Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Brussels Travel Guide: The Grand Finale

Hi Bloggy Friends. This is the last of my "Trip to Europe" posts. Thank you so much for coming by to read and watch the videos I've put together. Going back over the footage has been tons of fun for me. I hope you've enjoyed the retrospective. So, without further adieu, here's la grande finale:

Hi Bloggy Friends,

Well, as much as I hate to type it, this is our last full day in Europe. We're not going to sit around moping about it all day, though. We still have so much more of Brussels to see.

As I mentioned before, this is a bustling, industrial city. The charm isn't as easily found in ornate architecture and lush gardens, but in the grimy neighborhoods that are home to people from all over the world. Much of the diversity has to do with the fact that Brussels is the capital of the European Union.

We began our excursion heading uphill from the Grand Place toward Little Africa. On the way we picked up a few souvenirs at a lively street market that had everything from paintings to jewelry and everyday figurines to exotic African trinkets. It looked like someone had wandered into some of the world's best granny attics and poured all the awesomeness on the street for us to buy. Most of the items were available at a pretty decent price. I wish we had more room in our suitcases.

Continuing uphill our surroundings turned from gritty to regal as we strolled into the vicinity of the Place Royale. Here we acted like fools, skipping freely around the ridiculously immense Palace of Justice and devoured a Belgian waffle in the Parc de Bruxelles. Instead of getting a touristy waffle with whipped cream and strawberries piled on top, we opted for a plain one. It was a deliciously gratifying choice; so warm, gooey and sweet. Kind of like a funnel cake but less lard-y. We've eaten really well here.

We spent a few more hours checking out sites like Notre Dame du Sablon Church and the Place du Petit Sablon, which is a garden surrounded by ten statues of Brusselian scientists, poets and other intellectuals from the 16th century. Alan's favorite was the sculpture of Gerardus Mercator, a Belgian mapmaker who he says "devised a map that would accurately display the spherical Earth on a 2D piece of paper." I didn't have a particular favorite, but I thought the park was lovely.

We had dinner at a Thai restaurant in a trendy, gayish part of town called Place Saint-Gèry. We also spent some time at a festive street party that resembled Philadelphia's artsy First Friday events in Old City. We stopped into some of the stores, but we mostly played the role of spectators. It was refreshing to see a hint of something that connects Europe with the place we call home.

It was late before we finally forced ourselves to wander back to the apartment to pack and ready ourselves for the return home. I'm SO not ready to leave.

Love, Josh


Bill Fogle said...

The only international travel I *ever* did (other than dufey trips to Canada) was twice to Argentina, both times with my lover, who was from that country (funny - he called me today!). The trips have the memory of our (at that time) new romance stamped on them, and of course it is great to get to know a country when you are with someone who lived there and understands it all.

But I am still impressed with how you both read up on your destinations and really made wise choices about how to spend you days.

I'm a little sad to see it end, too ... but am looking forward to the fall and everything that brings for you.

Casey said...

I've so enjoyed your videos of the trip! I wish there were more days of it. I can't believe you didn't try the escargot...believe it or not, I've even tried one before--although, I had the opposite reaction of Alan.

Bon appetit!