Day 40: Saturday November 19th, 2011
I met Mary Anne and Mariam at Mokafe (that’s a lot of M’s), an old Grandma sponsored place famed for its waffles with chocolate. Naturally, Mariam had a salami sandwich. But the joke was on Mary Anne and I, since the waffle was good, but not great, not soft and fluffy, and not in any way filling.
Then we went to visit the Manneken Pis, the peeing boy, a Brussels landmark that goes a long way in capturing the city’s vibe, personality and nightlife. From a murky past that includes an arrest for public urination, it was inspiring to me.
We split up to meet again later, because I wanted to go to the Belgian Comic Strip Center and they predictably didn’t. Belgium is home to some of Europe’s finest comic strip writers, like Herge, who created TinTin, Marc Sleen (Nero), Bob de Moor and other people I’ve never heard of but are kind of a big deal. Other Belgian titles you may have heard of: Smurfs, Lucky Luke and Spirou. It had galleries that spanned the entire 20th century, several exhibits spotlighting the kind of history I can get behind, and a sweet gift shop. But, it’s all in French. Duh, but even if it’s cool, you can only stare at cartoon-y art for so long. Unless you’re a big comic guy like me, it’s a pretty easy skip.
We were told, rather than splurge on the many fine Belgian chocolateries in the city, to scour a market and delight in the savings, so that’s what we did. It wasn’t a huge success, but the massive amount of chocolate proved to be a good snack throughout the next week. I got Cote d’Or, one of the few I could find that was definitively Belgian. We tried our different kinds up on top of a huge parking complex that gives you a great view of the city and of Atomium, another landmark of Brussels (it’s just a giant Atom, but is pretty neat, and I mean neat as a soft compliment).
From there, we (I) returned to Delirium to delight in its many hopped pleasures. M + M were off to Bruges just after, where I would meet them the next day. So I had the night to myself.
I went to Mr. Falafel, where I had my first ever falafel. Four euros for a pocket packed with fried balls and then a bar with all sorts of goodies to fold into it, and you can do it an unlimited number of times? How did I not know about this? I suppose because it doesn’t involve meat I always avoided it, but it was one of the only times I’ve pigged out on veggies, hummus and the like and been happy about it. Fucking great, especially for a body lacking veggies and surviving on beer and a chocolate waffle throughout the day.
I was tired and antisocial, so I went to the market, got 7 different Belgian beers and two bananas for like 8 euro total (Belgium rules) and had one of my favorite nights of travelling so far. I talked online with people and…drank. I got a Kriek (an okay cherry beer that was 8.5%), Jupiler (crap), a Chimay that wasn’t red or blue (the amazing trappist beer; to be an authentic trappist beer it has to be brewed in a trappist abbey by monks. Monks know what they’re doing), a peach lambic (pretty tasty), a crappy store brand beer to class everything else up, a Faro (another lambic that had a cork surprisingly, my Turkish roommate opened it by slamming it against the wall, predictably spraying the beer all over the place, in my shoes and on my net book. Plus the beer smelled like shit) and a Jefe.
It was too much, and so was all that information, but I topped it off by going to see The Adventures of TinTin, my first movie overseas and a perfect Brussels choice. Plus, it was in English (with French subtitles). Maybe it was because it’d been awhile since I’d seen a movie and due to the perfect circumstances, but I loved it; a delightful, comfortable, home-y Young Indiana Jones film experience and I didn’t even recognize Daniel Craig’s voice as the villain. I really needed to pee but somehow managed to hold it the entire movie, and that didn’t even subtract from my enjoyment.
Add TinTin to my future reading list and add Brussels to my favorite city list.
Next: In Bruges.