From my Frankfort abode, I walked over to the train station so that I could continue on to my next stop. I was looking forward to spending a few days in Belgium and planned to use Brussels as a base for the duration of my time there.
I arrived at the slightly sketchy Gare du Nord, and checked into my very average hostel nearby. This place had an awful internet connection, complete lack of atmosphere, and a pointless policy of closing the common room and kitchen in the afternoons and night. Not sure why I went on to stay there for several days.
That evening I went to out into the city with a guy from Toronto. We didn’t do a whole lot, but did stop at the main square, which looked very cool against the dark sky.
The next stop, and reason behind the outing was Delirium Tremens, an insanely popular bar. In addition to being large and having plenty of atmosphere, they are also registered by Guinness as the bar stocking the most types of beer in the world. There were over 2000 to choose from and even included a few from Grand Rapids. Of course though, I was their to get the house beer, which was once voted the best in the world. I passed on their namesake beer and instead went with the darker Delirium Nocturnum instead. A grand choice indeed.
We stopped into another place where I got one of the fruit beers famous around Belgium. It was a bit odd for a beer, but unique and worth it. After that it was home and right to bed (having nowhere to hang out at the hostel…). One of the places nearby the Delirium bar included the peeing girl statue. She compliments the much more famous boy nicely.
The next morning I had another of these free walking tours, and we met at the main square that I had visited it the night before. It looked just as impressive during the day as well.
It took some time to sort us into groups, and soon we were on our way. I wasn’t super social with the people, but I did follow along curiously. Our tour guide was Dutch and had been living here for a while. He was an interesting guy to listen to and knew the answers to most of what we asked him. One thing that I learned about was the rich history of comics in this country; Tin Tin, The Smurfs, and Asterix were some of the most famous. There was a lot of this sort of street art around the city.
One of our stops was to the “most disappointing tourist attraction” – Manneken Pis. It was pretty small, but I found the Little Mermaid statue far more disappointing than this one. While I was there they were unveiling his latest costume, an activity that draws an impressive crowd. There is a government official who’s sole purpose is to design and craft clothing for this otherwise naked statuette. Once the city’s flag was drawn away, I could see a little Dutch boy. The other highlight was that from his boyhood erupted an almighty stream upon the crowd. I borrowed this video from the internet, it isn’t quite Dutch, but you can get the idea.
At the end of the tour, I walked around a bit myself and stopped to get some fries. These are famous here and for a small extra fee come with some interesting sauces. I went with both samurai and American sauce, although both were completely foreign to me.
That evening I joined some others at the hostel back at the Delirium bar, and then we went to a bar called Celtica. This was a really cheap place with some good dancing. I was there with a Pol, Norwegian, and Brazilian, all of us brought together for a good night. The Polish girl was able to get in touch with some guys she had met earlier, so we all went and met them at a really swanky club.
The bouncers stopped me at the door but our fashionable female friends were able to get me in. Inside, the contact of the Pol were suited up and kept the bottle service coming. I have no idea why people think treating strangers is worthwhile, but for me drinks were free the rest of the night. Bueno.
The only other thing that really happened in Brussels was a visit to the European Parliament. I couldn’t see any important people in action, but I was able to learn about the history of it’s origins and growth. It was free and worth the visit, since I definitely walked away with something new in my head.