Brussels Day 2. Culture and well, more beer.

After a rather short night sleep (jet lag and time change have taken their toll) I enjoyed a hearty breakfast, numerous cups of coffee followed by a short morning nap. I simply returned to my room to gather my belongings but was attacked by the bed. Refreshed, I ventured forth.

The nap worked perfectly as I arrived back in the Grand Place just a few minutes before the beer festival pay stations opened. Within minutes I was stocked up on beer tokens for the finale day of the festival.

Since my next stop was the ancient art museum, it seemed that a beer or two would be just the thing to get me going. One lovely white beer and a deliciously fruity raspberry beer and I was ready to take on Rubens.

One thing about Brussels is that the major sights are relatively compact. It’s easy to overshoot your destination, but just as easy to backtrack.

I finally found the Royal Museum of Fine Arts of Belgium. My Rick Steves guidebook, either didn’t direct me to the modern museum correctly or it’s no longer covered under one ticket, however the ancient museum was wonderful. From Rogier van der Wyden, Brueghel, numerous Rubens and my favorite, Jacques-Louis David, “The Death of Marat” the museum was a treat.

Normally, I’m a big fan of the Rick Steves guidebooks and thoroughly enjoy all the city walks. This time however I called it short on the Upper Town walk. I did enjoy the Notre-Dame du Sablon Church with it’s amazing stained glass, but basically skipped the remainder of the walk by enjoying a late lunch at a sidewalk cafe.

Since I had no clue what the waiter explained the soup of the day was, I decided to order it anyway. Fingers crossed, he delivered a rich creamy orange tinted soup with chopped chives floating delicately on top. Accompanied by bread, butter and a lovely Alsatian white wine, I was ready to dive in and enjoy some time off my feet.

The soup turned out to be a delicious creamy carrot concoction. Wonderful and perfect with the wine. This was followed by cheese croquettes served with fried parsley. Very rich but delicious.

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Did I mention getting off my feet? Brussels is pretty much all cobblestones. Everywhere. While my shoes are comfortable, cobblestones are an entirely different animal. I think I’ll pop into the Geoxx store behind the Grand Place soon.

After lunch, I wound my way past gourmet chocolate shops (9 euro a bar) down to the infamous Mannequin Pis. It’s amazing that this gathers so much attention. After admiring for the obligatory few seconds it was time to return to the beer festival!

The crowds were certainly there as well, I arrived just a few minutes before they closed the pay stations but still about 2 hours left to enjoy the beers. And enjoy them I did! Well, at least two of them before I ran out of tickets again. One lovely fruit beer and a fabulous one from a brewery just outside of Brussels. If I had time, I’d do a day trip there. So much to see and do!

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After the beer it seemed like mussels would be a good dinner to wrap up Sunday. Nothing like a giant pot of mussels steamed with white wine and cream sauce served with french fries and mayonnaise. By the way, the fries are absolutely wonderful!

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I wrapped up the evening with a few chocolates picked up on the way to my hotel (more on Belgium chocolates later).

Tomorrow, I think I’ll take a day trip to Ghent.

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