Notes From Brussels

  • Turns out, they speak French here

Yeah.  I don’t know why I was so sure they would be speaking German, but I blame the similarity between Belgian and German flags.  I mean, if you’re going to essentially cut and paste a flag, you would think the languages would match.

I mean, seriously, look at those.

  • There’s a suspiciously large amount of sand on the streets and sidewalks throughout Brussels.

I don’t know why this is.  So far the leading candidates are :

– They are attempting to set a world record for Largest Urban Sandbox, and I just caught them early in the process.

– Brussels is actually terrorized by giant cats that roam the streets at night, and these piles are the remnants of their shoddy litter box habits.

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  • They seem to be cool with graffiti

Along one of the public transit tram lines is a mile-long stretch of awesome graffiti.  Judging by the tags with dates [2008, etc] it doesn’t seem that The Man is in any hurry to delete it.  And that’s a good thing.

  • They have a Chi-Chi’s here.

Poor EZ lost all input in where we would be going to dinner the second I saw that sign.  I mean, I’ve mourned their demise for a decade.  I had to go back.  Minor disappointment – no corn cake on the menu.  Really, the whole menu is kind of a clumsy Tex-Mex assortment as seen by someone who has been to neither Texas nor Mexico, but still, it was worth the visit.  Oh, and they did have fried ice cream.  So that’s a win.

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EZ can’t wait.

Fun fact : Chi-Chi’s in the USA disappeared mainly because of a massive Hepatitis A outbreak at a Pittsburgh location.  Way to fuck it up, Pittsburgh.

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  • The Atomium is….meh.

In fairness, three of the eight “levels” were closed due to updating exhibits, but unless said exhibits are going to be “Flying Sharks” and “The History of Outstanding Genitalia”, the whole experience would still disappoint slightly.  The view from the top is nice, but that is by far the most interesting aspect of the attraction, and it only keeps your interest for about five minutes.  As an architectural piece, it is worth the visit.  Just don’t expect much to see inside that will titillate.

  • …but it does contain what I am pretty sure is the first escalator designed to give you a seizure.
  • Brusseleers consume their soda in extremely small amounts.

Admittedly, I’m coming from an American perspective where the refills are free and plentiful, and we believe that 64oz is a perfectly acceptable beverage size.  Every trip to Europe forces me to ration my Coke intake¹, as not only are the refills no longer free but each bottle is over five bucks.  But in Brussels, they’re just fucking ridiculous with it.  On every single occasion, and this is five restaurants from pseudo-nice to greasy spoon, the Coke Light was served in 200ml bottles.  For those of us Stateside, that’s under seven ounces.   Seven.  For your next meal, take a can of Coke, pour half of it in a glass, and try to make that sonofabitch last the whole meal.  It’s not easy.

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¹ the beverage, not the illicit powdered substance.  I maintain that regiment regardless of locale.

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