When we did finally part ways with the man we nicknamed Eric Ericcson, we still had Brussels and the Tim Barry tour to look forward to. After quite a bit of contemplation and the help of some incredibly nice Brusselinians, we found the hotel, and then went off to the Grand Platz to meet up with Tim. Unfortunately yours truly here mistook the Grand Platz for the little square nearby and there was a good deal of confusion and wasted cell phone credit as Tim waited for us and we attempted to find the proper Platz. Eventually we did, never fear. Tim didn’t have a lot of time (it was a school night), so he took us on an express tour to the Palace Gardens, which we reached via the Brussels Metro, which is unregulated, so we rode it for free. Tim lived in a Flemish suburb just outside of the city, but had spent the first few months living in the heart of Brussels when he first arrived, so he knew quite a bit. We learned that the country is divided by language half Dutch and half French, with English as the common ground. As the capital of Europe, there were many more languages bubbling up as we wandered around the streets, which I thought was really cool. It would have been interesting to learn more about the UN and the international presence, and we did walk through the government district, but who knows, perhaps one day I’ll befriend a diplomat and finagle an invitation back.

Grand Platz in Brussels

 

Giant Chocolate Baby!!! I found smaller quantities of chocolate to eat that were just as good and not as creepy looking

Tim also pointed out the culinary points of interest around the Grand Platz, including the seafood alley, where waiters will follow you down the street in attempt to get you to eat Mussels in Brussels at Their dining establishment; the world-famous Delirium Bar, which has the Guinness World Record for the most beers- something like 2000 available at any time; and the delicious Greek alley, which was cheap and so good, so Maura and I made sure to make multiple return trips. We parted ways with Tim for Greek dinner, then strolled around the Grand Platz, in and out of the chocolate shops, many of which we quickly realized offered free samples, and eventually purchased the obligatory Belgian waffle. It did not disappoint.

The next day, we decided to go the small beer museum, which turned out to be a film in a decorated room and a complimentary beer, and then the chocolate museum, which offers loads of free chocolate in its demonstration. We wandered around for a good while, eventually ending up at a park where we relaxed for bit. Then we walked to the Brussels Cathedral and rested in our hotel before a dinner of- you guessed it- cheap Greek pitas! – And a trip to check out the famous Delirium Bar. We stayed and chatted for a good while, and met a few fellow travelers, and of course sampled a few exotic brews- including chocolate beer! (FYI- It tasted like a tootsie roll, which is a little weird for a beer, so I think I may forgo chocolate beer in the future. Although it did inspire me to do some research and I found out that a local brewery near me in Virginia serves up a chocolate donut stout, which I might have to try…when I’m 21).

I'm afraid I just don't get it...

Our final day in Brussels was short, because we had an early afternoon train to Bruges, and mainly involved the purchase of chocolate souvenirs. It also involved a visit to Manikin Pis, the famous 18 inch boy/fountain who is urinating and is apparently the symbol of the city. I would seriously urge Brussels to find another mascot. Strange fountain aside, I was sad to leave the breath taking Grand Platz (“the best preserved example of Baroque architecture in Europe”) and its city behind. But the days of travel were growing short and it was time to move on to another Belgian City- Bruges!

Bye Bye Brussels!