Being nescient about the world of suds, I did some research on the subject prior to arriving. That's how I discovered lambic. For those of you who don't know, lambics are fermented with different fruits to give them a lighter, less beer-y taste. They come in a variety of flavors, such as framboise (rasberry), cassis (black currant) and pêche (peach). I tried a kriek, which was blended with cherries. The taste was light, almost champagne-like, and intensely flavorful. I loved it, but I can see how true beer drinkers may not consider it a "real" beer. Oh well, it's the best I could do.

Located within a hop, skip and a jump of the bar was the Grand Place (pictured right), a luxurious, old world oasis that is perhaps Brussels' number one tourist stop . It was truly grand in every sense of the word. Looming all around us were immense, intricately-designed structures, like the Town Hall and the Breadhouse. Situated in-between were smaller Guildhalls, which house posh chocolate stores, frilly lace shops and bustling restaurants. It was a breathtaking experience.

Keeping with our sightseeing tour, we headed toward the little peeing statue called Manneken Pis. If we didn't know to look out for it, we probably would have passed right by. The no-frills fountain is located discreetly on a random street corner, but it's one of the city's most sought out attractions. On occasion, the little man is dressed in costumes sent from all over the world. Unfortunately, he was stark naked when we saw him but he's been costumed in all kinds of threads - once even decked out as the King himself, Elvis Pis-ley.

We had dinner at a fabulous Ethiopian restaurant called Kokob (pictured left) and stopped by one of the chocolate stores in the Grand Place before turning in for the night. We're excited to see what else Brussels has in store. Our first impression is that it is a grittier, more industrialized city than Paris or Amsterdam. Besides the vicinity immediately surrounding the Grand Place, the architecture is largely more contemporary and less ornate than what we've seen so far. I'm anxious to take in the new perspective.

Have a great night. I'll chat with you soon.

Love, Josh


Casey said...

Honey, I bet Suze Orman wouldn't be caught dead in those white sneakers.

Of course you would drink a fruity "beer." That's hilarious.

Bill Fogle said...

Wow! I had to enter: "define nescient" in Google. High marks on your vocabulary, Josh!

Did you have a blueberry beer when we were in Maine? I think Alan did. I like beer, and when I was 24 I used to pose myself in the bars with a St. Pauli Girl. It worked!

Casey's comments here are so funny!

Loved your description of the hostel.