For Father’s Day weekend, we packed up the car and drove to Belgium for a quick getaway. Since we were traveling out of England, we had to get an international traveler’s kit which included GB stickers for the car and a breathalyzer, among other things. Lena was pretty excited about it all. We also took the Chunnel for the first time despite having no idea what to expect. I was a bit stressed when I saw everyone driving their vehicles into a giant train like a herd of cattle. Kind of creepy to be traveling under the ocean on a double decker cargo caboose but luckily, the journey only lasted about 30 minutes.
Our first day was spent in Brussels as it was the furthest destination from the Chunnel. We didn’t have much of a plan for the day so we started out by taking a walk through a nearby park. I’m not sure if we were in a bad part of town but it was pretty run down and the water was more slime than liquid. Even the ducks seemed reluctant to swim in it. Lena didn’t seem to notice, however, and desperately wanted to go in. Gross.
After a quick breakfast at our hotel, we hopped on the subway towards the town center. I guess we’ve been a bit spoiled living in England and have become accustomed to the high level of cleanliness here. The subway situation was dismal; it was like a really risky game of don’t-die-in-a-mineshaft-and-try-not-to-catch-gangrene. Everything was unfinished, dirty, and seemed to lack organization. Nevertheless, we made it to our destination and were treated to some gorgeous views.
I knew Brussels was popular for beer, chocolate, and waffles but had no clue there would be so many shops dedicated to those things. There were so many options that it got a bit overwhelming but La Belgique Gourmande lured us in with free samples and then it was all over. We bought some chocolates as well as Belgian noses or “neuzekes” which Jason loved. They’re sort of a jelly candy with a semi-crispy outside and gooey inside. There were tons of flavors to choose from so we grabbed an assortment before heading on to Grand Place.
The architecture was stunning and I loved the gold accents against the dark stone. The detail on each building was just incredible; it’s hard to imagine the amount of time and effort that went into creating these buildings.
As we were about to move on, Jason started acting really strange and mentioned to me that there was a large group of tourists staring and pointing at Lena. An older Asian man came over and we finally figured out he wanted a picture with the Bacon Bit. A friend had told me that while living in Japan, the locals would practically mob her anytime she went out in public with her blonde haired, blue-eyed daughter. So when I realized that was the case here, I found it absolutely hysterical and took a picture of Lena and her new buddy. This was probably the highlight of my day as it was so random; Lena was unamused as usual.
Since we were fairly close, we also decided to go see the infamous Manneken Pis or Peeing Boy (please excuse my pregnant belly). I’m not entirely sure what the allure is, but replicas of this little tinkler are all over the city. Lena was confused about what he was holding in his hand which I found hilarious. And anytime we’d pass another souvenir shop, she had to check out her new little friend in the window. In other words, it took us triple the time of a normal person to get anywhere thanks to our little window shopper.
After some french fries (another Belgian claim to fame), we started back toward the subway station. But first, Jason treated himself to some Leffe while Lena and I shared a waffle with Nutella and strawberries. We figured after walking all day, we deserved a treat.
After one quick photo session and a meet and greet with the local pigeons, we called it a day. I’m really glad we visited Brussels as it had some beautiful buildings and delicious treats but one day was plenty for us to explore. It was such a short drive from England as well that it made for a perfect day trip and it’s likely a place we would never have visited otherwise.