20140526 Brussels

9:10 Up. Strangely, I still felt very sleepy. Maybe the “travelling fatigue” started to build up.

9:45 Breakfast. The price was the same as in Amsterdam, but the food wasn’t as good. EUR 5.90.

10:10 Waited at the lobby.

10:30 Met Andrew.

10:35 Left the hostel with a tour guide for the free walking tour. That part of the city felt very urban, and not very sanitary.

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10:50 Grand Place. There was a huge stage which blocked the view on one side. The buildings were very fancy.

11:05 Waited forever in line to receive some paper ticket and started the tour. The guide was a Flemish guy named PJ, born and raised in Brussels. The tour started by walking around Grand Place.

The town hall had some features that “once seen could not be unseen”. The whole building was asymmetrical (the left half was longer than the right half), and the main gate was also skewed to the left.

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There were many extravagant-looking buildings, which were mostly guild houses. The original ones were destroyed by war, and there was a competition among different guilds for building the most luxurious guild house in the shortest time possible.

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Where Karl Marx wrote the famous Das Kapital. Apparently he was the first political refugee to deported from Belgium. A pickpocket approached the group while we were standing, and the tour guide chased him away.

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Apparently people from Brussels were also called chicken eaters, those from Michelen moon extinguishers, and those from Ghent nooses. I think moon extinguishers had something to do with people getting too drunk at a festival, somebody misinforming them there was a fire, and people trying to extinguish a non-existent fire.

The city was on the border of French speaking region and Dutch speaking region of the country, and the high unemployment rate of the city apparently is higher for French speaking population.

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Manneken pis, the pissing baby. Apparently this is their 8th one, because drunk college students stole 7 of them. Not many locals cared about this tiny statue, but apparently dressing him up was a thing.

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Stock exchange. It was absorbed by NYSE, and apparently there was a rumour of the building being turned into a beer hall.

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12:50 Rest stop at Scott’s. I ordered hot chocolate. It was very sweet. EUR 3.20.

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13:15 Tour resumed. It started to rain.
We headed to Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert, which was a first shopping mall of its kind.

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The cathedral had a very cool stained glass window.

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14:15 The tour ended at a hill looking down onto the city. He talked about first and second world war, the religious war between Catholics and protestants, and how his grandfather participated in WWII. My first impression of Brussels was a dirty city with some fancy buildings. It felt completely different after the tour, after hearing about its history, language and culture. EUR 10.

15:00 After walking around, it started raining so we headed over to a pub Andrew went to last night, called Delirium cafe. The interior was cool, and they had a huge collection of beer. I had a hard time choosing one, so I asked the bartender to recommend me something light and fruity. I ended up ordering a mango beer, which turned out to be a disappointment, unfortunately. EUR 3.30.

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16:35 Out. It had stopped raining. The Belgian restaurant recommended by the tour guide started serving dinner at 6 PM, so after walking around the town for some time, I sat down beside the main gate of the town hall and watched people.

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18:00 Brueghel. I ordered Flemish stew and fries. The stew was made from beef and beer, and was amazing. I dipped the fries in the stew, which felt a little like gravy, and they tasted really good. EUR 9.50.

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19:30 The waiter I ran into asked me where I was from. I told him Canada, which he was surprised to hear, so I told him I was Korean-Canadian. I somehow ended up teaching him how to say hello in Korean.

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19:35 Out. Andrew wanted a waffle, and we walked around grand place but they had all closed for the day.

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20:20 Back in the hostel.

20:40 Chatted with Andrew at the lounge area. The TV was on, and they had something quite provocative on it…

23:00 Done for the day.

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