Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Anna's Visit!

Anna left a week ago today after a wonderful visit! We had a week of wandering around Brussels, hanging out and just generally enjoying each other’s company.

She got here on Wednesday of last week, and after my customary visit to Belgium’s only Starbucks, we were on our way back to my humble abode. The bus ride was excruciatingly slow because it was rush hour, so it took ages to get back. Miguel helped carry the bag upstairs, and I let Anna settle in for a well deserved nap.I got her up around 12:30 so we could meet Miguel and a couple others for lunch at El Vergel (our fave lunch spot). That was delicious, as always, and a fun lively atmosphere.

The rest of the afternoon was chilling, going grocery shopping, and mini crime night (NCIS and CSI Miami). Exciting, I know!

The next day, Thursday, was quite cloudy, but after lunch we decided to attempt a walk to the Grand Place. We got about halfway there when the clouds broke apart and it started POURING. Like, these clouds were not messing around, we’re talking BIG, fat-ass rain drops that were VERY cold. So we decided we needed to take shelter somewhere (as neither of us had an umbrella), so we ducked into this cafe, Au Cherch Midi, where the proprietor promptly shooed us out, saying they were closed (even though there were loads of people at tables, eating and drinking). I’m never going there again! So then we were stuck out again, to wander until we found a ledge to duck under. Mind you, were completely soaked and cold at this point. We did go into this cool furniture shop that had some pretty amazing pieces, but a single pillow cost about 400 EUR. We were followed around by one of them women that worked there, she probably thought we would steal something, or damage it beyond repair. After that, we found ourself a ledge and an overhang and stood there for about 15 minutes, waiting for the rain to let up. Did it? Not really. We got tired of waiting, so when it had lessened to a pour, we ventured out.

On the way back I stopped to pick up a free magazine to use as an umbrella-substitute, and was complimented by another passer-by (in French) at my ingenuity. We made our way to Veritas (a place that had umbrellas) and I went over to pick one out. At that point we were very close to home, but I didn’t own one at all (stupid cheap umbrellas, always breaking), so I decided it’s now or never. I talked to a couple of girls also looking at umbrellas, about how there were cheaper places to buy them, but they broke and why clear umbrellas are better. Anna and I then went home and dried off, and decided leaving the apartment was overrated.

The following day, we actually did make it to the Grand Place, and all around Brussels without rain spoiling our plans (though we brought the umbrella anyway). We wandered all around the center, and did lots of touristy things (like get Anna one of those disposable cameras). We saw the royal park, the Palais Royale, and lots of other things. We got her some chocolates to take home, and some good cookies at Maison Dandoy. After that we dragged our butts back home.

We also went out for a lovely dinner that night at Belgo Belge (a Belgian restaurant we live really close to, but hadn’t tried yet). Anna treated (bc she’s awesome) and we had some great food. I had duck breast in Kriek (cherry beer) sauce, YUM. We then went to l’Ultime Atome (another restuarant/cafe very close) and got dessert (Dame Blance, vanilla ice cream with melted Belgian chocolate poured on top, again, YUM). We returned home stuffed and happy.

Saturday saw us up and out by 1pm for more sight-seeing and the like. We walked through the Sablon, to the Grand Place, saw the Mannekin Pis, got waffles, saw a movie and got the bus home. Sunday, the church bells woke us all up around 10, and we wandered around groggily getting our breakfast together. The rest of the day (and Monday) we spent walking around more, getting souvenirs (for Anna), chocolates, going out to dinner etc.

All in all, I would say it was a VERY successful visit! (Pictures coming soon!)

Friday, July 17, 2009

Hit and Run

On Tuesday, Miguel and I decided to take a walk in the royal park after work. We made it about halfway around the perimeter, when we heard “SCREEEEEECH, CRASH!!!! SCREEEEEECH, VRROOOOM” After the first screech, we turned to look, and saw this navy blue sports car, complete with spoiler take a turn WAY too fast, slam into a parked convertible Mini (knocking the back bumper clean off), and then tear away.

Being that hit-and-runs disgust me (how inconsiderate can you be, I mean honestly), I wanted to do something about it. We stood looking around for quite a while, talked to a couple other witnesses (there were loads, it was a nice, bright day and there were a lot of people in the park, as well as leaving work) and continued on our way. I wanted to call the police, and Miguel was saying he didn’t have the vocab in French. We were still walking and talking about it, when we saw some federal police right across the street, and talking to one of our fellow-witnesses, no less. We decided we had to go over and share what we saw, and it turned out the guy knew some English. The guard from next door came over as we described the car, and started ranting (in perfect English) about how this happens a lot, and people are so inconsiderate, etc. After Miguel gave the officer his ID, we said goodbye to the guard (who left us with the remark that more people should be like us, haha) and continued on our walk.

So there you have it, there’s always something going on!