What an AWESOME weekend! With the intention of breaking the cycle of merely going out and doing homework, my friends and I decided to branch out and engage in more events catered to locals. And while we did find ourselves at Brussels’ notorious beer festival, I must say I had the most fun this weekend than I’ve had yet this semester!
Friday: Date Night in the Forest
While my friend, Caitlin, may not get all her homework done early, she as a knack for finding really neat events and restaurants that, of course, she talks me into trying with her! Friday night, we ventured out to Chalet Robinson, a restaurant located in the middle of Terkameren Bos / Bois de la Cambre (Belgian forest). The restaurant is located on a little island that is surrounded by a lake, and the only way to access the restaurant is to take a small pontoon boat! After making quite the trek to the restaurant itself, we were led to a table on a beautiful terrace covered by umbrellas and string lights. We ordered, chatted away, and enjoyed what was hands down one of the best meals I’ve ever had! I ordered a salad with warm goat cheese, apricots, and candied walnuts and it was to die for. Seriously, I’m planning on going back before leaving and very much considered ordering another salad to go. After our leisurely dinner, we made our way back through the way-too-dark forest, and caught the bus lines back to our homes, bellies full and excited for the adventures that lay ahead that weekend (and, of course, with six more restaurants Caitlin is determined to have me try with her!)
Saturday: Comic Book Parade, Belgian Beer Festival, Easy Tempo, and Braderie
After meeting up with friends at the bus station, we took off towards the center of town (where the Grand Place is located at the Bourse bus station) in lieu of viewing the Comic Book Festival’s Balloon Parade, which was humorously described on their website as ‘modeled off of the 1824 New York annual balloon festival’ aka the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.) As you may know, Brussels hosts one of the world’s largest Comic Book conventions yearly in September, and while we agree it was not really our scene, my friends and I totally took advantage of the parade! Consisting of six or seven balloons, we laughed to see many American icons (Superman, The Lorax, etc); we were also lucky to be standing at one of the spots where all the bands, dance groups, and military brigades performed, which was really neat! Became quite emotional when a group of men representing the Belgian Armed Forces did a gun salute- missed my Pepe, and remembered all the years of proudly watching him march in parades on Veterans’ Day and Memorial Day.
After the parade, we were back to Grand Place to partake in Brussels’ Belgian Beer Festival! In a word, it’s a lot like a smaller Oktober Fest; there are maybe 25 tents set up around the Grand Place, representing various French and Flemish breweries from around the country. You can purchase so many tokens (which are actually beer caps!) and trade them in at the various tents for different types of beer. From the Boon Brewery, I enjoyed a Cherry Kriek, and from Lindemans had this amazing peach beer called Pecheresse. We made several new friends, including a group of fifty year old men from Canada, a group of college kids from Paris, and a mystery man in a red body suit. Lots of laughs!
Starving, Ben and Alex led the way to Easy Tempo, this great pizza place that they had previously been to. Thin crust pizza, Caitlin and I split a pizza with ham, artichokes, mushrooms, and pesto. Delicious!
We then headed back to a neighborhood near ULB, where a huge block party had been advertised for the past several weeks. Braderie, meaning ‘street sale’ was filled with clothing, jewelry, cheese, sausage, and ice cream stands, mixed with various carnival rides, tiki bars, and extended table seating from the restaurants. Between sampling more beer, watching Emily and Ben dance with locals, and trying to persuade one another which carnival ride was the best (ended up not riding any of them), the Braderie made for a great end to an exciting day! Oh! and we got ice cream before the parade that was amazing! 🙂
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
Sunday: Farmers’ Market
Sunday, the same group of five headed to Ixelles near the Wiener stop to a huge (and I mean huge) Farmers’ Market that stretched about four blocks! Cheese stands, bakeries, fresh fruits and vegetables, Thai and Greek cuisine tempted our taste buds and stomachs until we finally caved in and made purchases for a picnic lunch!