Brussels, Belgium

Brussels, Belgium
May 29th 2010

The Godfather of Toilets

I arrive in Brussels late in the evening on the 29th. It was drizzling when I got here so I pulled out my €8 umbrella and opened it up. The first gust of wind pretty much took it out. It wasn’t even a strong wind. The umbrella turned inside out. I decided to walk to my hostel.

Upon getting there, the umbrella went into the trash can. There was a group checking in ahead of me. Americans, judging by their accents. They were a playful group but I was thinking “Oh boy, another group of Americans again”. I check in, head to my room, and lo and behold, who are my roommates? The Americans. But they were so friendly, they started asking me where I was from and turns out, we’re all from Texas! They’re from “The Valley” close to the Mexican border. They’re all studying abroad for a month in Salamanca and they were going through Brussels from Amsterdam. Turns out, they barely knew each other as well, only a week. They were thrown together for the study abroad program. Anyway, they were cool and friendly enough to invite a solo traveller to go have dinner with them. I haven’t met many groups who did that.

We wandered all the way to Fritland, a popular frit (fries) joint. That place was packed and everyone got a sandwich that had meat and fries in it. Pretty tasty stuff.

We wandered the streets of Brussels until it was late. Waffles, chocolate, the moving statues (the guy sucked), and Mannekin Pis (unimpressive statue of little boy pissing, supposed to be a famous symbol in Belgium). All in the night’s work. Then went back to hostel to have a beer with the Texican crew.

The next day, they all left and I was on my own again. Wandered my way to a random section of downtown Brussels and guess what? It starts to rain again. I heard a church bell go off. I started thinking maybe I could seek refuge in a church. It was a small, ancient looking church, very European Catholic. I walk in, some people were gathered. I was wondering if they were all visiting but they looked like locals. Then a preacher walks in. Turns out, I walked right into a Belgian Sunday morning church service. I stuck around for a while, just to check it out. Service was in French so that didn’t help. It was pretty uneventful since everything was slow moving and traditional.

I left in the middle and walked back downtown. It was drizzling lightly so I just walked around to check out all the shops and streets. There was a small square with Sunday morning market stalls set up. I thought the home made perfume shop was interesting. After browsing the streets, I end up getting some lunch at a place called Belgo Belge. That shit was more expensive than I thought it would be. Plus the guy asked me if I wanted water, I said yes. Then he said “Still or sparkling?”. I thought “still” meant tap water (read: free water) so I said “still”. Wrong, it cost me €3.50 for a bottle of high grade water (I think it’s supposed to make you forever young if you drink enough of it). And because the menu was in French, I got some fish dish based on the waiter’s suggestion. Didn’t get very much, all for €14.50. Another mistake I’ve made on my trip so far. Costs so much for nothing.

Anyway, I left feeling unsatisfied. Walked to the Belgian Comic center (it’s a long French name I’d rather not say) and for €7 admission, I left feeling unsatisfied again. Everything was in French for the most part, so I couldn’t read all the comics that were posted. It was supposed to be the history of comic culture in Belgium. Boring stuff to be honest.

All in all, pretty boring and lousy day in Brussels. I heard Brugge was better but it was the other way so I left to Amsterdam later than day.