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Erasmus Shenanigans "Not all those who wander are lost"

Mussels in Brussels!

BELGIUM | Monday, 30 January 2017 | Views [493] | Comments [3]

Brussels (28th - 30th Dec 2016)

When I was in Year 5, there was an interschool competition to create the most persuasive holiday advertisement. You could pick any country and I had picked Belgium. I chose multi-coloured Word Art for the heading and placed pictures at the end of every sentence. I remember being very happy with the finished product and then later on, very sad that I didn't win. Back then, Belgium was a far away, foreign land in my head that was only famous for its chocolate. 9 whole years later I found myself standing in Grand Square, Brussels, thinking back to little 10 year old me. I wish I could have told myself that I would win an even bigger prize: the opportunity to visit this country with the best chocolates in the world! 

Okay, there's much more to Belgium than just chocolate. The main headquarters of the European Union is in Brussels. You know, the place that could potentially help solve the current refugee crisis but isn't doing much about it. This is one of the first things that hit you when you enter Belgium. We hadn't even reached Brussels main station, when on the train a young women passed around orange notes written in French. With my very basic French skills, I understood the jist of the note, which was a plea for money because the shelters were full and they needed to eat. That first day in Brussels we got asked for money at least thrice and I felt more angry than sympathetic for some strange reason. I think I was just surprised to see similar conditions to India in a Western European country and I didn't know how to react. This nibbled at the back of my mind during my whole stay here. 

Moving on to the fun parts, on the walk to Meininger hostel we pretty much passed most of the famous attractions. During the day these huge buildings were amazing, but at night they turned into the most dazzling sights. My favourite areas were Grand Square and Brussels Town Hall. I had never seen any buildings lit up so breath-takingly beautiful before. On the first night, we wandered around the busiest Christmas market. Lucky Gleicy found a Brazilian food stall that made her day, week and past few months for that matterI can't say I got a little jealous imagining Masala Dosas and Vadas. Anyway, Brussels was very multicultural this way. I spotted a Godiva chocolate store and introduced Gleicy to its heavenly chocolate selection. However, we were on the hunt for authentic Belgian waffles. We drifted away from Grand Place and started to follow the signs for Mannequin Pis, appropriately named because it's a boy shaped-fountain that looks like it's pissing. It is traditional for foreign ambassadors to buy the little boy a new costume when they visit Brussels and so there is a shop that contains over 300 outfits just for the statue. I heard that Mannequin Pis is number one on the list of most disappointing attractions in a city. I think the Leaning Tower of Pisa should be the first. 

We found a €2 waffle shop and ordered one chocolate and one Nutella waffle. The flimsy plastic forks did not help our urge to stuff the whole waffle in our mouths so we started eating it Indian style. When I was done, Gleicy told me I had chocolate all over my mouth and chin. Oddly enough, I decided to get a savory item right after the sweet waffle. We'd walked around the food stalls thrice before I finally decided to pay €10 for a plate of mussels. I don't think I've ever eaten fresh mussels from a food stall before and I was slightly apprehensive. However, I was pleasantly surprised, as they didn't taste as salty or fishy as I thought. Yes, for the hundredth time, I had mussels in Brussels.  Our time in Brussels had so far been more of a food journey than a visual one. I couldn't complain about that one bit! 

On the evening of the second day I went to see the Parlamentarium. It's the free visitor's centre in the EU headquarters. I was really impressed by it and I spent over 1 and a half hours in there reading about how and when each member joined the EU until it was closing time. It even had huge rooms mimicking the actual headquarter offices and these globes you could push across an electronic floor map to read more information about a city.  On the way back from the Parlamentarium, I crossed the square with the Town Hall and wondered why there was a massive crowd. That was when I realized there was a sound and light show happening, the buildings around the square flashing in time with a song being played on loudspeaker. It was totally exhilarating! I felt sad that Gleicy was missing out and I later found out she was very sick and resting in bed. Anyway, after I left that Square I decided to grab a quick hot dog (nothing compared to the German bratwurst) in Grand Place. As I sat alone on the steps of The Museum of the City of Brussels eating my hot dog, a guy sat next to me and said 'Ça Va?'. I still internally kick myself for not practicing my Year 6 French and replying 'Ça va tres bien, merci. Et toi?'. Instead, I boringly replied ' I don't speak French, sorry' and the conversation continued awkwardly (me spilling hot dog filling on myself, him struggling to speak English) from there. Duh! 

Since our time in Belgium was limited, we did not have time to see the Atomium. It's a museum shaped like the atomic structure of a crystal and I would recommend seeing it simply because of its uniqueness. We had a short and sweet stay in the 'Capital of Europe', accordingly planned because we'd heard there wasn't too much to do in Brussels. However, I disagree. Brussels has a wonderfully rich atmosphere and a lot to see if you decide to stay a little longer. I would definitely be open to another visit during which I'd travel to Luxembourg (2 hours by train) to tick another country off the list and surrounding cities, which look really beautiful. And I would arrange all these travel plans to be during summer!

Mannequin Pis

Mannequin Pis

Tags: brussels, mannequin pis

 

Comments

1

very interesting writing dear ! :)

  poongothai Jan 25, 2017 8:17 PM

2

Very nice, well written account...mussels 😂😂

  Senthil Kumar Jan 27, 2017 4:56 PM

3

Good to know i'm not the only one who thought mannequin pis was weird :) also, "mussels in brussels" haha

  Narmada Feb 5, 2017 4:34 PM

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