DAY 43 - FEBRUARY 15, 2007
Trip Start Jan 03, 2007
15Trip End May 29, 2007
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
I must apologize for the long hiatus between entries. A lot has happened since February 4 (besides Peyton Manning winning his first Super Bowl) including my weekend trip to Brussels. So much to tell.
On the day of my flight, my seņora insisted that I arrive at the airport two hours prior to my initial flight to Madrid, from which I would catch my connecting flight to Brussels. Fine. So I woke up extra-early, ate some energy in the form of toast and coffee and headed for the bus to the airport. Long story short, I arrive at the airport two and a half hours before my first of two flights to Brussels, again, connecting through Madrid. Oh, and did I mention that Sevillaīs airport only has eight gates. Thatīs right, eight (ocho, 8, 10 minus 2)! This, coupled with the fact that my lay-over in Madrid was scheduled to be three hours meant that I had lots of waiting around ahead of me. Oh well.
So I get Madrid promptly after a 50 minute flight to discover that my flight to Brussels has been delayed an hour! Well, as you have read in my first entry, I love Madridīs airport; in fact, if I had to pick an airport to hang out in for four hours, it would probably be Madridīs.
I finally arrived in Brussles 11 hours after I woke up; as I type this, I realize how spoiled I am - Napolean would have loved to make it to Brussels from Sevilla in just 11 hours. My roommate from George Washington University who is studying in Brussels, Eric Soucie, met me at the airport, and from then on, the trip ran smoothly. He took me to a Turkish hole-in-the-wall for dinner and ordered me a Durum. Okay, imagine a wrap with mystery meat, French fries, sautéed vegetables, and spicy mayonnaise; in other words, Durum translates to "sheer bliss." Afterward, we hit up a few bars, including Delirium, a pub located in a basement that holds the Guinness World Record for most varieties of beer commercially available. What would Homer Simpson do with himself?
The following day, Eric and I met up with the third member of our Brussels weekend triumvirate, Rachael Baird. She too is from GW and is currently studying in London. We enjoyed coffee at the train station and started walking around Brussels.
Brussels is the capital of Belgium, NATO, and the European Union. Thus, government and politics plays a key role in the city. There are two official languages in Brussels - French and Dutch - and everything, from menus to subway maps, is printed in both languages. Brussels is hilly in some places and features a bounty of cobbled streets. The weather is quite similar to that of London; as a result, it was rainy, cold, and cloudy.
For lunch, I devoured a Madam sandwich (a melted cheese and ham sandwich with a sunny-side-up egg on top), French fries, and minestrone soup. All three were excellent. We followed our lunch up with, yes, Belgium chocolates. There are a number of shops throughout the city, but we made sure to go to a square where shops are plentiful. Belgium chocolates are everything they are cracked up to be.
Some of the sites we checked out: the Habsberg capital, the Royal palace, the Chinese pavilion, the Japanese Tower, churches, and the Arc de Triomphe (apparently, Paris isnīt the only city with one). It is a manageable city to walk, but all the hills and cobbled streets started to wear on us.
Dinner that night was one of the best I have had in a long time (no disrespect to Sevillana food). We shared a bottle of dry, sweet, white wine from Alsace. I stared with French onion soup (possibly my favorite soup). My entrée was literally a bucket of 40 to 50 mussels cooked in a cream, garlic sauce. Unbelievable. I ate some more fries on the side and finished it all off by sharing a Belgium waffle with chocolate sauce and whipped cream with Rachael. How does that song go? "Iīm in heaven...?"
The beer in Brussels is unprecedented to anything I have ever seen before. Ever try coconut beer? How about peach or cherry beer? Well, I only had the coconut (had to give it a shot), but that this only the beginning. They have beers of all colors, flavors, aromas, and weights and they each come with their specific glass. So, in essence, you can identify what one is drinking solely by looking at the shape of her glass.
The next day, we walked around Little Europe, which was a little tacky for me. We tried to enter the Atomium, a giant metal structure in the shape of an iron atom standing 200 feet high, but we decided against shelling out an additional six euros. It has a restaurant on the top floor and supposedly gives a great view of the city. I guess I will have to visit again.
Phew. Okay, now a break from the Brussels description. There is something that I want to share about Spanish culture. It is much more liberal that you would think a 92 percent Catholic country would be. Gay marriage, legal. Co-ed bathrooms, exist. Public displays of affection, everywhere. And I thought living on co-ed college floors was cool.
I am starting to realize how conservative America is. Iīm not talking Republican or Democrat, rather we are conservative in the rules which we live by. Look at our drinking age. Or our stance on co-ed bathrooms (not that I think we should have them). People park their cars on lawns and sidewalks in Sevilla and this would never happen in America do to the accumulation of ticekts. People also donīt feel obligated to pick up their own dogīs feces. In the words of my professor regarding this matter, "Would you want to pick it up?" Fair enough.