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.

A 360 Look at La Grand Place

Want a closer look at La Grand Place? Here are two 360 videos filmed in the center of the square. The difference between day and night is quite astonishing, and both are beautiful in a different way.

La Grand Place During the Day

La Grand Place at Night

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A Moment of Mindfulness

Here’s your moment of mindfulness while I reflect on mine:

(It’s a 360 video)

I’m starting to connect the dots between the moving parts in my life.

I used to try to think that everything was connected, and that everything happens for a reason. I’ve read books, exhausted mantras, and begged for signs. Little did I know the energy was aligning itself around me this whole time.

What sparked this sudden appreciation for the universe? Awareness…”duh” moments.

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I got a message from my friend David this evening. A simple “sup man” spiraled me into word-vomit typing fueled by inspiration. A puzzle piece found its home in my brain. Another synapse secured.

David makes music, and he’s been at it for about a year now. By making a conscious effort to refine his talent, and learning how to translate from beats his head to the world, he’s gotten so freakin’ good at it. I’m so happy nothing has stopped him from getting better at what he loves to do.

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Shoutout to Molly Dupont

The “duh” moment came when I recalled a scenario from earlier today. Shan tasked me with picking songs for one of our ever-so-fun YouTube videos and I tried my best to choose ones that made sense. Music is the most important complement to the visuals – it’s not easy to find a song that communicates the vibe we feel we’re while in awe. It’s calm and exciting all at the same time, like a bath bomb. I don’t know anyone who can capture that essence better than David. I can’t wait to share our new mixture of media with you.

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All in all, the more energy you spend on making your dreams come true, the stronger your dreams will be attracted to you.

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We Made a 360 Video

We’ve mentioned Rembrandt Square/Rembrandtplein plenty of times since we’ve been here. It’s a beautiful bustling area 30 seconds from our apartment.

One of our favorite things to do is to see the square at night. It’s got history, pubs, restaurants, and gay clubs! Have a look at the area for yourself.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with 360 vids: When you’re watching the video, use your mouse to click and scroll around 360 degrees in any direction. That way, you can view what we’re seeing first hand!

For those of you who are VR savvy: Pop your phone into your goggles and come meet us in Amsterdam! What are you waiting for?

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From a Temple to the Moon

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

He Hua Temple – Fo Guang Shan

We found ourselves in a place we didn’t expect to find in Amsterdam.

Located in Chinatown, the He Hua Temple is a hidden gem among the skinny streets that pretty much all look the same.

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Established in 2000

We only went in for about ten minutes – ten peaceful minutes. The incense relaxed our minds as we soaked up information like the reasons why this temple was built in the Netherlands:

  • To spread the Buddhist concepts, also by means of cultural exchanges and activities;
  • To help to develop talents, skills and good qualities of people by means of good education;
  • To stimulate positive developments in society by means of charity projects;
  • To purify heart and soul of all people by giving them the opportunity of learning to practice Buddhism.
Cited from http://ibps.nl/he-hua-temple/

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Amsterdam Noord

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To get to Amsterdam Noord (North), one must take a free ferry by Central Station to cross the itty-bit of water that rests between the two land masses. Why is there no bridge? According to Anthony Bourdain’s tour guide in the Amsterdam episode of The Layover, he thinks “they” used to ship the crazy people and criminals over there hundreds of years ago. I guess they didn’t want them coming back…who knows. I admit the change in transportation was quite refreshing and welcomed by our aching feet.

By now I’ve read many blogs and tourist sites – only some of which mention Amsterdam Noord. Though we’ve only experienced two of its main attractions, I already recommend taking a day trip to see what it has to offer.

A’DAM Lookout

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In order to get to the top of the Lookout, the price of regular admission is‎ €12.50. I promise it’s well worth it if you like a gorgeous view. Included in your ticket is a free photo, like this one:

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The building features a sky deck, Europe’s tallest swing on the sky deck, and an indoor lookout spot which doubles as a bar. Oh yeah, there’s a Gibson throne, too 🎸👑

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Here’s some pics from the sky deck:

More shots from the indoors where it was warm:

Nestled on the opposite side of the bar were TVs and headphones full of info about Amsterdam. Here’s what I found to be the coolest tidbits:

Fun facts about Amsterdam & The Netherlands

  • There are more bikes than people.
  • 10,000 bikes are fished out of the canals a year.
  • As one of the most diverse cities in the world, it’s home to over 175 nationalities.
  • Holland was the first nation to legalize gay marriage, abortion, and euthanasia.

