Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Belgium, part 1 of 2

A couple of weeks ago we went to Belgium and we really enjoyed our long weekend doing all "Belgian" things.  We arrived in Brussels late on Thursday night so our our adventures started on Friday morning which was a holiday so most of the things were closed and we went to get Belgian waffles for breakfast. There are two different kinds of Belgian waffles - Liege and Brussels.  Liege is just a straight up waffle that you get for 1 euro and is my absolute favorite and has been since I lived in Brussels 10 years ago.  Brussels waffle comes with fancy toppings - whipped cream, fruit, Nutella, etc.  Ilya and Anton both love chocolate while Andrei loves Nutella.  Unfortunately, I was too busy eating to take any pictures :(

Many people don't think that Belgium has a lot of things to see but if you look you can find lots of things to do there. 

After our breakfast we ventured to see Mannikin Pis - a statue of a 2 year old boy peeing.  Honestly, it's famous but not that interesting.  Then we it was off to explore Belgium starting with Atomium and Mini-Europe.  Mini Europe is literally what it sounds like - all the highlights of the European Union in miniature.  It's pretty cool and very child friendly with some interactive elements where boys got to push buttons to make windmills go in Netherlands, run in place to play cops and robbers in London, jump on a platform to make Pompeii explode, etc.

We, then, went to Ypres Salient which is World War I museum and trenches that have not been changed.  The museum itself is really small and most of the people who go there come with school groups (which is how I learned about it - my history teacher took us there when I was studying in Brussels) but it's really "cool" to see what actual trenches looked like and what people lived in for 3 years of their life.  It's one thing to read about the history but it's completely different to walk through it.  After WWI trenches, we went to see Atlantic Wall but unfortunately arrived 5 minutes to late.  We decided to come back the next day since we really wanted to go inside and see what World War II trenches looked like, especially after seeing WWI.  Thankfully, right outside of the museum, there was an open air coffee/beer garden where adults get to sit and enjoy their coffees and beers while kids are on the playground that is visible from the tables.  You can also get food there but we just opted for some hot chocolates that were amazing since we knew exactly what we wanted for dinner - mussels and frites.  We decided to try our luck in Brugge which is on our way back to Brussels.  Success and success - we ordered 2 normal adult dinners of mussels plus one lunch sized mussel dish and meatballs with mashed potatoes for Andrei and Anton.  Well, clearly Lusha could of probably had an adult AND a lunch portion of mussels all to himself.  It was hilarious to watch as he just kept eating them and when everything was gone, he really could of had more!  Watching all this mussel feast, even Andrei had a good ladle of mussels along with his new favorite - frites (french fries) with mayo.

Brugge itself is a beautiful old city where there is not much to do but walk and enjoy the old views and old buildings.  Something that our boys don't really appreciate is old architecture but they are much more willing to walk when they are either looking for ice cream or eating it!

Atomium in the  background

Sacre Coeur

My British Royal Guard with a huge smile

Grand Place, Brussels

Example of street signs in Brussels, and yes - we got lost a number of times :)

Bounce house on the playground.  Boys just got lucky that it was rather empty but no supervision present

Mussel feast

Crater from WWI bomb

WWI trenches

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