Mussels in Brussels is not only a tacky rhyme, it's also a tacky tourist tradition. The front desk clerk at our hotel warned us about the "tourist restaurants" (she hadn't been herself, but was convinced they were purveyors of low quality mussels). She also relayed cautionary anecdotes of previous hotel guests being sick after eating at said restaurants. These establishments are located on Rue des Bouchers/Beenhouwerstraat, near the Grand Place.
The clerk told us that regardless of which restaurant we chose, we had to have mussels while we were in town. We were curious to try them, so we found a few good reviews of Chez Léon on TripAdvisor and knew that it would be in the vicinity of our sight-seeing that day.
The service was the worst we've ever had. The waiter was so incredibly rude, and if we weren't so hungry, we would have left. We really should have left.
Our mussels arrived a few minutes later. We found them to be overrated. It's tempting to blame it on our choice of restaurant, but Chez Léon seems to have a decent reputation (online) for quality mussels. Why do people eat mussels? Is there any particular flavour or texture that is appealing? If so, we didn't experience it.
Since our visit, we have read Anthony Bourdain's 'Kitchen Confidential', and don't think we'll be eating mussels again. (You can see what he has to say about mussels, amongst other things, here.)
Fortunately, the unending supply of sweet desserts in Brussels made us forget all about the gross dinner.
The, very unique, Old England Building used to be a department store. It is now the home to the Musical Instrument Museum, which houses approximately 1500 musical displays. We like to tinker around on our instruments, so this place was particularly intriguing to us .
It would be annoying to visit an instrument museum that didn't provide you with the ability to listen to some music. Thankfully, headphones are handed to each visitor upon entering and they work on a proximity system which activates a sample clip as you stand near each exhibit. It was as cool as it sounds.
The floor that we started on displays many types of harpsichords, pianos, and other stringed music-makers. The sounds generated from some of the older instruments paled in comparison to their intricate designs.
Visiting the museum really made us miss playing with our instruments. We can't wait until we're able to set them all up and start messing around again.
We've always had some regret over missing a planned trip to a drum museum in Tokyo, so when we learned of the Musical Instrument Museum in Brussels we made it a priority.
One future plan of ours includes having a room with a baby-grand piano in it. It'll happen. Someday.
More from the museum tomorrow!
When we weren't eating chocolate, we were drinking it. Brussels has a lot of little cafes that we would duck into when we needed to rest our weary tourist toes. We especially liked this particular coffee shop (unfortunately, the name escapes us...) that had works of art and cartoons on the wall that had been slightly modified. How cute is Tintin with the cup?
As if the waffle itself isn't bad enough for you, adding chocolate, whipped cream, syrupy strawberries, and powdered sugar is enough to give anyone instant diabetes. Brussels actually smelled like waffles. Yes, the city of Brussels smells of waffles. If you walk down the streets, the aroma wafts through the air from restaurants and street vendors making it difficult to deny the temptation (not that we even tried).
Magritte's work is pretty renowned. We both really like 'The Treachery of Images', which we were fortunate enough to see at the LACMA (we snapped a blurry photo, but you can see proper images of it with a simple google search).
While his really famous pieces are in other museums around the world, the museum displays a couple of the "hits" in addition to some lesser known pieces which gave us insight into his entire body of artwork.
After visiting several schlocky "museums" in Cairo, it was refreshing to visit a gallery that appreciated the art enough to showcase it properly. Despite the fact that the exhibits weren't in English, they were very engaging. There was no photography allowed in the museum, so all of these images were taken in the lobby.
Even if you're not a fan of René Magritte, if you're in the area, it's definitely worth checking out. Also, the gift store was similar to that of the large museum stores you'd find in NYC or LA - sometimes the shops are just as fun to visit as the museum itself.