Sunday, June 15, 2008
|Brussels in under 18hrs?! Done.|
Part of the plan for spending half the summer in the Paris office was to go and see other parts of Europe. I was going to go with a friend from the London office, but it was too costly to get from London to Brussels. So, only being able to sightsee for a while by myself (it’s like going to a club alone – I can dance for two or three hours by myself, but then I start to become very aware that I’m by myself), I decided, crazily, to take a “day” trip to Brussels.
The plan: arrive in Brussels on Saturday in the mid-afternoon, sightsee, sightsee, dine, club and bar hop all night until my early Sunday morning train. I took my blackberry with me and this is my log of the events. (I would have sent them directly to the blog rather than keeping a long test file, but for reasons passing understanding my firm issued me a blackberry from 20 blackberries ago and it didn’t have enough juice to keep the wireless constantly on [having only decided to journal the journey when I was on the subway to Gare du Nord].)
12.51 I arrive to the train.
12.55 Messages start in (order) French, Dutch (Flemish?), German and English.
13.33 Food service begins. Yay for first class! Get 'tude from the server 'cause I don't understand his question and he has to speak to me in English. FYI: I pige the question, I just don't understand why he asked me "Would [lunch] bother you?"
13.59 Rain starts to pound on the window. It's going to be a wonderful excursion.
14.14 Train begins to pull into the station. ‘Tude-y server handed out little chocolates and the rain appears to have let up.
14.35 After consulting about six different maps/plans (the first one I look at is a night bus map and I don't figure that out until my fifth map) I board the #2 train bound for Simonis, where I plan to transfer to the #1 bound for Roi Baudouin (getting off at Heysel).
14.40 I take mental note that from the train car, Brussels looks to be far more diverse than I would have expected. (But I also got on the subway near a train station – I wonder if that has something to do with the diversity.)
14.48 The board indicating how far away all trains heading to the station I’m at are (and how close some are that have come and gone) lights to indicate the train that was at a station one minute away is "now" in my station and at that instant the train pulls in. I wonder if that board is ever inaccurate.
15.11 I step out into fresh Brussels air for the first time. It's wet. It smells like fries. And American rock music is glaring. Evidently this is a theme park.
15.22 I am lost at Heysel. I can see the Atomium, but I cannot see how to get there.
16.10 A new feeling: resentment of all the Belgian school kids (or kids field tripping to Brussels) who get to overnight in the Kids' Sphere.
16.19 Speaking of kids, a cute little Arabic boy pushes the "stop" button on the escalator just as I get off. His mother and I exchange a look. Mine says, "Cuyeurt!" and hers says, "::sighs:: he's done this before."
16.43 There is a quartet of Spaniards behind me. At first I liked them because while none of them (2 guys and 2 girls) is especially attractive, they are all nicely dressed (compared to the rest of the crowd). BUT they keep bumping into me (absolutely no sense of personal space) and bit by bit they have started to edge ahead of me in the "line" for the elevator to the top. Grrrr!
16.46 Ah, the view from the top – achieved by taking what was the world's fastest elevator in 1958.
17.01 To the Pavilion of Temporary Happiness! (Constructed entirely out of beer crates, celebrating/mourning the trappings and bric-a-brac of the 1958 World's Fair, modernity and hope for the future.)
17.46 (too much time in the gift shop, and NOW NOW) to the Pavilion of Temporary Happiness!
18.13 I am in the craziest coolest room ever, in the Pavilion of Temporary Happiness. It's the size of a large master bedroom and is all black, but on all of the walls and ceiling are being projected the images of a movie. With sound and translations on the walls depending on the language of the speaker at any given time. It’s a documentary in five dimensions about the '58 World's Fair. What's crazy is that some of the images go into the others in a really cool and choreographed way.
18.21 Nothing temporary about the happiness here. I could spend all day exploring the fair grounds, but now its time to explore the city (i.e., eat some gauffres). To La Grand Place!18.29 I am almost back to the subway and I realize I didn't go to Mini-Europe. So no pics of me on the cusp of destroying puny European monuments. Next time I'm in Bruparck.
19.08 Spot superheroes (?) on the steps of the Bourse (?).
19.12 Never been so happy to spot a gay bar. Someone needs to bleed the lizard. And oh, they are playing the Macarena!
19.23 I pass the third lace shop in not nearly as many blocks.
19.35 I turn down a passage and suddenly the sun is blotted out by awning warfare – each restaurant vying for out door space on a street barely four people wide. And I feel like I am walking in a circle around the Grand Place. Surely it’s here somewhere. Hmmm...
19.51 After almost giving up and going to dinner... Success.
20.00 Shrieks of pleasure and red and yellow face painted mobs are pouring out onto the street – looks like Belgium (or someone) won the match.
20.09 I ask a senior citizen couple the way to the Musée Royale (where I have chosen to have dinner). The husband starts to speak, pointing where I need to go, as the sound of an accordion wafts through the air. His red-haired wife slaps his pointer finger down, tells him he has no idea what he's talking about, and proceeds to give me the very same directions.
