Wednesday, April 14, 2010

In Europe Part 1: Paris & Brussels

I've been wandering around a few major cities in Europe this past week and a half. I started off with Paris. I have been to Paris a few times before however, this time was particularly awesome since my Dad was with me. We visited all the important sites: Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Versailles, Arc de Triomphe, and Notre Dame. We also made our way to a few other sites like Baby The Stars Shine Bright, Jim Morrison's grave, and The American Legion in Paris. Sadly our first few days there were rainy. I naturally used this as an excuse to buy myself a BTSSB umbrella... I also grabbed myself a pair of socks and a little bag.

Once the lack of umbrella problem was fixed, it stopped raining. I'm certainly not complaining about that. While there was a lot of new things discovered for my Dad in his first days in Europe, Paris provided me with no new culture shocking experiences other than French Pizza not being all terrible. I suppose the one thing that really did surprise me the gigantic crowd around the Mona Lisa at the Louvre.

Across from the Mona Lisa is a huge painting probably 100 times the size of the Mona Lisa. It was strange to see so many people flocking around such a small painting while behind them there was a great painting that most people wouldn't even be able to fit in their homes. While the paintings were great and all, I really prefered the statues and the basement where you could see some of the original infrastructure of the building dating back to 1100 AD if I remember correctly.

How Shocking!

From Paris we went to Brussels. I was rather surprised at how small the place was. We saw just about everything in one afternoon. The Grand Place was very beautiful, especially at night.

Brussels is also home to the best ice cream I have ever had. I had Speculoos, vanilla, and straciatella ice cream. While the vanilla was amazing, the fact that Speculoos ice cream had Speculoos in it made it my favorite. While straciatella is one of my favorite candies, I was disappointed by the ice cream because while it was still great, it just didn't compare to the other two ice creams or actually eating straciatella. We also made our way to the Manneken Pis which was sadly not dressed up. I heard a tour guide telling its group that when it is dressed up it pees beer instead of water as usual.

While in Brussels, we also went to Autoworld. While I'm not a big car person, it was a really neat little museum. Everything was in chronological order. As someone who alphabetizes anything with text, I appreciate order. They also had prototypes and working models of several more recent cars such as those adorable little smart cars you see everywhere (at least in Europe). They also had a few old carriages such as Napoleon's wedding carriage. It was quite an impressive collection of cars and motorcycles (among a few other vehicles). My personal favorite was the Amphibicar from the 1970's that you could actually use as a boat in addition to driving it on the road. I've seen the tour bus/boats that do this too, but I think the idea that this car being available to the general public was really neat. I wonder if you needed a boating license to go cruising in the water with it...

As someone who doesn't eat mussels or drink beer, I was quite fond of Brussels despite it not having a whole lot to do outside of bars and museums. It's a nice little place although the variety of languages being spoke can be confusing. I, myself, was never sure whether to speak to people in English or in French. I did get to see a man that was too drunk to move sleep in the middle of a somewhat busy street. I thought he was dead at first... Then the driver got out of his car and moved the drunk man to the sidewalk and continued on his way. I loved how none of this seemed to be anything but commonplace here. In part 2, I'll be talking about the second half of my trip through Europe to both Amsterdam and London.

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