Sunday morning, we slept in. I woke up at 7:30 feeling guilty, then went back to sleep til 10. It was glorious. We made coffee in the room in our beer classes, thanks to Starbucks Via. (Europe does not put coffeemakers in their hotel rooms, you know.) I managed to drop my phone face-down on the bathroom floor and shattered the screen. That worried me a lot until I realized it was still usable, and I could wait to replace it when we were home.
We headed down to Grand-Place to walk around. Everything was still covered in trash from the night before, but we figured that would be cleaned up fairly soon.
My camera battery was officially dead. We went to go check the battery store, but it was closed on Sundays. Thank god for the cameraphone, even with a broken screen.
It was still cold in Brussels. I was wearing a hoodie and had my pants rolled down, but I’d have been happy for a jacket.
Belgian waffles are no joke… they’re REALLY into waffles in all forms there.
Grand-Place was amazing. There are sidewalk restaurants all over the place, too. As expected on a Sunday morning, it was full of other tourists. One thing that we were slowly realizing about Brussels, too: though they’re in the Dutch-speaking part of the country, people in the city speak French for the most part. It’s a little island of French-speakers. And for those of us who know some German and therefore find Dutch really easy to interpret, it was kind of frustrating.
We wandered around the same alleys we’d been in the previous night, looking for a lunch place. We paused for 2 seconds in front of a menu board at a Venetian-themed restaurant, and a server came running out to try to convince us to come in. It wasn’t very difficult at all. We got a table and ordered Leffe Brun, which quickly became one of my favorite beers.
There were only a couple vegetarian items on the menu, but I didn’t care: they had Italian-style four cheese pizza. Matt got a bucket of mussels with frites. He was covering the traditional-Belgian bases for us.
After lunch, we went to find the Manekin-Pis. And that’s exactly what it was. There was a huge crowd around it, of course.
We checked out the map, and decided to walk up to see the palaces and huge park between them.
Brussels is really picturesque. It’s also full of litter. We realized later that that wasn’t entirely Pride-party related… there’s just discarded crap laying everywhere. It’s strange, because that’s the only city we visited that was like that.
We climbed up a hill toward the palaces, and hung out on the front steps of the Palais d’Egmont for a while.
The Palais Royale is at one end of the Parc de Bruxelles.
The park itself is really pretty. There are walking paths everywhere, trees, flowers, and fountains.
The Palais de la Nacion is at the other end.
From there we went to walk down to the botanical gardens, but by halfway there we realized it was much farther than we thought. We decided to head back into the main part of town, and found a confusing way to get there on the map. It took us past a high-rise building complex that looked basically like a hobo jungle… all the windows were broken out, and there was graffiti all over everything. The plaza was overgrown with weeds. The far side of the building looked like maybe it was under construction, though. It was really confusing.
We passed the Cathedrale St-Michel on the way:
We stopped at a grocery store to pick up the hairspray I desperately needed (note: 2 travel-sized cans in that amount of time is not enough), and also found more Kriek Max, some beer, and Belgian Go Ahead. They were everywhere!
We dropped our bag off at the hotel, then went back down to Grand-Place. We figured this might be a good time to check out Delirium Cafe, since it was only 3pm. And it was! The front area (the actual cafe) wasn’t very busy at all, and the server was awesome.
After a couple rounds there, we went to look at the rest of the complex. We ended up downstairs in the main beer bar. The bartender asked if we wanted the beer list, and this is what we got. It’s more of a catalog:
In the time we were there we ordered, according to my list: Val-Dieu Tripel, St Idesbald Dubbel, St Feuillien Tripel, Chouffe Houblon, Kopstoot, Gueuze Tilquin, and Cre Tonnerre.
We were sitting at the bar directly in front of their certificate from the Guinness Book verifying that they have the largest selection of beers in the world. That’s no joke.
We had a couple ideas of where to go for dinner, so we walked over to an area about half a mile away to find them. The first was called Java Cafe, but they didn’t serve food there. There was also a Vietnamese place nearby, so we walked over there. It was across the street from a place called the Snack Bread-In. I still don’t know what that is.
We ordered vegetable spring rolls, pho, tofu fried with vegetables, and rice. Everything was excellent, and the place became very crowded while we were there. (We had to shift over in our 4-person table so they could divide it in half to make two, which meant we also had to have the table next to us get up when we left.) Behind Matt, there was a couple that seemed to be having some sort of food orgy. They were inhaling all the food in the world at an amazing pace, and slamming wine. The lady kept giving the man an orgasmic look. It was hella creepy.
We had to wait a really long time to get the check, since Europeans love sitting at the table forever. We finally got it and headed back to the hotel to change, because it was getting cold again.
We decided to go get a cocktail in the hotel bar, even though we were way too underdressed for it. (No way was I wearing a dress in the cold, plus I only had hoodies to wear over it.) The bar was awesome.
The cocktails were expensive, but worth it. I loved my Sidecar. Matt had a Metropole cocktail, and the bartender brought us chips and nuts. I surreptitiously shoved the bar mat into my purse for a souvenir.
From there, we went back to the Delirium Cafe to visit the bars that hadn’t been open when we were there earlier. It was infinitely quieter than the previous night. Our first stop was the rum bar, where we decided to sample the Havana Club Seleccion de Maestros, because of course we can’t get it in the US. Stupid embargo.
We got seats along the wall just as a jam session was starting in the very small bar. They played some Bob Marley, which was awesome, and a really old Jamaican guy wandered in from the other room and took the microphone. It was kind of amazing. We wanted to leave after a while, but felt uncomfortable walking out in the middle of the show, especially since they seemed to know everyone there. They finally took a break, and we headed next door to the absinthe bar.
There was a bottle of Sazerac up on the shelf so I asked about getting a Sazerac, but the surly lady bartender didn’t understand. We got the absinthe list, and ordered. It came with the standard drip, which is always awesome to watch, and feels pretty decadent.
While we were sitting there, some guys game in and had absinthe in a pipe. It involved fire, cupping the smoke for suction, and drinking it out of the pipe. I really want to know what that’s about.
We headed back to the hotel and had a Leffe in bed while watching “Cry Terror” in French. We know how to party in Belgium!