Day 2.18

Smelling: waffles, the inside of a chic Belgian bar
Hearing: music for Qigong being played in the Grand Place, Scooby-Doo in French
Tasting: Speculoos paired with an espresso
Seeing: the interiors of several chocolate shops, a cloudy sky that never rained, Magritte paintings, armed guards
Feeling: calm and awake

Marine showed me around her neighborhood in the morning. There are lots of supermarkets, little boulangeries, and an outdoor market going on. Then she took me to the metro stop where I could go into Brussels center.

img_1842Last night while scrolling through Google Maps to get ideas for what I might do the next day, I saw “Magritte Museum” and got very excited. The area was very familiar once I got there, and I realized that I’d already been to the Magritte Museum once and to the Royal Museum complex several times before. No complaints, though– I can never get enough of my favorite artist. And I was very surprised at my ability to carry and fully understand the small transaction of buying my museum ticket in French!

Afterwards I wandered down into Sablon looking for lunch that wasn’t ridiculously expensive, and I guess I got myself a reasonable deal on a salmon salad at a near-empty bar. Nothing I couldn’t get in Ireland, for sure, but it was filling and healthy, which is what I needed since i just had a croissant for breakfast.

I ended up going to three chocolatiers in Sablon and picking out my own collection: Wittamer, which was confusing at first because I went into the café patisserie part looking for chocolates until I was informed that it was next door. I hadn’t heard of Wittamer before doing a Google search for chocolatiers, but it shares the first four letters with my family name so of course I had to show some solidarity.

Next was Neuhaus, which wasn’t anything new (heh, neu) to me but I was eager to try some of their truffles that I hadn’t tried before. Before me there was a gentleman who bought a box that ended up costing over 50 euros. A North American dad with his two kids (and wife outside) came in after me, but I let him go before me since I was going to have a long custom order and his little kids seemed impatient.

I was, again pleasantly surprised at my ability to complete the transaction in French. Even if it was mostly listing the chocolates that I wanted, I also added a box for Marine’s family at the end and understood the parts about sealing the bag, etc. This happened again at Marcolini, where I only got four truffles (ones I haven’t tried before) plus a bar of what calls itself the first Vietnam-grown chocolate.

I passed a donut shop earlier, so I went back up because my donut craving, so difficult to satisfy in Cork, was still present and I wanted to see what they offered. The donuts were kinda funny-looking and irregular, but that’s the sign of something good and homemade. In true Belgian form, I couldn’t decide between a Cuberdon (violet)-frosted donut or a Speculoos one, but I figured getting a doughy monstrosity slathered in Speculoos and coated in its crumbs would be a better use of four euros. And while it wasn’t the freshest donut I’ve had, with a little espresso het was heel smakelijk.

There was also a popcorn shop that exclusively sold gourmet flavors of popcorn! I was intrigued by the novelty, so I ended up going in and ended up buying gingerbread-flavored popcorn. Well worth it for later.

I did some more wandering after that and went around the Grand Place a bit, where a large crowd was doing a Qigong demonstration. Maybe for the Chinese New Year? And I found the old synagogue of Brussels, but it didn’t seem to be open to visitors. That would make sense for a Saturday, I suppose.img_1855

That night I cooked dinner for the Bomans– my mum sent me the lentils recipe that we like to make pretty often. Luckily they like spicy food, because it had harissa (hot and smoky) as well as cumin and coriander. They have such a nice little place, and it was a pleasure to cook in their kitchen. Marine and I talked about the various music and shows and games and other nerdy stuff that we both like, and we both love the new Voltron! I hadn’t watched any of the new season yet because it’s one of the things Brian and I say we’ll only watch together.

Afterwards we watched a Netflix special of a Moroccan-French comic in Québec, which was fun because while he did most of the show in French he used a lot of English (to poke fun at Americans, of course). I could understand a good chunk of the French, but it was certainly helpful to have the English subtitles on.

I got to Skype with Brian (it had been too long since we did last) and we watched the first episode of Voltron together. I’m really glad I got to finally start watching, and oh of course– talk to him again.

My walk back to the metro.

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