Here we go with another travel recap. I feel like I can’t write about anything else until I’m done with these things, and since I’ve had at least 3 people tell me how lazy I’ve been at blogging lately, let’s just get ‘er done.
On our second-to-last full day in Europe, we headed to the Paris Gare du Nord train station to buy 4 tickets to Brussels. Based on research we’d done online beforehand, we thought we’d be able to buy discount passes in person, but, we were SO wrong. Buy your tickets in advance, people. Lesson learned.
The Brussels Grand Place looked a lot like Munich’s town square, including the old churches and, just, old buildings in general. We started our day with breakfast, which mostly included a first but definitely not last round of Belgian waffles.
Belgian waffles are different than regular old American waffles because they have chunks of sugar in them. It’s a totally worthwhile diabetic nightmare. If you happen to have a friend who is obsessed with perfecting their version of Belgian waffles stateside, then you should count your blessings (ahem, Greg).
One of the buildings in the square has a pretty obvious architectural flaw. You can see that two different architects each worked on different sides of the building before meeting in the middle, though the results weren’t exactly symmetrical.
One of our first tasks of the day was to track down the Mannekin Pis, aka The Peeing Boy. Go here to read more about it. It’s basically a statue of a boy peeing, and it is usually clothed in one of several hundred costumes, although it was naked the day we were in Brussels. Just our luck.
We brought back many seemingly inappropriate Peeing Boy souveniers for our friends and family. I’ll assume that they were grateful.
We also tracked down the Jeanneke Pis, which is the female version of the above statue, which was put up by a restaurant to attract tourist traffic. It’s at the end of a quiet alley, and is honestly kind of creepy.
On the same quiet alley, we found the Delirium Cafe, which might just be our Favorite Bar Of All Time. It’s actually made up of multiple bars on the same block, but we headed to the basement beer bar, which holds a Guinness record for having more than 2,000 beers on the menu. The menu is the size of a phone book.
It was dark, cool and cozy, and we got to try beers that we’ll probably never have the luxury of tasting again. I’m holding a Delirium Tremens in the photo below, which is admittedly not rare, but, when in Rome.
From Delirium we went to get the best frites I’ve ever tasted, probably because we were pretty drunk. I’ve never power-eaten french fries like that in my life, and I hope I never do again. Come to think of it, I don’t remember if we ate actual lunch? Can anyone confirm?
With bellies full of frites, we caught a cab to Cantillon, a brewery in Brussels that was founded in 1900 and is still run by the original family today. They make lambic beers (aka sour & sometimes fruity) that are spontaneously fermented by yeast in the air, rather than by yeast that is manually added directly to the beer.
There is a self-guided tour through a rickety wood building that ends with a tasting. The brewery itself is really hard to find. We found the street address in a Rick Steves’ book, and gave that to our cabbie, and made it just fine, but if you just tell them to take you to Cantillon, you probably won’t get very far. You can walk from Grand Place, but the neighborhood it’s in is pretty shady, so I don’t recommend it unless you have a posse.
SInce we’ve been home, we’ve had a couple of bottles of Lindeman’s lambic that is readily available here in the states, but it pales in comparison. Cantillon is so good and tasty, so if you ever get the chance to try it, please do, or I will curse you for the rest of your days.
After Cantillon, we grabbed one more drink (of water) in the town square before heading back to the train station and catching an evening train to Paris.
Oh and I also bought this pillow in Brussels. I have no explanation.