Way back in November, BV and I went on a last-minute road trip to Brussels for a long weekend. One of my favorite bands, Jimmy Eat World, was playing there, and I thought it was high time I saw them live in concert. The concert was great, as was the rest of the weekend. To be honest, I had to little to no expectations for Brussels beyond waffles, fries, and chocolate. Priorities, right? Oh, and beer. Again, priorities.
We ate, we drank, and we will be back because we were so busy eating and drinking that we didn’t have time to do a lot of the things we planned on. What’s a museum when there are so many kinds of beer on tap? Oh well… just an excuse to return. For now though, I’d like to share a couple of thoughts I had during our visit…
1) What language am I speaking??
Despite my student’s insistence that Belgian people all speak German, my super Deutsch skills were of little use in Brussels. I thought it would be fun to brush the dust off of my old high school French, but every time I tried to come up with a word or phrase when we were out and about, German filled my brain and spilled out of my mouth. Go figure. I’m not sure if I should be encouraged by this, or if I should just forget it because I’m clearly a lost cause. My partner on this adventure was also having trouble in the language department. We had gone over some basics before the trip, but every time he opened his mouth to say “merci,” it came out “grazi.” It was cute, and we were confused, but at least we were confused together. Brussels is such a great international city, so no matter what language we were speaking, we had no problems getting around or communicating.
2) Teenagers speaking French = cool.
On another language note… I don’t know why, but if I see a group of hipster kids speaking French, I feel like I’m back in high school again. Like “hey everybody! Look at the dork with the book!” Kids speaking French are somehow inherently cooler than I have ever been, or will ever be.
3) Variety is the spice of life, but don’t get carried away.
Oh man. So many beers. So. Many. Beers. BV was dubious, because he is a good little German and doesn’t think that beer needs more than four ingredients. But after trying a few, including one that was served in a HORN, he was convinced that sometimes an extra ingredient isn’t a bad thing. On the other hand, maybe it wasn’t a good idea to taste test so many beers right before the concert…. it’s a little fuzzier than I would have liked it to be, especially after waiting so many years to finally see Jimmy Eat World.
4) Graffiti isn’t always hideous.
Before anyone jumps up my butt on this one, let me clarify. I know that not all street art is hideous, and I’ve seen a lot of great work in the last few years. Hell, I have an original piece here in the house that a friend did when I lived in Prague. But where I am in Germany there isn’t really much of a street art “scene,” so most of what I see on a daily basis is just tagging about F.C. Nürnberg, or fuck the police, or something along those lines. Brussels was a nice reminder that street art can be so bright, so funny, and so refreshing in a classically beautiful European city.
5) Free samples are the best.
Everyone knows the reputation that Belgian chocolate has. What I didn’t know was that I could virtually eat my way through the many, many, many chocolate shops. There was a gorgeous gallery conveniently located between our hotel and the city center that had at least five or six shops inside, and all you had to do was go inside, take a lap, and an employee was at your elbow offering a tray of goodies for you to test. If you’re in Brussels, you could easily spend an afternoon taste-testing your way though the old town. We didn’t just freeload though, we picked up some Christmas gifts for family, and a bunch to bring home too. This week we finally finished off an assorted box that we put together at Chocopolis, and we will be back for more. Nom. Nomnomnom.
Have you been to Brussels? Any must-dos to recommend for the next trip?