Bustling Through Brussels

 

 

Day 1 Continued

Alright, so Manneken Pis was underwhelming and we hit up La Grand Place within the same first hour. Several waffle places nearby lured us in.

Les gaufres de Liège sont les meilleures

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We effed up and didn’t get whipped cream on our waffle (still good though).

Our waffle was delicious. We haven’t had Nutella in our apartment in A’dam for the longest week ever because we’re trying to be somewhat healthy and penny-pinching, so this was a gorgeous thing that happened. We cherished every bite that was eaten with tiny forks while listening to people speaking French all around us. La perfection.

I noticed there were a LOT of people with waffles – not just tourists. Not only on the corner of Rue de l’Etuve and Rue de Chêne (where Manneken Pis is located), but everywhere else throughout the city. Brussels flexes their best features proudly.

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Next Stop, Chocolate

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Can’t stop eating chocolate rn.

We stopped in to get some chocolate right by the waffle places because the shops were literally everywhere and I felt like I had no self-control. I don’t regret it one bit. We ended up stopping in Planète Chocolat where the woman who sold us our goodies didn’t speak any English. All the more authentic, right? We walked around munching on it while wandering aimlessly and loving it.

Funny thing about this picture of chocolate here…there was a disco ball right by a nearby memorial. Similar to Amsterdam’s Light Festival, Brussels had its own art on display to the public.

The disco ball was positioned right next to the lookout that has an elevator branching off of it so you can take to get down further into the city. I’ve never seen one before and had no idea it was a thing that cities did.

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Beer…Duh

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Shannon and I ended up wandering without WiFi into Delirium, which is apparently a hotspot in Brussels. We enjoyed a nice sampling and a horn while we were at it.

Afternoon drinks turned into dinner at some place with weird meats and cheese. I took a gross video of the bouncy bologna but I’ll do you a favor and keep to myself.

Later at night we found ourselves at Le Coq where we met people from the Netherlands, Belgium and Denmark. I kept wondering what they thought meeting Americans was like.

Our friend from the Netherlands told us we were lucky to have found the one Dutch guy in there because the French were more likely to keep their comments to ourselves. He was open, nice and very honest with us. I appreciate all of those features in a person – especially a stranger. He also introduced me to the Belgian beer Chimay Blue that ended up getting me fairly drunk and very emotional about ordering pizza.

Day 2

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The next day was weird because we woke up in our Airbnb that was kind of an uncomfortable place to be. Like I mentioned in my last post, there were weird cats…so weird that in the morning, one of them pushed so hard on the door what he/she opened it. Keep in mind that I normally love cats, but these freaked me out. I had never stayed in an Airbnb private room before – I’ve usually had a respectful amount of place to myself. I really like that amount of space and would not want to do a sketchy private room again. Lesson learned.

We fixed our weird wake-up an awesome brunch. Peep my pic that’s getting lyke sew many notes on our tumblr taken @ Peck 47.

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Cute AF

Idk why but Shannon really wanted a milkshake, so we went on a mission to find one. She found this place called Jat’ Café that was near the Royal Palace, another tourist checklist item, and we walked across the city.

Jat’ Café

This café has great taste in music and this incredible thing called sweet coffee. I’ll let the portrait mode to the talking.

We sat and soaked in Brussels on a Friday afternoon with the rest of the day ahead of us.

The Royal Palace

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The Royal Palace is the official home of the King and the Queen of the Belgians.

We admired the enormousness of this building for a while and watched some of the guards stomping back and forth before heading off to the park across the street.

Side Note

SO many army men were walking throughout the streets. They carried huge rifles, and they were there because of the terrorist attacks that happened not too long ago. Just thought I’d share that observation.

The Rest is History

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Shanneken Pis!

The rest of Day 2 was spent killing time before the bus because we didn’t feel like spending money on a museum while we’ve got Netherlands museum passes for another week, though I was curious about the Musical Instruments Museum and Comics Art Museum. Who knows, maybe we’ll go back for longer in the future while we’ve still got time in Europe.

Fun fact: Brussels is the comic strip capital of Europe. There are large comics painted all over the city.

All in all, we had an excellent time in Brussels. The weather was kind, the food was to die for, and French confused me the entire time. By Friday night I was more than ready for my home away from home in Amsterdam.

sloppy-waffleSpecial shoutout to The Sloppy Waffle of Newington, CT for killing the Liège waffle game back home. I’m grateful to have had Belgium waffles back home and was pleasantly surprised to find I haven’t been missing out on the real deal.

Life is Precious

You haven’t visited the museums in Amsterdam until you’ve been to the Anne Frank House.

Anne Frank House

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I wasn’t allowed to take pictures or use my cell phone inside, which I get. But I did wish I had a notepad to record some of the quotes that were sprinkled throughout the house where Anne and her family went into hiding from the Nazis. I’ll share some of my favorites at the end of this post.

I don’t think there’s any true way to prepare for an experience like this. You start reading and transform into the observer – putting your own problems behind you in order to understand something bigger than you will ever have to face in your lifetime. Your heart aches for the hour you spend reading about Anne’s legacy and watching those who knew her speak about the kind of person she was.

