A weekend in Belgium was just enough time for us to taste a dozen different beers, visit two cities, climb through a giant iron molecule, and stroll around the juxtaposition of flemish and french buildings.
Sites: The Atomium in Brussels is an enlarged (165 billion times, I think) iron crystal molecule erected in 1958 for the International Exposition. Fallen into severe disrepair a few years ago, some city officials planned to tear it down, but public outcry kept it standing. Our favorite Brussels neighborhood was the Bourse (stock exchange) area. The pubs were welcoming and warm, with a lively atmosphere and a great meeting spot for friends of all ages.
A highlight of the trip was visiting the small Flemish city of Ghent. Church after church, square after square, I found it a lovely and relaxed place to stroll around and enjoy a beer on the second floor of a tavern overlooking the canal.
Food: Seth tried Stoemp, which is a traditional dish of sausage and thick-sliced bacon over a potato and vegetable mash. I shyed away from it, but opted for another hearty Belgian favorite: spaghetti bolognaise. The fries were delicious, especially accompanied by the special sauces you can only find in the world’s capitol of frites.
There are plenty of jokes about the grey Belgian weather, but we didn’t get caught in a downpour and actually did see some sunlight on a few occasions. March was a good time to visit despite the cold, and we didn’t regret spending St. Patrick’s in Brussels. This crossroads of Europe has a knack for welcoming and appropriating multiple cultures, while managing to maintain its singularity in such a small geographical area, which these two American expats living in Paris appreciated most!