Karie on Mar 10th 2008 07:38 pm
A while back we watched a Travel Channel special on Brussels that really peaked my interest. Brussels is referred to as the Capital of Europe, being home to the European Union headquarters. Its country also stakes claim to the best waffles, chocolate, and beer, and swears that they invented the french fry. Some might argue that this tiny country has made more significant contributions to modern society than any other. Seriously, we could all live without the space program, but without waffles there would be no holes to keep the whip cream, juicy strawberries or softened peanut butter from sliding off your fried batter. The world would be flat – pancake flat… and my mom made terrible pancakes. (it’s ok, she’s a great cook otherwise, and she even laughs at herself once a decade when she tries them again.)
The most common scent in Brussels was sugar. I guess with that much goodness going around, it’s hard to be uptight. We found the locals to be very friendly, and never taking themselves too seriously. As one local put it, “Paris has the Eiffel Tower, New York has the Empire State Building, and we have Manneken Pis” – a famous statue of a small boy relieving himself. We later found a less famous female version along the same lines, the Jeanneke Pis.
Brussels is also the birthplace of the comic strip. Tintin is Belgian, as are the Smurfs, and many others you would recognize. We visited the comic museum one day, and while we intended to also find the many comic murals painted on the sides of buildings throughout the city, we only stumbled across one.
The main square, Grand Place, is said to be the most beautiful square in all of Europe. While it was difficult to get the full effect with the huge tent they were constructing in the center for some type of special event, we did find it pretty spectacular. Every single building that lined the square was beautiful and unique. Despite the lingering winter chill, flowers were also in bloom throughout the city, which added to its charm.
We had 2 full days in Brussels, which most people would agree is enough for such a small town. However, I think we could have easily filled up a 3rd day of entertainment. There is a “Mini Europe” on the outskirts of the city, with knee-high replicas of all the famous sights in Europe. I was already envisioning the sequel, “Honey, I Blew Up the Kaufmanns”, until we learned that the park was closed for a few weeks.
Despite all the wonderful things that the Travel Channel had to say about Brussels (which were all true), we (ok, I) came to Belgium in search of waffles, chocolate, and waffles covered in chocolate. My mission was to find the best in town, but sadly, I left defeated. I certainly wasn’t disappointed in anything I tasted, but inevitably, I saw someone walking by with a waffle that looked better than mine, and I was never able to locate the source of that vision… the grass is always greener. So we departed from Brussels with a challenge for the future. Some day, we shall return to complete Opertaion Waffle, and conquer the other giants (tourists) to reign over Mini Europe! Some day…