Brussels is the gastronomy capital of Europe not to mention that it is also, quite literally, the capital of Europe. Stark and I stayed just one night in a Sofitel that overlooked the European Union Parliament which is on Rue Wiertz 60. To the Europeans Brussels is actually spelled Bruxelles, but I bet you already knew that.
We spent most of it just wandering through random gardens and trying to find the famous Manneken Pis. We finally found it after going the wrong direction a time or two and getting distracted by souvenirs and Belgian beer shops. The Grand Place is an area filled with people crossing in every which way, tour guides escorting groups from one corner to the next, while gypsies pick-pocket anyone they can get to run into them. After finding the Manneken Pis for a quick picture, Stark and I were on to our primary task which was to find amazing mussels to eat in Brussels.
We ate just at the top end of the Grand Place where everyone was gathering and while we waited for our food, I was giddy to watch three or four gypsies playing some Bohemian style music on a blanket in the middle of the street. I joked about how we were going to go over there after dinner and I was going to sit down and start playing a sitar randomly. That would have been a great photo but they were done and gone by the time we were through savoring the most amazing mussels I’ve ever had in my entire life.
We didn’t know if it was the freshness that made the mussels literally fall off your fork and begin to melt on the plate if you didn’t catch it quite right, or if it was the cream and butter that these traditional Brussels mussels were steamed in. Either way, we shared only one bowl and were tempted to get another one. But we also had Brussels frites with dinner, a Kierk (cherry) flavored lambic and needed to save room for a traditional Belgian waffle.
Belgian waffle counters are littered across the tourist areas of Brussels, but we later found out that there is nothing traditional about the Brussels waffles we are so addicted to in the states. Only the tourist areas have them. By our house, it took over a dozen restaurants to find anyone who even served a traditional, plain Belgian waffle without all the Belgian chocolate, strawberries, and other toppings they’ll pile on at the tourist sights. But, a waffle is a waffle and the Belgian waffles are lightly made with cream and I adore them. We can get overly-sugared waffles back home and this sort of waffle was exactly what I was looking for. But that was the next morning (it literally took us that long to find one close to our house). So let me back up to the rest of our evening in Brussels.
After dinner we decided to take the subway just out of town to the end of the line. We wanted to see the Atomium – another World’s Fair creation much like the Eiffel Tower but rather, a giant, lit-up atom and it’s surrounding electron cloud.
“When’s the last time you even dated a girl who knew what an electron cloud was and all about the science behind them?” I said as we walked towards the Atomium from the subway stop, treading through a random strip of forest with hopes that there was no one homeless sleeping in our path.
No Comment from Stark.
“Fine. I guess it’s not that big of a deal. It is a pretty juvenile thing to remember for the early days of science classes. Still, I always thought the chemistry behind the electron cloud was fun.”
From there we stood just below the Atomium which was lit up in the night and taller than expected. We took pictures from a dozen different angles and admired it’s random purpose out here in the middle of nowhere, by a theater, and Little Europe. Our goal of visiting it was complete so we road the train back home in time for me to work from the hotel room before bed.
Yet another adventurous day down, with two more cities and one more country under our belt. The traveling was becoming exhausting, but we had yet one more city to see the next morning – Amsterdam.