Friday, August 15, 2008

I Love Brussels

Escaping Vesuvius
Originally uploaded by simpsonatti
This became the phrase of the week after an endlessly hilarious trip to Brussels last weekend with my friend Agnieszka.

Why Brussels? I wasn't too sure. It's close enough to Ireland to make a good weekend trip and it rhymes with the mussels Belgium is so famous for.

We arrived in the city late on Friday night, dumped our bags at the hotel and headed straight for the bars. Unbeknownst to us we happened to be staying right near the Red Light District, home to seedy looking cinemas and Eygyptian boy racers. So after an eye opening trip down the main street we headed to the bar quarter on the look out for some of that famous Belgium beer.

I was never a great fan of Belgium beer, and the Krieg (cherry flavoured beer) reinforced this. Basically its bright red, sickeningly sweet and if it was up to me should be banned from existence. After repeatedly refusing the very common Stella Artois, I did try some other (better) varieties, although I still think German beer trumps them all.

Anyway, after a very late night/morning, we headed back to the hotel for some much needed rest before getting on one of those terribly tacky hop-on, hop-off tour buses with recorded commentary. Despite beginning the tour very seriously, this degenerated quickly when we realised that the English version of the tour wasn't working, so we decided to listen to it in Japanese instead. We got off at the first stop, which was the Atomium, a famous Brussels landmark in the shape of an atom which you can go to the top of to get a great view of the city.

While up there I looked down to see the Eiffel Tower, Mt Vesuvius and the Leaning Tower of Pisa. No, we weren't in Space looking down at Europe, but we were looking at.... Mini Europe! By far the highlight of any trip to Brussels, it contains miniature versions of all EU member states.

Mini Europe prompted a very serious Mini Euro Tour photo shoot (see left and
during which we morphed into Japanese aliens.

During a walk around the very quaint city centre, we visited the main square and Mannikin Piss, the famous statue of a little boy peeing which, according to legend, was erected in honour of a boy who put out great fires of Brussels while doing his business.

After a compulsory waffle eating mission, we headed in what we thought was the direction of our hotel only to end up at a fun fair. We took a quick ride and headed back to the hotel before going out to the Delirium Bar, known for its selection of over 2000 beers.

On Sunday we finished off the bus tour, catching a glimpse of the EU district, beautiful cathedrals and the palace.

Before leaving we finally had a bite of Brussels Mussels before heading back to the airport.

All in all a fantastic trip!

I love Brussels.


Anonymous said...

I assume you were not in the Dutch part of Belgium?

Helen Simpson said...

Of course not, Brussels is 90% French =)