For example, Otto Frank, her father, was filmed saying that the Anne on the pages of her diary is a different Anne than the daughter he knew and loved.

As someone who was once a teenage girl filled with angst and confusion, that allows me to try to place myself in Anne’s shoes. Obviously I can’t imagine the true horror and agonizing pain that she endured, but a special place in my heart ignites when I reflect on the things she had to say.

She was kind, sophisticated, and true to herself. She knew her words would carry weight if they ever had the opportunity to be read by the rest of the world. I respect that on so many levels.

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On display was her final diary preserved in a glass box, like the picture shown above. Original parts of the bookcase used to enter the annex were also maintained for visitors to see.

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My experience walking through the Anne Frank house provided an opportunity to recognize the things I am grateful for – I have freedom, support, and have found acceptance everywhere I’ve been so far in my life (knock on wood). Things are this way because others have fought for them to be.

My Favorite Anne Frank Quotes

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“We all live with the objective of being happy; our lives are all different and yet the same.”

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”

“As long as this exists, this sunshine and this cloudless sky, and as long as I can enjoy it, how can I be sad?”

“People can tell you to keep your mouth shut, but that doesn’t stop you from having your own opinion.”

-Anne Frank

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We Had a Supperb Weekend

Peep the video, then read the post…or do it the other way around. Whatever.

We’re covering more and more of the city each day.

It’s been a few days since we’ve done these things so I promise to be better about keeping up with this blog. These pictures below will do a lot of the talking for me, so feel free to skip the sap, scroll through them, and then head onto the next post.

The Rijksmuseum

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Look at this thing! This giant wonderland was founded in 1800 and is rich with art and history – because the two go hand in hand (duh). I was in awe with the size of the museum and its collection, and here I’ll share with you some pieces that caught my eye.

A Few of My Favorijks Things

The main attraction:
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The Night Watch, Rembrandt, 1642

Three fun facts about The Night Watch:

  • The artist – Rembrandt – is a famous Dutch artist and this is his most popular painting.
  • The figures in Rembrandt Square were created in memory of his 400th birthday.
  • It’s the centerpiece of the Rijksmuseum.
The biggest painting in the museum:
Ironically, I don’t know how to get this video to shrink.
Jan Willem Pieneman, The Battle of Waterloo, 1824
A pretty outdoorsy landscape:
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Italian Landscape with Umbrella Pines, Henrik Voogd, 1807
Ugh…I found Herbert (our mouse, who we saw yesterday):
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Mouse with a Candle Stump and a Nut, Joris Hoefnagel, 1594
And here’s the most beautiful thing I saw in the entire museum…my reflection: 😉
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Selfie in a Mirror, Shannon McCormick, 2017

I’m extremely glad we checked this place out first. Through the magnificent storytelling of visuals and guides, I’m beginning to further understand this place we chose to venture off to and the history that made it what it is today.

After seeing the attempts to capture Holland’s beautiful violet skies, it was cool to get a glimpse of the magic that night:
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Every canal is picture-worthy.

Right behind the Rijksmuseum is the ever-so-famous I amsterdam sign. Would we have really gone to Amsterdam if we didn’t take this tourist pic?

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The Irish girl who took this could’ve zoomed in a bit.

Dinner in Style

To round out our productive day, Shan and experienced a lovely, chic wine-and-dine thanks to one of our dearest friends, Frank (@frankroche, not the kitty Frank 🐱) – it’s called Supperclub, where we ate and partied (and looked good) in bed.

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When we first got there, the hostess covered our phone cameras with stickers and warned us not to use our phones at all. There were even characters crawling around with flashlights making sure we were following the rule. Funny enough, we met some really cool people on both sides of our setup and enjoyed the company around us. Europeans are so interesting, hah. We lived large with the cuisine and cocktails, and we enjoyed entertainment that was meticulously bursting with unsaid messages. Our dinner turned into dancing and the night disappeared before we knew it. Thank you Frank!

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Needless to say we spent the next day recovering – until Monday when we went back to the Museum Quarter for more.

Stay tuned to see which museums we hit up next!

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Any suggestions on what Shan and I should do next? We’re interested in your recommendations! While you’re at it, feel free to share some of your own experiences by leaving a comment. 🙂  Subscribe to get notified the next time a post is published!

At Least One Thing’s Figured Out

Our new Instagram name, @ageof_exploration.

Do you know how hard it is to settle on something that is supposed to draw people into you in one glance? Well it’s not easy. After months of going back and forth with terrible ideas with Shan, we are officially declaring ourselves as the @ageof_exploration.

Why?

  1. Shannon’s a history teacher
  2. We are explorers
  3. We both loved learning about the Age of Exploration
  4. We’re at the friggin’ age of exploration!

This doesn’t stop at Insta – we’ll figure out new ways to incorporate it into everything we make so you guys know how to track us on our adventure across the world.

What do you guys think? Comment and tell us if you like the name or if you have any other suggestions worth sharing!

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