Monday, March 22, 2010

Spring Break Part 1: Brussels, Belgium

My spring break officially began on Friday and Anna and I boarded our flight to Brussels.  We both fell asleep immediately and therefore were only awake for about 20 min of the ride.  That's my kind of flight. After getting off the plane we hopped a train to the center of town.  Nancy Koeppel met us at the train station and we took a tram over to her flat.  We stayed at the Koeppels for the weekend and they were the best hosts a couple of girls could ask for.  After settling in to our guestroom and getting plane stink off of us we headed out for lunch.  I had the most amazing chocolate truffle thing ever for desert. SO GOOD. And only the start of the amazing culinary experience Brussels would prove to become.  After a lengthy getting-to-know-one-another lunch convo we headed back and with Nancy's help tried to organize our France trip a bit.  Then we headed to a wine bar with Nancy and had a really good glass of Chianti.   Yum.  A girl so so get used to this.  After a drink we headed to a really nice Italian restaurant where Jeff Koeppel, former neighbor of Granny and Pupup's, met us.  We had sparkling water and white beer and red wine again.  So good.  There was a HUGE plate of antipasta and the best tortellini I've ever had in my life.  We were so well taken care of on this trip it's not even funny.  After dinner, Anna and I headed to a jazz bar and the Koeppels called it a night.  The music was great and I've never seen that many white boys with dread locks in my life! We didn't stay long due to very little sleep the night before.  A very good introduction to Brussels.

On Saturday Annna and I had the day to explore. I bought my train tickets from Nice to Florence, which was a big relief to get done.  We walked all over town.  We saw the grand place (plaza), the royal palace, and the inside of countless chocolate shops.  And then Anna and I decided to indulge in some local treats.  For lunch we got Belgium frites (french fries).  Apparently they are cooked twice or something which makes them utterly delicious (and artery clogging).  And for desert we had Belgium waffles which are considered desert here.  I had mine covered with ice cream and choclate syrup.  Anna had one covered in fruit sauce.  Again another culinary success! We then went to the Musical Instrument Museum which was really really cool. They give you headphones and then every time you approach a display of instruments music plays that could have been made by the instruments you are looking at.  A multi-senses experience and totally unique.  After a full day of exploring we headed back to chill.  Then we went in search of dinner.  We found a really cute pizza lace and split a pizza and some red wine.  We had a long and luxurious meal and walked about the neighborhood for a bit.  We called it an early night and headed back to the Koeppel's flat. 

On Sunday we got up and went out to brunch with the whole Koeppel crew at this place called the Milkbar.  iT had this crazy 50s diner feel including bright pink walls and a Marilyn Monroe statue.  I ordered pancakes, real fluffy pancakes! My first in 9 weeks! YUM.  Mr. Koeppel insisted that it was not to early to have a milkshake, so with his encouragement we got milkshakes for brunch.  Again, SO GOOD.  We had a really pleasant time continuing to get to know this generous and lovely family.  After brunch, Anna and I packed and headed to a coffee shop.  I attempted to write a blog but shotty internet killed it.  By the time we got back, we said our goodbyes.  The Koeppels had a car drive us to the airport and we headed off to Nice, where I'm currently sitting in the coolest hostel ever typing this.

Some things to know about Belgium:

1. They speak Flemish and French.  Brussels is considered a bilingual city and have both languages everywhere. It turns out that the little high school French I remember is actually coming in handy big time.  I had no idea I would remember so much.  But it certainly helps when ordering at a restaurant.

2.  They are seriously understaffed everywhere.  If you're looking for a job come to Belgium.  Anna and I witnessed on more than one occasion a very stressed solo worker in a restaurant packed with people.  These guys work hard!

3. There's a definite grunge style going on here.  All of the young people we saw had an early 90s America grunge vibe going on.  I kind of dig it. 

4.  The architecture is beautiful! And totally unlike anything I've seen before. 

I thought of many other things to add to this list over the weekend but now can't seem to remember them.  I'll add them as they come.  Brussels was a great experience.  We had the most wonderful hosts and I cannot thank the Koeppels enough for letting us stay for them, treating us to dinner, and generally letting us encroach on their live for a bit.  So so wonderful. Such a great way to start spring break!

Also, I recieved some wonderful news over the weekend.  My best friend since the third grade, Beth, got engaged to her boyfirend of 6 years Mike! I'm so excited for them and for those who know them you have to get Beth to tell you the proposal story, so cute! So congratulations to Beth! I love you so much!

France updates to come.

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