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.