Monday, August 12, 2013

DBS Euro Trip 2013 - Brussels, Part Deux

Part 1 of the Brussels post was my venting about how frustrating the city was for us (me).  I thought for a change of pace, I would highlight some of the decent things about the city.  As a city, Brussels is of course old, but it seems like in its modern history it peaked in the early 1960's.  There didn't appear to be many modern or newish buildings in the city skyline.

In fact, Brussels hosted the World Exposition in 1958.  As part of the festivities, Brussels commissioned a sculpture to highlight the event and showcase the city into the future.  Enter, Atomium.

Atomium is a 335 foot high sculpture made out of stainless steel and aluminum.  Each of the balls you see in the picture can be reached by either steps or escalators and are home to exhibit space.  Here's a pro tip for you -- if it is a scorching hot 95 degrees outside, going inside a metallic, non-air conditioned sculpture with other sweaty people is a terrible, terrible idea.

It's a very striking object north of the main city, but it was reachable by the subway.  Once we got off the subway, it was (surprise!) not easy to negotiate our way from the station to the entrance to Atomium.  We had to cross parking lots, cut through bushes and other oddities to reach it.  We did meet a trio of interesting Canadians from Nova Scotia (a guy, his daughter, and her friend) who added onto our paranoia about Paris by informing us they were pickpocketed on the Paris subways.

After sweating through our jodphurs at Atomium, we walked across the street to an interesting little park called Little Europe.  It's a thinly veiled propaganda statement about unity within the European Union, as there is a to-scale model of one (if not more) buildings from each country in the European Union, along with some handy facts about that country.  DB~ enjoyed the first two-thirds of Little Europe, but then reached her fun quota when she got overheated.  She speedwalked through the last one-third, barely looking at the buildings and countries.  I think I took a picture of each building.  We have this one boss photo where I'm pretending to step on one of the buildings like a giant rage monster.

That night was our last full night in Brussels, so we cleaned up (and rested) and went into town to a restaurant called Chez Leon, rumored to have the best mussels in Brussels, presumably aside from Jean Claude van Damme.

Here's a shocker -- it was hot as hell's bells and the restaurant had no air conditioning (we didn't sit outside for reasons I can not remember).  I went with a simple order of mussels in a basic mirepoix of celery, carrot, and onion.  DB~ went with a slight variation on that, just in a white wine broth.  Each meal was served with frites.

Not to sound like a homer, but both DB~ and I agreed on a few things.  First, the mussels themselves were unbelievably tender and not rubbery at all.  This could be because the mussels are baked in a casserole type of container and not sauteed.  Second, the meal was not as good as mussels at Point Brugge.  The preparation of the mussels were not as good as the Brugge (although Chez Leon did have some interesting preparations such as an au gratin dish), as we just had some very basic dishes.  The other is that the frites were not as good as at the Brugge, mostly due to the lack of a good dipping sauce like the basil mayo.

The dinner was very good, so I complemented our snooty Belgian waiter by saying "We heard Chez Leon was the best place to get mussels in Brussels," to which he replied with no emotion:
"Yes, I know."

Brussels, ladies and gentlemen!  I couldn't get out of here fast enough and on the Eurostar to Paris.

No comments:

Post a Comment