I love him to itsy bitsy pieces.
The Viper Pilot’s sister, Shelby, is currently living in Ireland so a quick flight over to visit her favorite (and only) nephew is really easy for her. She visited when Owen was born and recently came back for a long weekend to find that the baby is just a little bit more fun this time around. He smiles and talks and giggles.
He’s basically a ham.
We decided to make a day trip over to Brussels. It’s one major city that we’ve not been to yet and have been wanting to check it off our bucket list. It’s an amazing city famous for waffles, creamy chocolate, tasty french fries, Europe’s best beer, and a statue of a little boy peeing.
Brussels is a city of a million people. It serves as the capital of Belgium and NATO headquarters, as well as the seat of the European Union and hosts 400 embassies making it incredibly multicultural. The main language is French, which we know very little of, but fortunately, almost everyone could understand our Frenglish.
The main square of the city is called the Grand Place. We stood on the corner of it looking at maps to locate the Grand Place for probably 15 minutes before we realized we were standing in it. It’s grand and ornate, but not quite what we were expecting.
The Grand Place is surrounded by spirited statues and cool architecture on all four sides. The colorful, cobblestone square is literally the heart of Brussels if you look on the map. It’s been the city market for 1000 years and is plentiful with open air shops selling fresh flowers as well as chocolates, waffles, beer, mussels, fries, and lace.
On one side is the Town Hall (with a tall spire), which is popular for weddings (we happened to see one while we were there). Opposite the Town Hall is the impressive King’s House which is now the City Museum. We didn’t tour the museums because they were rumored to be a bit mediocre at best.
The other sides boast a Brewery Museum and chocolate shops.
So…can you guess where we started?
We started with the choco-crawl. A street lined with chocolate shops. A little piece of heaven. Thank you, God. Thank you for chocolate.
Brussels is swarming with chocolate shops, but the best ones lie along the north side of the square. Each shop had its own beautiful display. You know when you were a kid and dreamed about chocolate (or candy) shops? (I still do.) This was like that but in real life. Each shop looked and smelled like everything I’ve ever dreamed of. A fairy tale come true. Shelby and I collected a sampling from four of the top chocolate shops in Belgium:
– Neuhaus, which as been around since 1857 and claims to be the inventor of the praline.
– Godiva, as you are probably familiar with, is now owned by a Turkish company and still has its management and factory (1962) in Belgium.
– Galler, known for their dark chocolate (yes, please).
– Leonidas, known for their white chocolate (which I don’t normally love, but the Belgians do it right).
We spent a pretty Euro penny on chocolate but trust me, it was so worth it.
“Oh, mama. Not another chocolate shop!” – Owen
He’ll someday learn the importance of good chocolate. I told him if he behaves and lets me eat enough chocolate, he just might get chocolate milk for dinner. 😉
Instead of going to a nice restaurant for lunch, we opted for the waffle option. You know how hotels have Belgian waffles at their complimentary breakfasts? Yeah, well, they’re nothing like the real Belgian waffles.
The little shop we stumbled upon has a chocolate fountain (a chocolate fountain!!) in the window and he used a ladle to pour that fresh Belgian chocolate right onto my warm, freshly made, delicious waffle.
This was the part where I passed out.
I may have licked my plate.
The store owner was delighted with my giddy excitement over his waffles and chocolate and once he gets his new digital menus up and running, a picture of me and my chocolate heart will be featured. I’m awesome.
Hi, I’m Emily. And I’m a chocoholic.
But you already knew that, didn’t you?
One iconic sight in Brussels that is apparently really famous is the Manneken-Pis. Like the Mona Lisa, you have to see it, but you will more than likely be disappointed. This is a statue of a little squirt taking, well, a squirt. And even with low expectations, the statue is smaller than you might think. It’s apparently an appropriately low-key symbol for the unpretentious city of Brussels.
The statue is sculpted in Renaissance style in 1619 to provide drinking water for the neighborhood. Yes, drinking water. That’s just…weird. The best part about this statue is that King Louis XV knighted the little guy so French soldiers had to salute the eternally peeing lad when they passed by. Now that, is awesome. And hilarious.
The silly statue draws a serious crowd. The commotion this little guy (the statue, not Owen) makes as tour groups come and go is rather entertaining. I mean, it’s a statue that literally never stops peeing. And he has costumes for each month. He has a whole slew of them and you can view them in a little room nearby. I think he was dressed for Cinco de Mayo as a member of a Mariachi band.
We had a seat at a pub for an afternoon
tea drink. Grimbergen for the Viper Pilot, cherry beer for Shelby, and non-alcoholic Maes for yours truly. Owen had milk.
We topped the beer off with delicious Belgian frites drenched in curry sauce making for a complete Belgian experience.
We munched on our fries while watching a parade. According to the man in the waffle shop, it was the “day of the happy people” and there was a lot going on. 🙂
Our car was in a parking garage right on the parade route and they closed it for the afternoon. We had an hour to kill. As if we hadn’t had enough to eat, we got ice cream and wandered around.
Check back later for a post on our day in Trier with Aunt Shelby! Have a wonderful Thursday, everyone.