After a rough night’s sleep in a lovely but lonely new apartment, I awoke to a brand new day in the charming city of Brussels. I threw my curtains wide and promptly realized that my cross-courtyard neighbors can easily see into my flat. I also quickly realized that my heat isn’t working. At least the weather is milder here than in Chicago. The temperature is more like 5C (40F) rather than -5C (23F). While I await heater repairs, I’ve been bundling up in a sweatshirt (apparently blankets are not included in fully furnished apartments) and letting my laptop keep me warm while home. That being said, I haven’t spent all that much time at home. A kind colleague (Eveline) greeted me this morning with a lovely gift basket full of Belgian goodies, including chocolate, sweets and a Lambic (Sour fruity beer that Belgian is famous for brewing). I’ve also acquired a few other gems that I am looking forward to trying. Believe me it wasn’t easy. I’m not sure how many of my readers (all ten of you) have ever grocery shopped in a foreign market where you don’t speak the language, but was I ever in over my head. I am thankful Eveline saved me from forgetting to preweigh my produce prior to arriving at the checkout counter and explaining to me why the milk is stored and sold at room temperature. My high school French class prepared me for identifying farm animals and buying a movie ticket at the theater, I was not prepared to decipher the different types of butter and eggs presented to Belgian consumers at the local Carrefour supermarket (I’d compare it to a Super Target). I DID learn that Duvel, Chimay, Hoegarden and Leffe (pronounced LEF my American friends) are grocery store staples that you can find at nearly every convenience store. I picked up a small variety of Belgian beers that were sold for around 1 Euro a piece. I don’t always drink beer, but when I do, I prefer that it be damn good.
After my harrowing adventures at the grocers, I found the time to visit some of Brussels old areas that are full of old gorgeous architecture and narrow cobbled streets. I even saw a statue of a peeing boy, which everyone assures me is very famous. It is truly called Manneken Pis. At the very least, there was a gaggle of tourists snapping photos of it, so I went ahead and grabbed one too, enjoy!
The Sablon area has some lovely buildings and cathedrals I couldn’t stop staring at. There is just nothing so old in the USA, it is rather humbling to be near these edifices that have stood for centuries. The local Town Hall isn’t just a functional building, it is a true work of art. I need to report my presence there within eight days of arriving in Brussels, but it feels strange to havemundane business to attend to at this local work of art. (see below)
All this wandering around left me hungry, and I did indulge in a street waffle. Yes, this waffle happened to be covered in strawberries and Nutella and yes, it happened to be delicious. I discovered the train station that I will go to tomorrow to get to work, I even bought my ticket and picked my train in advance to avoid a busy foreign language confusion in the morning. After a hard day turisting, I enjoyed a hearty dinner of chicken nuggets and Kwak. I should eat better tomorrow, Belgium isn’t short on good food.
Wish me luck at my first day of work!