Jul 09, 2007
From two trips to Brussels, these are some of the highlights:
--the Belgian Dynasty museum. We had some trouble finding the museum at first, but apparently it's on the corner in a building right next to the Royal Palace. I guess it's logical, but that's not how it looked on the map of Brussels we had. Apparently at some point every Belgian King pisses off his people and practically living away from them or has some other really strange quirk that the people don't like. I guess that's what happens when royals inbreed for so long. But the museum is still pretty interesting, particularly if you aren't up on your royalty or Belgian history. Also, there are the coolest "chairs" that look like large chunks of tofu.
--the royal palace, which was AMAZING! (sorry, no pix from the palace -- you're not allowed to use cameras there.) Most of the palace is done in gold and white, but then there's this one room that has these two huge glittering emerald panels on the ceiling (prolly about 10x20) and then a chandelier that matches the one that actually works, but is also covered in this green-blue sparkling material. It's unbelievably beautiful -- and apparently this is from beetle wings. 2 million wings of beetles for the two ceiling panels and the chandelier. and they are huge beetles. It's unbelievable.
--brewery tour of the last family-run lambic brewery in Brussels -- this is a bit out of the way and not near much else, and you seem to walk through a bit of the not-so-nice part of Brussels on the way there, but who can refuse a brewery tour? Actually, the "tour" in fact is just one person from the family that runs the place telling you how the process is done via pictures hanging just inside the entry way, and then you walk yourself through the brewery with a paper map. But in the end you get two beers -- a regular lamibc beer (it's really acidic -- basically like drinking a lemon wedge) and then some cherry lambic (same as before but with some cherry flavor).
--the first indoor mall is, surprisingly, not an American suburban phenomenon, but actually a Belgian idea from the 1800s. It's really quite massive and pretty -- much nicer architecturally than what you'll see in the states.
and of course, there's the food! Of all the waffles I've eaten in Brussels, I think the small window of a waffle place just to the left of the Mannequin Pis is actually the best. Perhaps it's because it is right next to a major tourist site, so their waffles are always hot and fresh. As much as I'm never one to turn down a waffle with some combination of strawberries, bananas, or chocolate, the simplicity of the powdered sugar is really amazing. And while you're there, don't forget to take a look at the fountain/statute, either. In addition to the waffles, don't forget the mussels and french fries! and pick up some chocolate and gin to take home with you -- I recommend the fruit flavored gin. No need for a lime in your G&T with this gin!
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