Brussels, Thank You for the 10 Extra Pounds

The only thing I remember from my last trip to Brussels was the chocolate. Now, I’m no rookie when it comes to goodies. I love sweets, so I can confidently say I know good quality when I see it. Amauri wasn’t convinced. Rolling his eyes at my obsession with sweets, he said “What’s so great about Belgian chocolate?”
Grand Palace
 
As soon as we hit the center of the city and the Grand Palace, we could smell it. Coming out of shops was the sweet aroma of about a 1,000 different kind of chocolates and waffles. We window shopped in a few and finally settled on a quiet little chocolate shop in the corner. The store was lined with jars filled with different types of chocolates. Since they weren’t in English (French is the predominate language in Brussels), we just had to guess what they were. I think this actually made it more fun. We purchased a small bag, then ran outside like little kids and sat on the edge of the sidewalk, eager to dig into the delectables. Amauri bit into one and immediately looked at me and said, “Holy crap.” I smiled and replied back, “Wait until you taste Belgian beer.”

 
Serious business.
 
Bag of goodies.
Brussels isn’t a place that takes itself seriously. The most famous landmark is a little boy urinating into a fountain, called “Manneken Pis”. We found the famous statue at the end of a cobble stoned road, filled with tourists eager to get a good shot of them next to it. I looked at the crowd, looked at Amauri, and said, “Can we go to a bar now?”. 

 
Manneken Pis peeing in a glass of beer.
Beer is to Belgium as wine is to France. You don’t have to search long to find an overwhelming amount of choices when it comes to drinking here. We found a bar that advertised the crap out of Delirium Tremens. Apparently, Delirium Tremens is a Belgian beer that was named the “Best Beer in the World” in 2008. I kind of just like that it has a cute elephant on the label. 
Our last day in Brussels it was pouring. After we devoured our breakfast of unhealthy waffles, we decided to venture out in the city. 

Waffles are low cal, right?

Our traveling style mostly is to just wing it, but we had read about a cool bar called “Delirium” in the city and with our $4 umbrellas (that last about 4 days) in tow, we were determined to find it. The problem was that the streets are short distanced little alleyways and every time we went down one, the map would tell us we passed it. It took us a while to find it, but when we arrived we realized it was worth the search. 

Delirium is dimly lit bar tucked away in an 18th century basement. The seats are old barrels, the ceiling is covered in old bar trays, and the walls are plastered with vintage posters. The atmosphere is lively, even in the early evening when we arrived. This is no surprise considering the bar offers 2,000 beers from over 160 countries. We ordered two beers and sat in the corner, happy to be in somewhere warm and away from the rain. 

Choices, choices.
As an American, I can easily spot another American. Typically this occurs before they even start talking. I wonder if this is true for every nationality? I must remember to ask my foreign friends. I’m sure they would say that they too can spot the American a mile away. Making fun of America/Americans is a topic that I’ve found generally bonds Americans with other nationalities. All in good fun of course. (Unless you’re American when Bush is President. People don’t like that.)
 
The group of Americans that sat at a table across from us in Delirium stood out. On one end sat a thug looking man, baggy jeans, huge gold necklace and watch, with his arm around his girl. On the other end, three blonde sorority type girls. The girls had high pitched voices, excited about their conversation (or probably anything). One even offered the bartenders the rest of her change (less than a $1) after ordering, which brought the bartenders into hysterics after she left. It was too loud in the bar to hear, but I was curious what they were talking about. Travel? Politics? Food? America’s Next Top Model?
 
I sat back and analyzed them, enjoying my favorite pastime of people-watching. (Some call it being a creeper, whatever.)
 
It made me think about the immediate connection Americans often have with other Americans they encounter on the road. Travelers often create an immediate heartfelt bond when they find themselves with superficial things in common far from home. As travelers, we are strangers to everyone, and everyone is stranger to us. We rely on the fragile, often surprising connection that we feel, despite the differences.
 
Or maybe I was drunk from the two 12% beers I just downed. Either way, it was time to get to the airport and head to Berlin! 
10lbs heavier? worth itttt.
 
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