One last tube trip in the big city took us to St Pancras station where we had bid adieu to Linda and the UK and hopped on the Eurostar bound for the mainland. It's been a while since I have experienced the tingle of excitement that comes with jumping on a train in one country knowing that a few short hours later you will be deposited in another country where they speak another language and have another culture. The Eurostar is exactly such a train; it's pretty badass. For one, it's quick: only 2 hrs from London to Brussels. For two, you go under the English channel in a tunnel. One minute you're speeding through England and a few minutes later the French countryside is whipping past you. Awesome.
Brussels is an interesting place. It's the capital of the E.U. And our hotel was literally in the shadow on the huge E.U. Building. We navigated the subway system pretty smoothly and dropped bags at the hotel and headed out on the town. We wandered across town towards the impressive Grand Place via Brussels offering to the world of European cathedrals. We took a spin through the main square where there was a rock festival taking place and after rocking out for a few minutes decided it was time to find a nice place to enjoy our first Belgian beers. Let's be honest; there are cathedrals and beautiful plazas in every city in Europe; we didn't come to Belgium for that! After a long wander looking for just the right establishment we settled into a little table outside of a nice looking place and made our choices. Gina selected the Chimay 9% (blue label, if you're keeping score at home) and I got the Affligem Blonde; both served out of the unique glassware that all Belgians are to be consumed from. Delicious!!
Aside from beer, chocolate and waffles there is one other reason people come to Brussels; his name is Manekin Pis and he is a little fella. A little fella famous for his...uh, little fella; which emits a constant stream and seems to be the most amazing thing to the crowd of tourists crammed into the area surrounding him and snapping photos with an insane fury! We took a couple obligatory shots including the one attached to this post, but moved on quickly as there was a cozy looking pub across the way that had a fire going and a couple of seats with our names on them. This time we got a little more daring and picked a couple we hadn't heard of; Vedett Wit and La Chouffe off their taps. Man, if you are into tasting fine beers I can't recommend Belgium highly enough. There are seemingly endless choices and from what I can tell you can't really go wrong. Getting hungry we headed back to our neighborhood to find a spot to get some mussels, but couldn't find a place that seemed to be right. In the end we gave into our growling stomachs and settled on a pizza spot near our hotel; vowing that tomorrow in Bruges we would get the mussels that we came for.
In the morning we hit a quick jog around the Parc and then found a nice little spot for Gina to enjoy a Belgian waffle (stacked with freah strawberries, powdered sugar and Nutella) for breakfast and to get fueled up on coffee before we hopped our train out to Bruges. A quick stop, but a good one!