20.19 She had said to climb to the top of the big staircase. "What big staircase I asked?" Oh, that big staircase. It's a biiiiiig staircase.
20.53 I have just finished soaking up the Place Royale and am in the Museum Brasserie. If the food is un tiers as good as the decor, I'm in business.
21.08 I just ordered North Sea shrimp croquettes with fried parsley to start, with roasted farm-raised chicken cooked in Westmalle beer as my main dish. Of my choices, the server assured me that they are the most "classic" but also less commonly found. After taking more pics of the resto, I sip my glass of the house aperitif (champagne and lime) (third glass of champagne in two days) (yesterday at Spoon for lunch, the partner ordered champagne to start followed by white wine. Ahh, working in Paris) and the question occurs to me: at what point did I stop being carded? Yeah, I know I’m +5yrs legal now, but whatevs. Just curious. Maybe this is just how Europe do.
21.14 This may be the most fantastic (and salty!) butter I have ever ever ever had.
21.22 At 21.21 I ordered a glass of a Chilean chardonnay from one server. It just arrived, brought by an entirely different server. Provide quick service much?!
21.28 FRITES! How could I have forgotten to order them? Consider the problem rectified. Meanwhile, also consider that fried parsley is weird and has lost all of the refreshing spice that makes parsley so lovely.
21.35 Other than the staff (which seems to be half white, half North African), I think I'm the only easily discernibly non white person in the whole of the Museum Brasserie. So much for all that lush diversity.
21.54 Three landmark conclusions: 1) after tasting the butter, shrimp, fries and chicken, I feel comfortable in unequivocally stating that the Belgians are NOT afraid to salt their food; and 2) chicken should always be cooked in Westmalle beer; and finally 3) I am pretty sure I've had sex in Paris with the guy sitting next to me's identical twin.
22.00 Whoever claimed that European portions are smaller than American ones clearly included a footnote: "This claim does not apply to Belgium." Only through sheer will power am I going to get through dessert (I have not eaten in 8hrs and I'm still leaving large amounts on my plate), luckily I have +7hrs to walk it off.
22.06 Quel horreur! I can't have dessert because I have to skedaddle to one of the gay saunas before it closes at midnight. I am not in Brussels to get laid, but I would super duper love a shower before I continue on with my adventure. Guess I’ll have to get my gauffre on the street like everybelgian else.
22.18 I am in the bathroom washing my hands and it hits me: I haven't paid for the metro yet. I bought a ticket. But, having ridden it twice so far, I haven't encountered a machine or anything asking me for said ticket. I've just walked onto platforms and gotten onto trains. Huh.
22.27 I hop in the taxi that the Brasserie called for me and I am on my way to gay la-la (aka "Macho Sauna" on rue Marché au Charbon)
23.54 I am a HOTTIE in Brussels, apparently. I walked into the club and was quickly involved with a threesome in the sauna, a foursome in the steam room, and had to put a hot but crazy power bottom in his place for just being super uncool. Now I'm leaving, having been invited to a party.
01.03 So the party is a bunch of hot guys sexing, smoking and other-ing. But I'm D.A.R.E.-ing, so just watching. Well, mostly just watching. But still D.A.R.E.-ing. W00t, Brussels.
02.21 I tell Loic, the forever-tan French-Arabic guy who's throwing the party (and who invited me) that I need to get a street waffle before I go/it's too late. There goes my sex party cred.
02.23 Loic, in his typical French animated fashion, is mimicking me tip-tapping this log.
03.34 The party having ended, Loic took me on a quick tour of the city. We hit everything I'd already seen. Man, Brussels is tiny! And he's letting me crash for a few hours before I have to leave for my train. On the tour I decided not to take the waffles that were available. I'll look again in the morning. Evidently I am just an easy 10min walk from the train station.
04.40 Thoughts: Loic, you're crazy hot, but I'm more tired than you are hot. Lights out, buddy!
04.58 Ok, now lights out.
06.45 The alarm that Loic graciously (it is his Sunday morning, too, after all) set for me goes off. I feel like I didn't get any sleep at all (he's a French ronfleur [I am making that word up]).
07.03 Loic breaks my heart when he tells me the only gauffres available at this hour will be in the train station, not on the street. Someone should have been clearer last night (read: 3hrs ago).
07.06 Ah, the cool, crisp, breath-condensing Brussels morning!
07.22 I stumble onto the setting up of a marché aux puces. Looks mostly like a lot of uneven deals on off brand tube socks.
07.35 I contemplate getting a waffle at Häagen Dazs (lame, I know, but I gotta get something!), when I decide to check the time. "Schweet," I think, "20min. Wait, what time is my train?" With horror I realize that my 07.55 departure time is actually 07.43. Walk. Faster.
07.42 I board the train.
07.44 The train departs.
And that was Brussels.
Thursday, June 05, 2008
Tuesday, June 03, 2008
Monday, June 02, 2008
Sunday, June 01, 2008
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
|Septimus Warren Smith 2.1|
I went to an Ivy League undergrad.
I go to a top NYC law school.
I date men (well...).
I live in Bed-Stuy.
I don't need more to say,
just more room to say it.
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