Monday, May 11, 2009


Well, I just spent a lovely weekend in Brussels (spent has two meanings for me lately: to spend time doing something, but also to spend way more money than I want to--the dollar is really killing me. Can we change currencies?). The weather was mercifully beautiful until we arrived back in Angers where it promptly started raining as if on cue. I wore my sandals and all was right with the world.

I've found that to see most cities one usually only needs a couple of days at most. This excludes giant cities like Paris where walking to the nearest metro station takes about a day in itself (j'exagere, but it felt like that sometimes). I've also found that museums, unless they have a stupendous reputation (Musee d'Orsay, Centre Pompidou, etc.), are a huge waste of time. While you could be out in the city absorbing the sights and the culture you're stuck inside this gigantic building looking at mediocre art or fossils or something. Thus, we did not visit museums and we did not go in the cathedral.

What we did do is eat and walk around and talk and just look at everything. We took it easy, didn't hurry ourselves, and made sure we were having fun first and foremost. Have you ever been on vacation and noticed how so many people on vacation act like they're SO STRESSED OUT and in SUCH A HURRY to go EVERYWHERE and see EVERYTHING that they forget to HAVE FUN? Well, I saw a lot of people like that this weekend, and we were determined not to follow suit.

Let me first say, yes the waffles are amazing. The one in the photo was a " gauffre Bruxelles." I also tried a "gauffre Liegeois" which I preferred. It had a thicker, more-cakelike consistency and was covered in a thin layer of slightly crusty sugar. I don't know how they do that, but I'm determined to figure it out and replicate it. They give you these little ridiculous plastic forks with three tongs that you're supposed to use to eat the things. After discovering how futile this is, I tossed the fork in favor of my fingers, which are more fun to use anyways because you can indiscreetly lick the powdered sugar off them afterwards.

Brussels was, as are most European cities, quite beautiful. And Brussels has the added benefit of being the capital of the European Union. We walked around the EU parliament building, and it was what most modern buildings are--big, shiny, and impressive, but totally not worth the time it would have taken for us to wait in the line to get inside. I know I'm probably uttering some profanity by saying this, but big, shiny, impressive buildings are not my thing. I'd rather sit in a park any day of the week.

The thing that struck me the most about Brussels was how lively the city was. Granted, it's a major tourist destination for Europeans and foreigners alike, but you get the sense that Brussels has a pretty involved community. This is probably at least partially due to the money that pours into the capital of the EU and which enables the city to have all manner of festivals and initiatives. While we were there we constantly saw stages being set up and taken down, fireworks going off at night, and posters everywhere for upcoming festivities. There was street music everywhere (good street music; not dirty hippies banging on guitars), and I couldn't help but feel charmed by the small city appeal that Brussels has.

And yes, we had the chocolate and some pretty fabulous Belgian beer, which is infinitely superior to French beer. One thing that bugs me about France is that you can get French wine (great) and French beer (not so much), but I have yet to see any Italian wine or Belgian or German beer here. It seems a little silly. I mean, there are some really great Italian wines and some really great German and Belgian beers. Why not import them? It seems a little chauvinistic to me, although it could just have something to do with the rules they impose on food products here. In any case, don't come to France looking for great beer, folks. Try Belgium instead.
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1 comment:

Robert said...

I know you are busy, but try and keep up with posting! I am find it difficult as well, but don't give up. It's really interesting to hear about your travels!