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Brussels

It’s gonna be a long one folks, strap yourselves in.Let’s start the story of Brussels with this…

… a look of smugness that is worn on my face regularly, but has rarely been captured on film.

Congratulations Ariel.

(The coat is Ariel’s, I am flouncing!).

The week after Ella (a.k.a Ariel) stayed with me in Berlin contained a public holiday (Germany, in its infinite wisdom, shoves nearly all of its public holidays into May, just to make sure you have a really boring June-September. I am sure you have heard me complain of this fact before). So we decided to make the most of it- I booked a flight to meet up again with Ella, this time in the far away land of Belgium. The main plan was to see the Bluebells. The remainder of the plan was mostly ‘well, I guess we’ll see what Belgian is like’.

Anyway, I was kind of lazy with the ticket booking, and ended up having to take the 6:30 am (read- 4 am wake-up) flight out of Berlin as a way avoid kidney-priced payments. So I arrived at the hotel (thanks to Ariel’s great directions regarding transport, and then her actual physical presence at the station to guide me home) and immediately collapsed on the bed. Ariel provided gossip, several cups of tea, many Printen (an amazing chewy ginger-bread like cookie from Aachen- her previous stop), and gently stroked my brow. Then we scrubbed our faces, applied lippy to hide the tired, and marched towards the city.

Our plan was to walk into the old city, which is supposed to be the most (or only, if you listen to some) interesting part of Brussels. But I pretty much spent the first 1/2 an hour of our stroll saying ‘coffee coffee coffee’, so we had to make a quick detour first. Unfortunately, while Ariel was willing to oblige, the city was not. We walked (through some sort of film set up I will have you know- we may well be Famous In Belgium by now) to a well-rated coffee shop I had ge-googlet, only to find that it was closed until the exact day we left the country.

Thanks for nothing Brussels.

Still, it turns out that coffee is just not that hard to find when you are less in it for the subtleties of the brew, and more in it for the caffeine. We came, we saw, we conquered, we sat, we drank, we ate sweet and savoury snacks, and one of us even got a second coffee for the road.

At this point, my (Ariel’s) coat had come undone, and the whole thing was having a detrimental effect on the general aesthetic of our group. Ariel told me to tie it properly, and I pretended that I could not (or maybe I actually could not?).

I’m fairly sure that these three photos accurately summarise my entire relationship with my sister.

  

Some people are meant to be dressed you guys.

Once I was thoroughly caffeinated, we continued our walk in the general distance of the old town, passing a church or two on the way…

We hit the googlemaps blob marked as ‘old city’ and our wandering quickly degenerated into meandering, as we wove in and out of streets with little plan or sense of direction.

That is until we realised that we had wandered past Jeanneke Pis, which we wanted to see. So we spent 10 minutes less-aimlessly backtracking, and wound up at this:

Unfortunately, she is in a cage. Feel free to insert any feminist rant about the general oppression of women as symbolised by this fact here.

In any case, this little lady is pretty cool. As someone who has thigh muscles that turn to jelly the second I do half a lunge, I have to at the very least admire her squat. I’m a little concerned that she might be peeing on her own feet, but really, that’s always been the price of womanhood, and it’s probably better that she learns it now.

Anyway. Apparently gazing at someone peeing was an appetite stimulant: we hit up one of Belgium’s prime culinary delights, pommes!

These ones were double fried, which I would recommend. We had another round or two of chips during our stay but none of them really rose above the standard fare in Deutschland. If you’re going to take the caloric hit of fries you might as well get extra fried fries, and add some mayo on while you’re at it.

Anyone who has met my sister will be unsurprised to hear that she cannot be satisfied by mere salty fare alone. The day, and indeed the trip, was punctuated by frequent detours into truffle shops, and little murmurs of satisfaction when a rare or exciting new flavour was discovered.

At one point all roads lead to the main square. We stopped to have a look, and take some selfies…

 

There was the nice ones, above, of us looking sisterly and generally pleasant.

And then there are the more accurate ones:

 

 

 

Nice eh?

Anyway, this whole Europe trip has made me realise that Ariel is the sort of woman who looks is particularly suited to a grand and historical backdrop. Check it: 

Right?!

So.

Having posed and snacked and all that jazz, we decided that we might as well at least stop by the very famous Mannekin Pis.

Us and 40,000 other tourists.

Sure.

Fine.

I’m pretty sure Ariel used the phrase ‘It’s smaller than I expected’, and then we giggled, because we are children.

     

We walked past the museum (?) where they kept all the little costumes that Manneken is dressed up in each year, past this guy:…

… and past some quite pretty buildings.

People will very willingly tell you that Brussels is ugly, but there are some honestly lovely bits too.

Because we were in Belgium, and because we grew up reading our older cousin’s Tin Tin and Asterix, we made a stop at the comic book museum.

(^How many do you recognise?)

I didn’t know many of the comics well enough to get invested in some parts of the museum, but I enjoyed the Tin Tin exhibit, and found the more scenic, sweeping colourful graphic novel-y comics (including the ‘Asian comic section’) quite beautiful.

^Berlin, including the Ku’damm near my house!

It’s important that you all know that I am a crazy cat lady, and being single has done nothing if not intensify this fact.

Meet my new friend:

And here is Ariel with a Smurf on her head.

By the time we had finished the comic book museum I was honestly ready to nap. But given that it was a bit too early to eat and sleep, we decided first to hit up Delirium, at our cousin’s suggestion.

They seem to specialise in all sorts of flavoured beers, so we sat down with a Cherry something, and an Apple something else. I am no beer person.

(In Germany it is very important to look someone in the eye when you toast them. Bad sex awaits those who do not!).

And then it was time for Moules!

Luckily for me, once we had eaten our fill, Ariel agreed that we could head back to get an early night, in preparation for the next day of holidays.

We headed back home via the Grand Place, and were rewarded for our efforts with bluer skies and clearer shots.

And then, being the lazy/tired people we were, we took the lift up to the city heights, and headed back home to crash.

Try to guess which of these people did not get a full night’s sleep, and which did!

 

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