Vacation Photos: Brussels

Ah, Brussels. After spending a week in Paris and the charming little towns of Bruges and Ghent, Brussels seemed well, kind of like a disappointment. It was too urban, too charmless, too dirty for both of our tastes. There is too much graffiti and a ton of people. Less than Times Square, but definitely more than Bruges and Ghent combined. We walked through a very sketchy neighborhood (I live in a gentrifying neighborhood and I still say that) near the Brussels Midi train station to visit a local Lambic brewery, and it turned out to be totally worth it. We took a tour of the 100 year old Cantillon brewery and had a tasting at the end (we even bought a pint glass with the brewery logo on it to bring home. It made the journey without cracking!). It’s one of the last remaining true Lambic breweries that uses spontaneous fermentation still in production. We met the 4th generation brewer and his sister.

On the tour I found out that a true Lambic brewery does not use any pesticides for the natural fruit they add to their beer during fermentation, that they let Mother Nature take care of it. In the way of spiders. So they never kill a spider they see or destroy a spiderweb in the brewery. I’m pretty sure I dropped dead upon receipt of that information when my brain started calculating how many lambics I’ve imbibed in my life and thus how many spiders I might have growing inside of me, plotting my demise from the inside out. Omfg. Brb, dying.

Anyway, unfortunately for Brussels, I was so burnt out by the time we got there that I sort of slacked on taking pictures. We walked around a ton and had some really excellent meals (here and here, the latter is an old French hardware store so you can imagine the incredible architectural details), and I even achieved nirvana in Zara Home. We didn’t go to a single museum (for shame!) because everything was closed on Monday, but we did make sure to see the Grand Place and of course the Mannekin Pis. The statue of the chubby little boy peeing into a fountain.

We flew out Tuesday morning and had a disaster of a time getting to the airport. First, the hotel didn’t give us a wake up call, but thankfully we were both attuned and anxious enough to wake up around the right time. Trying to save money, we took a cab to the train station to take a train to the airport, since by this point we considered ourselves train-pros, having taken roughly 450 of them on the trip. It would have been great, except our train stopped after two stops at Nord station and everyone had to get off because there was a fire at the airport train station. A fire. Obviously. So an entire train of tourists makes a mad dash to the taxi stand to try and make it to the airport in time for their flight. It was every man for himself and I was throwing elbows and running over toes with my luggage to get a cab (somehow I feel like my mom would be proud). We randomly found another guy from Philly (what are the odds?!) and one French guy and agreed to split a cab, which was a good thing because it ended up being €55. We made it to the check-in counter with literally less than an hour until our flight took off. It’s a miracle we made it through immigration and security and onto the plane. And Boyfriend still had time to buy me a waffle. If that’s not love, I don’t know what is.

Rick Steves’s guide book said that people-watching around the statue was actually more fun than the statue itself. While we were there, a family of Asian tourists were making their 3 year old pose just like the Mannekin Pis for a picture. He obliged. And then tried to take his pants off to really get into character. 

Real lambic. Tastes like a syrupy, sour wine. It was unreal. Not pictured: spiders. Normally, I would have been too flipped out about the spiders to even drink the sample, but we’d seriously taken our lives in our hands walking through the neighborhood to get to the brewery, and I deserved a drink after that. 

And that’s it! Thank you guys so, so much for letting me share all of those pictures with you. All of these were just a highly scrutinized selected portion of all the photos I took on the course of the trip. And speaking of photographs, I finally caught up (partially) over on on 365. I still need to post ones from the last few days of May up to now, but I’ve been so focused on getting all of the vacation photos up that I just haven’t had the the energy. Tomorrow, as promised, I’ll post another Photoshop Tutorial on editing pictures. Then it’s back to our regularly scheduled programming with a Two of a Kind, a Like A Picture, and a Friday Five.

It’s good to be home.

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June 4, 2012 / art / photo / Travel / LEAVE A COMMENT / 13

13 comments

  • You seriously could make sell these photos as postcards. They are amaze-balls. :)

  • Yay, Rick’s advice is always pretty spot on. Sorry you didn’t enjoy Brussels as much and had that last minute dash to the airport – I hate that. Still, a wonderful looking trip and I’m still so jealous of you!

  • You and spiders, poor pet! I love the idea of that boy trying to take off his pants to mimic the statue. And I agree with Aisling, your photos are stunning. Neel’s best “almost miss the plane” story comes from when he traveled to Greece with his aunt and uncle just after he graduated high school. The day they were supposed to fly out was Greece’s time change where they lost an hour, only Neel and his aunt and uncle didn’t know. Neel got up and went to grab one last gyro before they left and somehow figured out about the time. It was a mad dash, but they made it! I can’t believe I just remembered that.

    I’m glad you’re home too, dear. xo

  • Proud Mom!

  • Oh! Of course, I love the photos…all of them. Especially the boy with the tube up his rectum…..

  • Well, goodbye Europe. At least, we’ll always have Erin’s beautiful photos to longingly gaze at. I like the idea that the brewery doesn’t kill any spiders. It’s very Buddhist of them…Ok, not really. :)
    So glad you made it in time to the airport! Fire?! Wow.
    Happy to have you back. And, yes, that is love.

  • Um, paragraph 2 put me on the floor I was laughing so hard.

  • Ha. Could have told you all of this about Brussels. One thing though, I do think their food is excellent, better than French food.

    I once had a Belgium boyfriend that lived half week in Brussels and half in Paris. It was a Brussles/Paris/London relationship with lots of travelling elsewhere in between. Belgium hasn’t featured since:) There were lots of good things about the relationship and one of them was FOOD, we both loved food so couldn’t go wrong with Brussels or Paris.

    That black and white shot is stunning.

    Happy BF got you a waffle for a happy ending to your trip.

  • Your mum is awesome. I totally didn’t even notice the tube up his pooper.

  • Again amazing photos! Love the story about the kid trying to take of his pants to recreate Manneken Pis. So funny! Lambic yummy but imagining the place crawling with spiders creeps me out a little bit…

  • Bugger, just deleted my reply by accident!!! Just to summarise:

    Spiders – eugh, hope you’ve got over the thought of them embedded somewhere in your intestines?
    Boy with the dropped trousers – funny
    Airport dash – phew, life’s never dull in Erin land, but glad you made it. Den, I and the boys got to Dubai airport a day late once, on our return home, doh! and £600 quid lighter.

    Love your new format, although it took me a few minutes to work out the sequence of posts went from left to right :-)
    x

  • Wow Erin your home page is awesome! So slick and pretty. And I get to still look at my post so that’s made me happy. Have to agree with Le Sam though, took me a minute to work out which ones were the latest. It looks like a v posh magazine though! I guess this is what you did yesterday when we were all not blogging? xx

    Euw spiders. That’s grossed me out too. And hilars about the little boy mooning. Evan did that the other day when we were getting him ready for bed. He just stood on the balcony and mooned all the neighbours. Then he bent over and show them his, um rectum, as your mum says. We were laughing too hard to chastise him.

    Stuning photos as always xx

  • […] when I got back from Belgium and the first thing I wrote about was that I finally got to visit a Zara Home store in Brussels? […]