Monday, December 09, 2013

BAM!: Brussels Day 1 (Saturday)

Prior BAM! posts:

On the afternoon of Friday September 20, Chandler and I orally contracted with a livery driver to take us to O'Hare.  When we arrived, Gregerson, Colleen, and Bonham were awaiting us at a Chili's.  The Bud Light I had there would be the weakest beer I would drink for the next ten days.  Goodbye, American beer, you fucking bitch.  Hello, Belgian beer, you fucking bitch.

The flight from O'Hare to Brussels was quite pleasant, as the in-flight entertainment provided me more than enough options to keep myself busy for nearly eight hours.  I watched an awesome Showtime documentary on the history of the Sunset Strip, most of Dr. Strangelove (I say "most" because I nodded off a few times during it), and Pretty in Pink for the first time.  That Ducky is so irrepressible!

Clear skies and mild temperatures greeted us as we touched down in Brussels on Saturday morning.  We trained it to our hotel, where we met up with Daniel, who had come to Brussels a day earlier than the rest of us, presumably to scout locations for his next film, Anal Plunderers 46:  Belgian Chocolate.

We left our stuff at the hotel, since it was still before noon, and our rooms weren't ready yet.  The first day on a European trip –- especially one that is entirely based on drinking beer -- is always the toughest because, to avoid jet lag, you have to stay up all day.  What kept me going was Jean-Claude Van Damme's then-recent Go Daddy commercial.  It's go time.

First thing on the agenda?  Belgian waffles.  We literally went to the closest Belgian waffle restaurant –- the aptly named Gaufre de Bruxelles, which, loosely translated, means "the benevolent gopher from Brussels."  No one was disappointed, even the people who got bananas on their waffles.
From there, we wandered around central Brussels, including a walk through the famed Grand Place, a gorgeous town square that was almost entirely destroyed by the French army in 1695, only to be rebuilt by various city guilds.  It now houses markets, fairs, ethic dancing demonstrations, and bars. 

At the corner of the Grand Place, in the brewers' guildhall, is a brewing museum.  You can literally learn more by reading the Wikipedia page on brewing than by going to this museum.  It did have a giant beer teat that I suckled.
What it lacks in thoroughness, it makes up for by having a bar in the museum.  With the price of admission (5 Euro), you get two beers.  And get two beers we did.  It was here that we started a BAM! tradition of toasting our first drinks at every new venue in which we drank, and taking a picture of said cheers.

After that, we saw a statue of a kid pissing.  He was wearing a Lithuanian hat and basketball jersey and pissing into a basketball hoop in as elegant a manner as one could expect.

After that, we saw a skeleton with an apple in its crotch, a fantastic play on the classic Flemish apple dick trick.

It was soon thereafter where we discovered that you can walk down the street drinking beers.  Chandler might have already known this, but if he did, he held it back for too long.  It was, after all, about two hours since we had been in town.  We hit up a beer store right off the Grand Place and each got a beer to enjoy while we walked around and tried to guess who was from Flanders and who was from Wallonia.  This might be the best tip jar I've seen, although it is unclear why the word "shut" is in quotation marks.

We wandered back to the center of the Grand Place, where there was a stage set up, on which there was some traditional Lithuanian dancing going on.  The amount of snatch in the audience was almost as unbelievable as the amount of elementary school students drinking beer.

As if traditional Lithuanian dance wasn't enough to freak us the fuck out, these terrifying giant dolls started walking around, presumably with the goal of eating as many drunken Lithuanian kids as possible.

Incapable of handing the situation, we left, in search of lions to hug, gelato, low-end Belgian beer served in cans from a gelato stand, and gothic churches to enter.  We found everything we were looking for.

Feeling a bit haughty, we decided to celebrate with more beer.  Chandler rightly recommended a place called Mort Subite, where we enjoyed some more fine Belgian beer, and plotted our return to the Grand Place to take down those giant child killing dolls.

When we arrived back at the Grand Place, the mood was manic.  The dolls had increased their numbers.  

Half-eaten Lithuanian children were strewn about the square, as the giant dolls pushed themselves into a circle in the middle of the grand Place, daring anyone -- even grown men wearing striped hoodies, red scarves, and man purses –- to challenge them.  All who entered the circle were destroyed.  Except for six Americans with some beer in their veins, bottles in their hands, and some brass knuckles in their fanny packs.  You can imagine our embarrassment when, after breaking six beer bottles over some giant Belgian postman doll's head, we discovered that theses weren't giant dolls at all, but actually human beings wearing costumes.  They weren't trying to eat anyone; they were just there to entertain the crowd.  And those half-eating Lithuanian kids we thought we saw on the ground?  Just cobblestones.  Live and learn!  To celebrate, we grabbed a beer at a nearby beer tent and all had a good laugh.  You know, that giant Belgian postman's lawyer still writes to me from time to time.

By this time, it was getting close to dinner time, so we made our way back to the hotel, freshened up, and fought off the overwhelming urge to lie down.  For dinner, we went to a place called Fin de Siecle, which, loosely translated, means "the end of siecle."  The food was fantastic and pretty reasonably priced.  Several of us ordered stoemp, a traditional Belgian dish that involves sausage, mashed potatoes, and gravy, others ordered rabbit, and others ordered pork shoulder.  Everyone shared, and it was all fantastic.

From there, we went to one of the true Meccas of beer:  The Delirium Café.  You probably know of Delirium Tremens –- the Belgian beer whose combination of deliciousness and ABV have rightly earned it the nickname "the time traveler."  The Delirium Café serves Delirium Tremens.  And over 2,000 other beers.  In fact, it's in the Guinness Book of World Records for having the most varieties of beers.  Nestled in a small, nondescript alley a couple blocks from the Grand Place, The Delirium Café is gigantic inside, with several different floors and bars.  It was pretty packed when we got there, but we found an open giant beer barrel surrounded by chairs on the second floor.

After a few beers there, we were getting somewhat tired, so we headed back to the Grand Place for another beer in one of the many bar patios that line the edges of the Place.  The air was crisp, the mood was light, and the Lithuanian children were long gone, presumably sleeping one off.

After another couple beers (as it turns out, Belgium has many delicious beers), we finally called it a night, having accomplished our goal of staying up until after midnight.  I slept like a baby that night.  A Lithuanian baby.

In the next installment:  the many awesome bars of Bruges, mussels, and more Delirium.

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