On Friday night, I found myself very hungry. Very hungry and very bored of my small meals I can prepare in my apartment. The bread mean and cheese here is really a step above what I’m used to back home, but even still I am bored of belgian sammiches. Given my hunger, I forced myself to go out to dinner alone in Brussels on Friday night. I decided to bring my 3DS and look for a casual bar. When I travel alone for work, I like to find the corner of a comfortable bar and cozy up with some electronic
entertainment and hang out for a while. For some reason, this feels more adventurous than doing the same thing in my hotel room and I’m not sure why. I locate a likely looking candiate, Cafe Leffe which is a short walk from my apartment. Leffe is a very very common Belgian ale. It’s the type of beer that you can find in cans and bottle 12 packs at the local grocers. It is also delicious.
When I get into the place, I realize I have misjudged it. Instead of a rough hewn table in the corner of a dark bar, I find myself sitting at a table with a white tablecloth surrounded by wealthy tourists. I quietly lament the 3DS in my bag that can’t come out and play, but I resolve to enjoy my time there anyway. The meals were around 18-23 euros, which is about 24 USD. I’m already committed so I might as well enjoy myself. I order the duck with apple brandy sauce.
While I wait, my waitress slices up some bread at the baguette station located right next to my table. The bread is something else. An extremely fresh slice of frech Belgian bread is exquisite. I ended up using it to mop up any spare apple brandy sauce that came on my duck. While the duck was fine, the sauce it was set in stole the show. I furtively hid all my uneaten bread in my purse for later. I ended up burning it in my toaster oven the following morning, which left me rather depressed.
On Saturday night, I went out to a party at the house of a friend of a friend. It was a party/private concert. A couple of touring minor musicians were invited to play for an audience of about 30-40 people in an apartment in downtown Brussels. It was difficult for me to find the courage to go to a party where I only knew one person and everyone was native French speakers, but I gathered together stray bits of social bravery and headed out. The home I was invited into was an elegantly decorated old studio apartment with a vaulted ceiling. All the attendees were dressed very stylishly and there were candles scattered all over the apartment. When it comes to house parties, apparently the same drinking sensibilities reign no matter the country. The kitchen was stocked with rum and coke, vodka and orange juice and a local cheap beer that I thought tasted like a light pilsner. It really was the belgian equivalent of Bud Light! I guess some things never change no matter where you are.
The artists that played at the house were guitar + single singer setups. Sarah Carlier (http://
The second artist was a man from the UK (ttp://
I was at first very nervous about being around so many French speakers chatting around me in rapid French that I could not follow, but eventually after a drink and spending some time there I found some very nice people that spoke to me in English. We shared some fun stories about work and travel and I enjoyed myself.
I finished out my weekend by trying to do some laundry and going to the supermarket. The store I found on Anspach the other day is actually open on Sundays and is quite large despite being cramped. I was happy to stock up on cereal meat and cheese. The laundry was less successful, I found out the washing machine is front loader and I had bought regular detergent. After I bought a front loader liquid replacement, I found out that ALL Belgian washing machines are font load. So now I have two sets of detergent for my four month stay. I suppose I’ll never run out. Sunday also afforded me the chance to spend some time hanging out with Rob on Skype, which was a weekend highlight that left me feeling like my weekend was successful.
Chimay Blanche – Delicious and unfiltered goodness.
Juniper – Cheap pilsner. Sort of nostalgic as it tastes like a strong Bud Light.