Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Car free Sunday. Brilliant!

So last weekend was yet another random holiday. The Belgians truly know how to celebrate the good life and Spring. Friday night was spent at all the usal places down town. I’ll take the time to finally and conclusively name my favorite beer, Delirum Tremens. That’s right the 9% beverage of choice. Plus at Delirum (the bar with the most beers in the entire world) it’s the house drink and only 3 euros. Don’t think about how many dollars that is. After Dellirum there was some unsuccessful bar hopping that ended was it always should, Fritland! My official favorite fritery. If you are ever in Brussels go to Fritland (only after a few beers or your stomach can’t take it) and order the Special. Frits+Maynase+Ketchup+Grilled Onions = HEAVEN. Sitting in Grand Place taking in the buildings, eating frits, and reliving the last 4 months with the best people I could have asked for made for an excellent Friday night.

Me in Delirium with an (empty) Tremens Glass

Papas frits in Grand Place

Saturday evening was a massive free concert. The city set up a huge stage in the square outside the Palace of Justice. I met up with a group of friends and danced like mad to electronic piano bliss. Okay, he kind of sounded like Cold Play. That didn’t stop it from being awesome or me from rocking my face off. I had such a good time dancing. Every five minutes I would look around and realize that I’m standing in front of a massive palace in Belgium. Perfection. After the concert we did some more bar hoping and sipped beers until early morning at a indoor/outdoor café.

Garret, Me, and Stephanie waiting for the concert to start

Freaking out during the 4th encore

Here is where Belgian brilliance for the weekend really kicks in. Sunday was officially Car-Free. From 7am-7pm no car are allowed on the streets downtown. Just buses and police. People ride their bikes and wonder through the streets undaunted by the normally whizzing traffic. The city also sponsors djs and music all day. We met a group around 3 to wonder and see what we could find. We eventually came upon a giant dj set up outside a palace (I forget which one). They laid grass over the cobblestone so you could sit down or dance barefoot. it was bout 75 degrees and we all danced and worshiped the sun to techno and cold beer. Around 6 we went back to my place to regroup and grab some food. Then we were off to what we thought was a Beetles cover band on the main stage. Unfortunately, the Beetles set was just ending. Next was an Abba tribute band….. I couldn’t take the sounds. We retreated back to the DJ and danced some more palace side. Basically it was the perfect weekend in the sun, in a city that has come to life. Finally.

No cars!
DJ Lady Jane
Elena and I chillin in the sun on fake/real grass
The Crazy (awesome) guys dancing next to us
Litwinka jamin to Lady Jane

More photos

Now it's exam and good bye Belgium time. A few more days and then Mom and I are off to Spain. I'll do a sappy good bye recap later. This post should just be a tribute to a beautiful weekend in the sun.

Monday, May 5, 2008


The last five days have been some of my best in Belgium, and maybe even the best since I’ve been in Europe. Last Thursday and Friday were public holidays so we had no class, and the whole city finally relaxed a little to stop, smile, and take in the sun. Honestly the city looks completely different in the sun. After months of gray and rain the green, flowers, and sun was the exact remedy for the Belgium gloom.

I had three term papers due last week so for a week solid I was writing and cursing VECO for their lame education. However, all three papers taught me something and now I realize they weren’t the worst topics in the world. My last paper was turned in by Wednesday afternoon so that left me time to nap and prepare for a celebratory night out. My housmates and I decided to get all dress up, as opposed to our normal slobby college student garb, and go out. We meet up at a friends house and then we went downtown to Mappas, a really chill Cuban bar. After a round we were off to a Irish bar/ disco for happy hour. My friends host moms (awesome lesbian couple Elsa and Iria) met up with us to dance. Then they took us off to another disco and we twirled the night away. By 4:30am I was ready for food and home, but Elsa and Iria wanted to keep going. I just couldn’t keep up haha. I went off for a Kabab snack and then home.

Thursday was May 1st which is labour day. The socialist party was out in full force and threw a party just down the street from my house. Lauren, Elena, and I joined in and danced to awesome jam bands with horn sections. I wore my bright red hat and enjoyed just people watching. I stood and took in this scene that could never happen in the United States. It felt like I was breathing in freedom, and thoughts of the US felt claustrophobic.

Party in front of St. Catherine's

The Internationals (I danced so hard)

Friday I woke up early and caught a train to Amsterdam. I was suppose to spend the weekend there with Keziah, but it didn’t work out. Now I think it was for the best because I had such a good time on my own and in Brussels. I hit the streets by noon and wondered. The city is completely different in the sun. People everywhere just basking and taking in the day and all the sights. After finding the perfect coffee shop I went to a sidewalk café and ate a beautiful lunch in the sun as I watched the spectacles of Amsterdam street traffic. Then I was off to wonder some more. Sat in squares, along canals to write and just breath in this city. By 8pm I was on the train back to Brussels completely contented with life.

Amsterdam in the Sun

Saturday I woke up early to catch a train to southern Belgium. 12 of us went kayaking. At first it felt like any other float trip I’d ever been on. But when we turned a bend and there was a vertical rock face with a castle on top I had a “We’re not in Kansas anymore” moment. Just gorgeous. It was a moment that I will never forget. It was perfect and I felt like I was in a fairy tale. It was mostly locals and boy scouts on the river. We seemed to be the only ones so impressed with this sight. After all, the castle was there before them and will outlive them. Americans don’t realize what old is. By the end of the trip we were exhausted but so happy to have this once in a life time.

Me in Kayaking gear


Sunday gave us yet another perfect day. I went to the open air market to pick up some gifts to take home. Then we were off to our favorite park for some lounging. The park was full of families and couples. Spring was in the air and so was romance and beauty. I was contented to simply sit and take in yet another unforgettable moment in Brussels.



De park

My head want to explode this weekend was so much fun. My days in Belgium are on a count down now, but I’m going to get the most out of each one of them.

Love from Brussels,
Amanda Mar