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Perhaps the most incredible part of the city is the way the sun sets over it.

Eye Film Museum

When the sky grew dark, we headed over to the A’DAM Lookout’s next-door neighbor, the Eye Film Museum. There was no exhibition at the time, but we were able to experience the bottom level for a few hours where we indulged ourselves with some fun facts about – you guessed it – film!

Flipbook

You can make your own if you want to pay like €6 for it – we didn’t.

Artifacts

The artifacts on display represent the evolution of film – from stereoscopy to a zoetrope to a Mitchell to an iPhone 3 (which was the first smartphone to be able to record a quality video) and all that’s in-between.

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Fun fact: George Lucas used a Mitchell VistaVision High Speed #1 to film Star Wars.

360°

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This is blurry but whatevs.

I was really hoping to see some 360 videos in here, but instead found a bunch of clips from monumental films that showcased the development of genres and styles of different cultures. Still cool.

Speaking of 360, I will have a VR video for you folks soon 😉

Private, Comfy Pods

There are little nooks where you can sit down and watch some of the most famous Dutch films of all time, which range from 10 minutes to an hour in length. We chose Zoo by Bert Haanstra (1962) – a silent film that still managed to make us giggle through a subtle string of events.

The Green Screen

Last but not least, there was a green screen that we had waaay too much fun with. See for yourself!

We used the green screen until the museum closed at 7 pm because that’s how much fun we were having.

After heading home, we slumped in our seats and didn’t move for seven hours. There’s no better way to end an adventurous day than brain-dumping it into a blog post until 3 am!

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Are there any views that leave you in awe? Movies that move you more than others? Comment below to share them with us! We’re always looking for recommendations 🙂

Learn Something New, Why Dontcha?

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

Feeling tired of our concrete surroundings, we were happy and relieved to finally see what Vondelpark is all about.

A Vondelightful Walk In the Park

I needed this fresh air away from the stink of cigarettes and greasy food. It was chilly, but that’s something you learn to brave through quickly. Bundle up, shut up, and explore.

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Peep the Rijksmuseum in the background!

We Van Went to the Van Gogh Museum

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I really enjoyed this museum. It made me feel stupid for not having known more about one of the most famous artists of all time. Am I the only one who was unclear about the whole cutting-off-ear-and-dying-two-years later thing? Let me break some things down for you.

Vincent’s Thug Life

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Here’s how the major events went down:

  • 1880Age 27: Decided to ditch mining to become an artist.
  • 1888 – Age 35: Started to go crazy and cut his ear off.
  • 1890Age 37: Shot himself in the chest with a pistol. Died two days later.

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If you’re like me, you’re probably shocked at how quickly his fate turned from hopeful to hopeless. Like…wait a minute. I thought he was so eager for life and success, right? So what made him go from motivated painter to someone medicated by the paint brush in just 10 years?

The Letters

Aside from the progression of his work, his letters allow you to peek inside his brain and feel what he was experiencing throughout his life. His attitude reads like a somber appreciation for the simple things – he communicated his preference for bare branches and mute meadows over the complex city life. And when he began to feel threatened by his uncontrollable thoughts, we grieved the demise of his self-control as if he were our friend.

The Truth Behind How He Became Successful

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Theo van Gogh

I want to include a few other things that shocked me that I didn’t know before:

  • Vincent lived off a monthly allowance from his brother, Theo – an art dealer – for the 10 years he was an artist.
  • Vincent died before he flourished.
  • Theo was determined to honor Vincent when he died, but Theo died 6 months after Vincent.
  • Theo’s wife Jo and son Willem are responsible Vincent becoming mega-famous.

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Heavy Hearts and Hungry Tummies

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The museum left an impression on us as we walked back to our apartment. We were flustered and therefore missed an opportunity to experiment with Dutch cuisine. We chose the barestaurant down the street from our apartment, and we were disappointed to find it had mostly American food as well as endless amounts of American sport’s decor.

I caved and ordered chicken wings. Sorry guys, no pix of them beeeecause what a terrible choice that was! I mean, they weren’t bad…they just weren’t J. Timothy’s 😫💔😢💭🍗

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So, I solemnly swear to order something Dutch the next time we eat something other than the groceries we already bought. Btw, let me give a shoutout to arguably the BEST chocolate milk I might ever have in my lifetime, Chocomel 👏🏼  Screw you and thank you for being so addicting.

I’ll catch you guys up on the next museum and adventurous activity in the next post.

For now,

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Ever been to the Van Gogh Museum? Have a favorite art piece you’d like to share with us? Tell us by commenting below!