ik spreek Nederlands!

Ok, ok, I am just kidding.  I don’t speak Dutch…yet!  I’m working hard to get there though.

Anyway, I believe I had promised a post on our recent weekend in Brussels.  The trip could probably be summed up as: chocolates, waffles and beers.  I’ll give you a few more details though, since you’ve probably already seen that much in my Facebook photos!

A quick shot of Rotterdam Central Station during our connection.

We took a train from Den Haag on Friday afternoon to Rotterdam (about a 25 minute ride) where we then connected to Brussels (about a 1.5 hour ride).  Not a bad little trip through the countryside of the Netherlands and Belgium!

The trip started out a little rocky, as we were completely unprepared with directions from the train station to our hotel.  I thought I had read that the hotel was nearby, and after all, we live in the digital age (I would just look it up on BC’s iPhone when we got there).  Oh wait, we actually just went to a different country (aka – high costs for data usage on the cell phone).  Considering it was getting dark, we decided to opt for the high rate of data and use the navigation to get us to our destination safely.  Turns out, even with directions, it is hard to get around when the streets weave in and out.  Eventually we arrived at the hotel and got all checked in.

The mitraillette sandwich!

Now at this point, we were quite hungry.  We wandered around for a bit before stumbling upon…Fritland! We had heard that frits (or french fries for all my Americans out there) were a Belgian must-have, so we got in line for the outdoor serving window and began to review the menu.  A man walked up to BC and suggested he go for the “Mitraillette” – he said this was a very Belgian type dish.  (Side Note: Later on, courtesy of Wikipedia, we discovered the literal translation of this delicacy to be a “Sub-machine gun”)  Ok, that’s what we’re here for, right?  Naturally BC orders this item, which includes fried meat, spicy sauce, frits, lettuce and a lovely baguette.  I opted for fried cheese and some frits.  We ate these tasty treats outdoors while sipping on a Jupiler brew (Belgian).  Definitely a great intro to the trip!

BC is not too sure about the Mannekin Pis.

The next day was a big one.  First up…the Mannekin Pis.  Now, this is a rather unique landmark that I struggle to determine the relevance of (other than the fact that it is quite old), but it is basically a statue of a little boy peeing.  Anyone see something I’m missing??  He was dressed in costume, which is often changed daily.  There is a non-profit organization, “Friends of the Mannekin Pis”, dedicated to creating and dressing him in these costumes.

A 3-sided view of the Grand Place.

Then we spent some time ooo-ing and aww-ing over the Grand Place…one of the most famous squares in Europe.  It was breath-taking and all of the surrounding buildings were very ornate.  There were cafes, shops, painters, weddings, and tourists galore within the square, and yet it was still very charming.  I took about 1,000 photos in this square, naturally.  I even took a few for other tourists (which I secretly love to do).

Mmmmmmmmmmm…waffle.

Now that we had seen a few of the sights, there was no question that we had earned the opportunity to enjoy an infamous Belgian Waffle!  We waited very patiently as the workers at “The Waffle Factory” prepared an amazing liege waffle covered in dark, Belgian chocolate.  The time had finally come for us to indulge.  It was life-changing.  I don’t think I will ever look at a waffle the same way. 🙂

Me and the Atomium structure.

We then decided to journey outside the city center to the Atomium, a structure built for the 1958 World Fair.  (We found out later that BC’s great-aunt had actually attended the 1958 World Fair in Brussels…who knew!)  In order to get there, we had to navigate through the Brussels metro system, but this turned out to be fairly straight-forward (thanks to the map provided by the Marriott).  The Atomium was quite the sight to see…it’s such a unique structure!  To think that it was from the 50’s, even though it had a much more modern look, was quite impressive.  We opted out of the 11 euro cover charge to go up in the building.  We took several photos in front of the Atomium, in an attempt to be funny (as were most of the people there), but then we were interrupted by a VERY loud noise…thousands of motorcyclists decided to drive around the Atomium at that very time we were taking pictures and honk their horns all the while.  It was a noise like I had never heard before (and never want to hear again).

We decided to head back to the Grand Place for a little beer and cheese combo and some good people watching.  After that, we went back to the hotel to prep ourselves for a nice dinner out on the town (something a little nicer than Fritland for night #2).  Upon a recommendation from the concierge man, we ventured to “Vincent,” a traditionally Belgian restaurant with great food yet a semi-casual atmosphere.  It did not disappoint!  Our waiter, who could clearly see that we were not “from around there,” made the night.  He basically chose our meal for us, and he was over the top in presentation…and it was delightful!  Then we headed for a drink at the famous Delirium bar just down the street.  This bar was known for their massive variety of beers (more than 2,000 choices, including numerous Belgian brews, of course).

Sunday, we chose to get started a little later than normal (the Belgian beers were a bit stronger than we are use to back home :)).  Then we were on a mission…CHOCOLATES!  We were not going to leave Brussels without a nice selection of chocolates to remember our trip.  We were successful.  I think we probably had about 40 chocolates in tow to enjoy in the coming weeks (or days :))!

Then it was back to the train station (a little easier return trip to the station from the hotel), and on back home…to Den Haag!  We had a really great weekend, and we are sure that we will be making a return trip to Belgium before too long!!

Well peeps, I think that is all that I have for now.  Looking forward to our first guests in just a few short days…  I’m sure we will have much to discuss after getting their reactions to our new lives here!!!

Until next time,
-MK-

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