Day Seven & Eight: Playing tourist

After settling all my affairs Saturday, I hopped on the metro and let myself wander without a map throughout Brussels. There was a music festival going on this weekend, so if I stumbled into some live music – lovely. If I found a museum I wanted to try – probably better, because it’s raining again. And if I find waffles, you know what’s going to happen there. Just by following the sounds of music and random groups of people* I ended up smack dab in the middle of tourist country, Brussels.

I can’t even tell you the names of all the things I saw – I really do need a walking/biking tour to understand the rich history here. (Fun fact I did learn is that Belgium recently broke Iraq’s previous record for length of time existing without an official government in place. Ha!) At one point I managed to stumble into this gorgeous plaza with intricate, soaring buildings all around me. Statues and gilded pillars studded the facades, and people all around me were walking in slow circles with their camera above their heads. (What did we do before panorama mode?) I asked the nearest British tourist to please not laugh at me and tell me where I was – I had found Grand Place! (Don’t ask me what that means, though. Not yet.) I took pictures in zooms of three to show you some random details.

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Surrounding Grand Place are lots of famous chocolate shops, lacemakers, and countless restaurants. I stopped in one for a drink and chatted with the waiter trying to rope people into the restaurant. His 20-something friend stopped by, another waiter, and when he found out I was American, he bellowed, “OBAMAAA!!!” which of course made me happy. He asked me to come to his restaurant so he can make me a plate of mussels, and I could kindly please take it to “meester president obama” because he would be so honored to have the president eating his food. Don’t know how far past security I could get but hey, the thought counted.

Other major Saturday accomplishments included securing a local phone, my monthly metro pass, and walking around so much I was icing my ankles all night.

Sunday afternoon, I met two of the other interns for the market at Garde du Midi. This is the market I went to, very first thing after arriving in Belgium. I saw more of it this time, from the clothes to the wallpaper to the cutlery demonstrations and, of course, oh lordy the food. The expense for onion and garlic surprised me but I also got a pineapple and some bananas anyway. OH and those naan wraps, thank you anonymous internet tipster that told me find them. In the market there’s one really long booth close to the bridge where you can order custom-made naan wraps.  I got one with chevre, olives, artichokes, figs, sundried tomatoes, and an olive/pickle/celery mix. If it wasn’t so darn filling I would have had two. I also tried their tea – supersweet but the hot drink was good for a drizzly day.

Next I wandered around Avenue Louise, one of the shopping areas, afterwards. The Chanel store is looking very scottish-kilt-meets-grune-meets-80s-makeup-mannequin these days. We dropped into a super great cafe for lattes in the afternoon too, Workshop, and traded travel stories and baby pictures on Facebook. We also found some wonderful live music – I highly recommend you listen to some Gaëtan Streel. For different songs, he sounded like Gary Lightbody from Snow Patrol, Jack Johnson, and Marcus Mumford. After our adventures, I trekked back to my new apartment, pineapple in tow, and learned the history of my new residence.

Which means… new house tour coming soon! In the meantime, here are some pictures from my two days of walking through the capital of Europe.

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*Yes, I did that. I look less like a target for thief-ing when I’m in a group, and if I hover just far enough back the group doesn’t notice

PS – If you want to read something much funnier than I will ever write on expat living… please please PLEASE read Oh God, My Wife is German. I was peeing my pants laughing at his wedding tips and the story of getting a haircut by a Turkish man in Germany.

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