Brussels, Belgium

Ah the Capitol of Belgium, the Capitol of Flanders, and the Capitol of the EU. Call me a nerd, but visiting the EU parliament was probably the highlight of my sightseeing in Brussels.

The EU Parliament, where countries of Europe come together to resolve conflict and promote human rights
The EU Parliament, where countries of Europe come together to resolve conflict and promote human rights

I stayed with another Couchsurfer, a French speaking guy who happened to live right near the train station. We dropped my stuff off at his place and went out to see some of Brussels and hit up some bars.

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We walked to the Grand Place, deemed by Karl Marx to be the most beautiful square in the world. Many of the buildings surrounding the square were old union buildings for the archers and bakers and beer makers. Coated with gold accents, the square shimmers both during the day and the night.

This image depicts the largest building in the city center from a day and night perspective.

We went to the Delirium cafe, a bar that serves approximately 3160 different kinds of beers, none of them from the US. The catalogue of beer is about as big as a magazine and we each opened a random page and pointed to a beer. In Belgium, you are never to get the same beer twice. If I’m with someone else or a group, I like when everyone gets a different beer and we all have a little taste. It’s a good way to sample lots of beers.

He also took me to an absinthe bar, yes that legendary alcohol that is supposed to make you hallucinate. That is a pure myth, you would get alcohol poisoning before you started to see things. Absinthe can be a very high alcohol concentration, so we melted sugar cubes in our drinks and added water. If you like licorice, then lucky you because that is what absinthe tastes a bit like. There is this gum in Europe called “Stimoral” and I am obsessed with and absinthe just about tastes like that gum flavor in liquid form.

Absinthe with water and sugar cubes

finally tried mussels. They are eaten all over Belgium and I’m not the biggest seafood fan, so I was apprehensive to try them. I got the courage and the will to eat them, and they turned out to be really good! Definitely get the chance to eat mussels if you’re in Belgium during the summertime, just make sure you don’t pay too much. We went to Garden Express I believe, not too fancy, but only 13 Euro for mussels and a side.

Mussel meal with my host
Mussel meal with my host

The biggest difference between Brussels and the rest of Belgium (the Flanders region at least) is the hills. Brussels is hardly ever flat and is also full of cobblestone, so riding a bike is difficult. The bike-sharing “Villo!” bikes are heavy too. Pedaling up a hill left me breathless and I would end up putting my bike back in a station and walking the hill. If you want to bike, rent a lightweight one!

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