Wednesday, April 6, 2011

EuroTrip Day 5: Brussels

Day Five (July 14, 2009)

It was again 11 before I got out of bed. However at least this time around I had Dan to blame. He hung up on our wake up call. Luckily, he didn't have to work until his presentation which was at 2. A bit smarter this time around, I decided to skip the treadmill and was able to keep the shower inside the actual shower, success! Although, I have to say my experience with the drains in Europe has not been top notch... most showers I stand in a tub half full of dirty water, praying it will all drain eventually.

The goal of the day for Deanna and I was to visit the musee de chocolat. Oh yes, that's French for Chocolate Museum. Walking all over the city is starting to become second nature - well, walking the 1 street between the hotel and Grand Place is anyway. The museum however, was not where my Brussels Book said it was. Finally I asked someone who looked like they spoke English. The actual museum (diagonally located across the Grand Place from where the book said it would be) was closed for lunch. Frustrated and a bit hungry myself, I was given a recommendation for the Mannequin Frites, or, best place in town to buy fries. So we all know that fries and ketchup go together well. But in order to be like a local, I tried the fries dipped in spicy mayonnaise. Yes, I was dipping my fatty fry in more fat. But - as fat usually is - it was DELICIOUS. So our super nutritious lunch ended (fries and a Coke counts as lunch, no?) we were ready for dessert and headed back to the chocolate museum. Learned quite a bit about how chocolate is made, the difference between light, dark and white. Also, we found out why Belgian chocolate is so good: it’s the only place left on earth that continues to use 100% cocoa butter. Most other producers use up to 5% filler oils, like palm oil. After our knowledge and fair share of samples, we rolled ourselves to the highlight of the city: the Mannequin Pis.

Everywhere you go in Brussels there are small figurines of the mannequin pis. You can have it as a chocolate mold, or a wine corkscrew, whatever you want! So I have to admit that I was completely underwhelmed when I saw it - so much smaller than I imagined it to be! Nonetheless, it is an interesting little statue. Supposedly, it was built for 1 of 2 reasons: to commemorate a child of some King's who wandered off in the Grand Place and was lost forever. Or, as an honorary statue to the child who was responsible for putting out a fire by peeing on it. Either way, the statue has been a Brussels fixture since the 1600's.

On the way back to the Hotel, Deanna and I stopped at a variety of little shops on the street. I was desperate to go to the bathroom, and couldn't for the life of me find a public toilet. Eventually I was told that I had to go to "Quick". So to the burger palace I headed, and paid my .40 euro to use the most disgusting bathroom I have ever been in. It honestly smelled as if someone had the most explosive diarrhea ever, made it into a candle and lit 500 of them in that small bathroom space. Worst part of the trip so far was definitely using that bathroom that I paid about $1 for. $1 is one junior bacon cheeseburger from Wendy's... far more worthy.

By dinner time, the engineers were itching to get out into the city where after 5 hours of touring, Deanna and I just wanted to sit down. But, back to the Grand place we went for dinner. We walked through a bunch of little cafes and such out on the street, but never sat down; it was hard to find a place that could seat 7 people together. Finally, I made an executive decision and we ended up eating inside a restaurant on the Grand Place. It was hot as hell and I am pretty certain the waiters forgot that we were there. Dinner turned out to be ok. I had a chicken breast swimming in a mixture of butter and cream with small potatoes. Dan had half a chicken. Literally, a chicken cut in half! Naturally, dinner took about 3 hours.

But 3 hours for a meal really isn't enough, so we headed to a creperie for dessert. That added another hour onto our dinner process. I didn't have a crepe because I wanted gelato instead. But I did get a $4 bottle of mineral water. This mineral water tasted like Poland springs. I enjoyed it thoroughly, and look forward to getting home and having a huge bottle of water that tastes like water! One of Dan's coworkers got a crepe that was covered in caramel. But the thing was, it was basically just really hot sugar, so in the beginning it was too hot for him to eat, but when it cooled, it hardened, so it stuck to his teeth. It was quite amusing for all of us to watch him struggle with that!

The night ended with my chocolate gelato (finally) and our walk back to the hotel in broad daylight. It was 10 pm.

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