July 1, 2018

Europe 2018 day 2: tourist traps in Brussels

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Woke up in the morning to views of the hydrangeas in the garden right outside our windows at La Chambre d'à Côté.  Not something I'm used to, but how could I not love it?!

At the appointed time Anne-Catherine brought us the breakfast spread, and what a spread it was!


There were giant croissants bigger than my palm...

... and croque monsieur...

After resting for a little after breakfast, Anne-Catherine's son-in-law drove us back to Brussels - shaving a chunk off the normally hefty taxi fare. We dropped our luggage off at Hilton Brussels Grand Place, and went about exploring - where else? - Le Grand-Place

And it WAS grand - especially in the sunlight when the gold glitters.  This was also a great opportunity for Hello Kitty to use her 360 camera.

There was, of course, the obligatory stop at Manneken Pis.  Unfortunately this wasn't a special day, so he was naked today...

We were getting a little hungry, so we went around looking for some lunch.  It's Sunday and pretty much most of the decent places to eat shut down, so we made do with some tourist trap food at Brussels Grill near the Grand Place.


Kroketten van grijze garnalen - the grey shrimps are meant to be a local specialty, but I honestly couldn't make it out from the gooey filling...

Salad Niçoise - Hello Kitty wanted to have salad, although I wasn't really sure why she ordered this one when the objective was to have veggies...

Moules frites - well... I guess we're in Belgium... so we ordered it even know we knew that 1) it's a tourist trap and 2) it's a fucking Sunday so the mussels have probably been soaking in their own piss for a while (something I learned from Tony Bourdain years ago).

We both had Leffe Blonde, but naturally hers was twice the size of mine...

With our stomachs full, we moved over to the Magritte Museum for a little bit of culture.  That was a rare opportunity to see some works from an amazing artist.  We also spent a little time in the Oldmasters Museum, but it wasn't as interesting as I thought it would be.

Brussels is home to a number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites besides Le Grand-Place, most of which are architectural masterpieces.  So I spent the afternoon (after having watched Russia beat Spain from our hotel room) criss-crossing the city in search of them.

Stoclet House was my first stop.  The house is still occupied by the family which commissioned it, so I stood outside the fence and snapped a few shots.

The next few stops were all old apartment buildings done in Art Nouveau style by Victor Horta, and I wasn't able to get into any of them.  First up was Hôtel van Eetvelde.  Not being able to see the supposedly beautiful interior, the exterior seemed a little disappointing.

Hotel Tassel was next, and it was very beautiful.  If only I had planned my visit better so I could take a tour...

Our final stop of the day was Hotel Solvay a few blocks away.

Hello Kitty was tired and hungry, so we went back to the area near our hotel to grab a bite.  We had passed by BrewDog and it looked interesting thanks to the craft beers, so we sat on the deck and hung out to watch the sun go down.

The sharing super pack that Hello Kitty ordered wasn't all that great.  The southern fried chicken strips were unsurprisingly dry and meh.  The Cajun corn on the cob was greasy.  The french fries and sweet potato fries were fine.  But the chicken wings were from left field... coated with tomato salsa that had chili sauce added.  Oh and the beers weren't that great, either... according to Hello Kitty.

A sad end to a day when we played tourist.  Hopefully tomorrow will be better...

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