Thursday, December 27, 2012

Brioni European Vacation - Brussels

Hello Everybody! Welcome to the last installment of the Brioni European vacation. Our last and final stop on our tour was Brussels, Belguim. With only a day and a half, we left our itinerary light, and just took in all the sights and food of the city.

As soon as our train arrived in Brussels, we took our cab to our hotel, Brussels Aloft Shuman. If you have never stayed at an Aloft before, I highly recommend it. The price was very reasonable, the rooms were sleek and modern with a ton of amenities (e.g.: free wifi, American tv channels, Bliss brand soaps and shampoos, etc.).

Our hotel was located in the neighborhood of Jourdan, which is on the outskirts of Brussels. Although it was raining, we went on foot to explore the surrounding areas, in search of some grub. We had lunch at a doner kabob place. I learned in Europe (since we also had doner in England) that doner is basically meat in a wrap.  Gyros and shawarma fall in that same category :)

Dinner is what really knocked our socks off. We ate at L'esprit de Sel Brasserie and we were not disappointed! I started my meal off with a delicious Kriek (cherry beer). The beers in Belgium are tasty and strong!

Justin had a pot full of mussels, which were both flavorful and aromatic. The broth was to die for!

After dinner, we went bar hopping at the various bars in the neighborhood and continued to indulge in the tasty brews of Belgium. Toward the end of the night we spotted, Maison Antione, a world famous frites (fries) place. Although we ate a ton of fried potatoes on our European trip, we couldn't pass up the chance to eat some authentic Belgian frites (with dipping sauces galore!).

Here is a sign that several bars in the area had posted outside of their establishments. This sign means that they are "frite-friendly" and you can eat the fries while enjoying their beer. I guess since Maison Antoine is so popular, some restaurants probably didn't appreciate patrons bringing in outside food.

Realizing that we had a long day ahead of us, we brought our fries back to the hotel room to get some much needed rest for the next day.

Our day of sightseeing started off bright and early. Unlike the hop-on/hop-off bus that we used in both London and Paris, in Brussels we opted to do a traditional sightseeing tour in a coach. Yes, I know that's boring, but it was the best way to see the maximum amount of things in a short amount of time, in the rain. Here's a shot of the Grand Place before the major crowds came.

Inside the Galleria Marketplace (I can't remember for the life of me its official name...)

A shot of Justin modeling in front of the beautiful architecture of the Grand Place. I love the gold accents. D.C. needs more blingy buildings. :)

Our tour bus made a few stops at several parks, government buildings, and the 1958 World Fair attractions.  The one below is the Atomium

After our tour, we went back to the restaurants surrounding the Grand Place to look for something to eat. While looking at the menus outside of the restaurants, we spotted this faux Manneken Pis statue peeing beer, LOL. However, some of the servers spotted us and quickly escorted inside so we could take a look at the menu. Before you know it, we were sitting at a table with menus in hand--we totally got swindled! At first we were a little annoyed that we got hoodwinked; however, as we walked around, we noticed that all of the restaurants had their tactics of getting customers inside. Oh well, you live and you learn...

After lunch, we walked around some more and spotted a Smurf...

And some Tin Tin street art...

Here's Justin doing his best Manneken Pis (aka: little peeing boy) impression. Apparently there is a girl version of this statue called Jeanneke Pis  (aka: little girl popping a squat) in Brussels, but after an hour of searching, Justin and I couldn't find her!

After a long day of sightseeing, we indulged in some Belgian waffles. Man were they delicious! Crispy on the outside with a light sugar glaze, and warm and soft on the inside. Out of all the cities, I feel we enjoyed the food in Brussels the best.  

That concludes our European vacation! Whew! After a trip like that I have a serious case of wanderlust and am dying to travel more in 2013. I would like to go somewhere not as expensive as Europe (maybe Southeast Asia or Central/South America). Wherever our travels may take us, the Brioni are looking forward to our next adventure! :)

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