Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Brussels - Day 4

Another day, another breakfast - 9am again and variety strikes...again. This time we have a strawberry yoghurt with strawberry jam - along with a pain au chocolate and piece of baguette. Oh, I also get two capsules of milk, that means I can have a full cup of coffee!

Over breakfast there's an interesting chat with Marc - tourism wise, the city is dead, numbers plummeting - seems that Americans and Japanese don't come to Brussels anymore - the Americans after 9/11, the Japanese because of a virus (I'm not too sure which one he means). He also said that the Americans that do come, spend all their time apologising and head tilting... "don't hate us we didn't vote for him." Good grief, seriously they let anyone travel these days.

I had asked this morning about the festival but both Marc and Theo were clueless and on hearing about it from myself and another guest would be going out to check it out. They did tell me that next week is the Asterix festival - seems that they will be recreating the Asterix village. Sounds interesting and possibly worth checking out.

On the agenda today I've really only got two things planned - go back to the Grote Markt and have a look at the festivities and then travel to see the Belgian Centre of Comic Strip Art (it's housed in the former Waucquez Warehouse designed by Victor Horta - you know, the father of Art Nouveau).

Taking a different route to the market it quickly dawns upon me that there are an extraordinary amount of bicycles on the road - in fact that's all that I can see on the roads. Seems that this Sunday is also Brussels no-car Sunday - car's aren't allowed into the city - buses and taxis are exempted.

When I get to the markt, cyclists are everywhere, doing circuits of the plaza - so many wrinkly bodies in skin tight lycra (can I pull my eyes out now?)


I think I worked out what those giant mannequins were for - they each represent a different fraternity or guild and today they are parked in front of their respective stalls.

DSC00942.JPG DSC00937.JPG
"Ordre de la Griotte de Schaerbeek" they use the griotte (a morello cherry) and produce among other things, a cherry liqueur. It may be mid morning but it's late enough to try it. Inside the glass you can also see two cherries. The cherries just dissolved in the mouth, their flesh plumbed with liqueur. Certainly peps one up.

Offered by "Les Compagnons du Witloof d'Evere" this is witlof wine and liqueur - unfortunately I was still on the cherry liqueur and somehow just didn't around to having a taste. Shame on me.

I did manage to try out the Spanish tasting plate which consisted of tiny Spanish olives, a glass of Spanish red wine, Spanish salami, potato tortilla, a slice baguette that was rubbed with fresh tomato served with an anchovy and another slice of baguette with jamon. An excellent introduction to Spanish produce.

DSC00946.JPG DSC00947.JPG
"Ordre du Bloempanch" Not everything was appetising. Another stall I bypassed was the one offering Bloempanch (Paalo I know would have tried this). The Bloempanch was served with a special mustard and crusty bread. Umm, what's Bloempanch you ask? Well, it's a large blood sausage speckled with chucks of bacon fat.

DSC_2482.JPG DSC01054.JPG
This is the stall for Delirium Tremens (insert your own joke about the DT's and pink elephants) - of interest they offered an apple and a cherry beer. I usually avoid beer but later in the day I did return and tried the apple beer. For a person that hates beer, it wasn't bad. It didn't have that beer smell, was very refreshing and easy to drink, but it definitely has a kick. At 9% you could get yourself into trouble very easily.

DSC_2486.JPG DSC_2488.JPG
Quite a few stalls were offering freshly stewed snails.

DSC_2492.JPG DSC_2489.JPG

DSC_2491.JPG DSC_2496.JPG
This had to be my favourite stall - filled with Portuguese delights and I did sample a few items but I did so only for the benefit of this blog.

DSC00950.JPG DSC_2497.JPG
Croquette, on the left; Chamuca, on the right - this is filled with a spicy chicken curry mix.

DSC01090.JPG DSC01052.JPG
Pastel Bacalahau, on the left, Empada Galinha (chicken pastry)

I really didn't want to see what this stall offered. If Mannekin-Pis is serving, I'm abstaining.

Having thoroughly enjoyed myself I decided to take a leisurely stroll to the Comic Strip Museum.

DSC_2523.JPG DSC_2528.JPG DSC_2529.JPG
There's an area near the Grote Markt that you'd call restaurant road - every storefront is a restaurant. They were still in preparation mode setting up the tables and seafood displays for the days trade. Each restaurant have boards offering various fixed priced menus.

DSC_2532.JPG DSC_2535.JPG
If food isn't something you're after, the restaurants seem to surround the shopping mall Galeries Saint-Hubert. Though being a Sunday, the stores are shut! How progressive.

I managed to get slightly lost but did come across an interesting church - Notre-Dame du Finistère.
DSC_2583.JPG DSC_2543.JPG

It's in a baroque style and was started in 1708. Unfortunately one of the church members ran away with the money and building ceased. Eventually the church was finished in 1730.

If you'd like to see more photos just click on the link Notre-Dame du Finistère Set

When I finally did arrive at the Comic Strip Museum it was a slight disappointment. The building was attractive however the area isn't. The neighbouring buildings have been knocked down, the one opposite is boarded up and it just sticks out like a sore thumb in this depressed area. After visiting one display on the ground floor and finding it slightly dull I decided to try the Brasserie Horta, located within the museum.

It's here that I was served a most unusual "capuccino" - the froth is actually whipped cream. It was nice but it's not a capuccino.

After spending some time in the museum's bookstore (they do have an extensive range of comic books and comic strip art) I called it quits and headed back to the Grote Markt (to taste that apple beer and enjoy a couple more Portuguese treats).

That pretty much covers my four days in Brussels. Tomorrow morning I have to get to Brussels Central Station to catch the train to Amsterdam.

What do I think of Brussels? I would definitely come back and stay at the B&B but get the room on the first floor. Position wise it is perfect - the rooms are lovely, the owners are friendly. It just has a great vibe. There are a few things I didn't manage to see that I would like to. But I would probably use it as a base to visit some of the other cities of Belgium such as Ghent and Bruges. The Grote Markt is unlike anything I've ever seen before and worth a visit. Now if only they could do something about that wee...

If you'd like to see more photos from from my time in Brussels click on the appropriate link
Brussels Festival Set
Brussels in General
Grote Markt

1 comment:

  1. how decadent. If i were in belgium with you guys, i'd take the yummy looking coffee(in the pic) as well as yogurt and the pain au choc that you described. and of course, the cherry brandy.
    that makes the oatmeal i am *about* to have seem a lot less appealing.


We appreciate your comments however spam, abusive or libelous comments will be removed.