Thursday, June 2, 2011
Mussels in Brussels and a little peeing boy
Saturday, May 28, 2011
We awoke in Cologne this morning, ate some breakfast at the hotel (grabbing some snacks for later) and headed to the train station. We caught an 11:43 am train from Cologne to Brussels, it was time to say goodbye to Germany and head to our final country, Belgium. We arrived at the Brussels south station and took the metro up to our hostel where we dropped our bags and headed out again. Since we only had one day in Brussels we wanted to make it good. Our first stop was the Royal Museums of art which contains both "ancient" and modern art. Let me just say that Brussels is difficult to navigate! With all of the street signa in two languages it is difficult to figure out where you are and what direction you need to head. Well, after a few wrong turns we were finally headed in the right direction. Unfortunately when we got there we found that the modern museum was closed and we could only go into the ancient portion yet we had to pay the same price. So, we decided that it wasn't quite worth it. We back tracked going through the sculpture garden and found a street market going on so we browsed the stalls as we worked our way towards the old town.
It was about this time that we figured out that a jazz festival was going on this weekend. The jazz festival made things a bit more difficult because there was a huge stage set up in the Grand Place which made it very difficult to get a picture of the square. Our first stop in the square was the city museum where we went up to the fourth floor to check out little Manekin Pis's costumes.
Mannekin Pis is a little statue of a boy peeing. There are lots of stories about why Brussels has a statue of a boy peeing but no one knows for sure where he came from. What I do know is that he is quite popular and people all over the world send him clothes to wear. He has over seven hundred outfits that date back to about the 1600's. His clothes are pretty cute and so is he, he is really quite a tiny statue and you could easily miss him if you didn't know better. We went to see him and take pictures later in the evening along with about 100 Asian tourists :)
After looking at his costumes we were ready to tackle some hardcore chocolate shopping! The Godiva shop in the Grand Place was closed so we went to Neuhaus, Leonidas, Galler, and two other chocolate shops. I bought a lot of chocolate!
We were getting hungry for some real food so we sat at one of the restaurants in the square. Jamie ordered mussels and frites while I got a little pizza. Oh, and we both got a beer sampler with tiny cups of 5 Belgian beers. The fries were okay and the mussels were not as bad as I thought they would be. The cheese on my pizza was really good, but again, it was just okay. Of the beer that we tasted only one was something that I would order again. It was a cherry lambic. In Belgium they used to preserve fruit by putting it in beer and then in the winter they would have fruit and flavored beer.
After eating a little we walked over to find the little peeing boy and take some pictures with him and then we really just wandered around taking in the sights. We were getting hungry again and found a creperie with both savory and sweet crepes. We had w chicken, pesto and cheese and then a lemon and sugar crepe. They were both delicious but I think I liked the savory one more.
While we were eating outside there was a guy begging. He was going from table to table and was very persistent. The first time he only stopped at our table for a few seconds but then he came around again and proceeded to speak to us in french and when we didn't respond he started yelling and getting beligerant and finally the waiter came out and got him to leave. I felt bad for the guy but Belgium has pretty sweet social service programs and so I'm pretty sure that he just wanted money for drugs or alcohol. Very sad.
So, after that little incident we decided that we should go and walk by the royal palace and at least see it since we were there. Thankfully we were near a subway stop and so we just took the train a few stops and walked through the park to the palace. It's very nice but not as large or grand as I expected.
From the palace we went to check out a hole in the wall place we had heard good things about. It was literally a whole in the wall and then through the courtyard to a little pub that was nice and relaxed. There we tried the lambic without fruit and then with peach. On it's own it is very sour and tart but bot in a bad way if you like things that are sour!
It was getting late so we headed back to the hostel and checked in. We had a private room with our own bathroom which was very nice. Not a bad place to stay unless someone starts hacking up a lung in the hall at 1 am. Otherwise it was nice.