Day 26 was a travel day with a twist. We booked bus tickets to make the short trip from Amsterdam to Brussels, Belgium. We had to split up on the crowded bus. Viktoria landed a front seat next to a lady who watched Harry Potter on her laptop. I got stuck next to a fussy baby and a giant Spaniard who, despite his best efforts, took a quarter of my seat along with his. About 10 minutes in, the driver announced that we’d be delayed about an hour due to construction.
All in all, the bus ride turned out OK. The gentle giant offered me a swig from his water bottle about halfway through the journey (which I politely declined). The fussy baby stopped crying and spent most of the journey sleeping while his young mother thumbed through her Bible. The driver announced that he’d found a detour and we’d only have a slight delay.
Once in Brussels, we turned to the business of finding our hotel and then finding food. No trip to Belgium is complete without trying waffles, frites (don’t call them french fries), local beer and handmade chocolate. We arrived during the dunch hours (halfway between lunch and dinner), so breakfast food seemed like a logical way to start checking items off the list.
Waffle cafe Peck 47 was packed on a Saturday afternoon and there was no waiting list. Seating was divvied up kill-or-be-killed style; if you see a table empty, grab it before someone else does. We ordered two savory waffles, topped with melted cheddar cheese and something called Psycho Sauce, along with two local craft beers. Everything was delicious!
We walked around the old city center for a bit, then crossed off the next item on the must-eat list. Frites may seem like french fries to the uninitiated, but there’s an art to Belgium’s favorite snack. The potatoes are sweet and yellow and are fried twice, leaving the inside soft and potato-y and the outside golden and crispy. They’re always served in a paper cone with plenty of salt and a standard choice of a dozen-and-a-half sauces. The frites at Fritland were probably the least-good of the ones we tried in Brussels, but we’re still better than most french fries I’ve ever had.
We finished up the day at the highly-recommended and very crowded Moeder Lambic, a craft beer bar featuring mostly Belgian-made brews. We tried a Troubadour Magma (a hoppish blonde), a Noir de Dottignies (a dark ale) and a Monk’s Stout (an imperial stout). Verdict: Belgian beers are the best we’ve had in Europe (but still not as good as Oregon beers!).
Frites… check! Waffles… check! Beer… check! Chocolate would have to wait for another day.
More Photo of the Day posts from our January-March 2016 trip to Europe