With just a morning left to enjoy our favorite city (I think we will be saying that as we leave every new city), Laura and I headed out for the day. Morning commuters, suits, briefcases and all, passed us swiftly on two wheels (the bike lanes are much more crowded than the actual streets). We were on a mission to find YoughurtBarn, the breakfast joint Google convinced us, without too much prodding, to try. Upon arrival, which was about 8:05am, we noticed that the lights were off and the restaurant was closed. The place didn’t open until 9. Again I was reminded that the early bird is still early in Amsterdam if it is up before 10. We settled for a coffee shop a little way down the road. I ordered a macchiato and was very confused when the barista handed me a shot of espresso and frothy milk. Apparently Starbucks misled my order. A block or so down the road we stopped at a joint with actual breakfast food. The place is called Gout. I never thought I would say something like this, but man, Gout makes for one mean chai latte. They use coconut as a sweetener and believe me, it is an improvement over the honey or sugar or whatever it is we’ve been using.
After breakfast, we wandered our way to our next museum stop which inspired my newest catch phrase, “Van Gogh away, Laura”. The Van Gogh Museum is modern and clean and efficiently tells the story of one man and his art journey (who would have thought?). I didn’t realize what a genius the man was until I saw how masterfully he could paint distinctly different styles. He is self-taught, self-motivated and self-scrutinized which led to his eventual self-inflicted death. He blended styles and established the unique pseudo-pointillism that he is known for, but could paint vivid traditional portraits, and also has pieces with major Japanese influence. His work is drastically more diverse than I knew, and I don’t think you can understand that until you see his pieces face to face in one sitting. Long story short, we loved the museum. It made our brains happy(we were learning AND actually comprehending), our eyes happy (I mean have you seen his work?) and our nerves happy (we knew exactly where we were and where we needed to be next which was certainly a welcome change of pace).
I am used to asking permission before I do anything, really. I am, in just about every facet of life, a rule abiding citizen. Neither are bad things per se, but my brain complicates travel, particularly in train stations. My heart was pounding with the concern of screwing up and getting kicked out or our tickets revoked. We went through a ticket turn style to a platform waited 30 minutes for the train. We on board for a good 15 minutes before anyone asked for any sort of ticket (or in our case Eurail Pass). That said, I feel like thinking you broke at least 3 rules or expectations is completely justifiable. Those 15 minutes before our passes were checked, I was convinced we were on the wrong train. The word “Brussels” on the door was apparently not explicit enough for me.
The taxi men waiting outside of the train station in Brussels figured we were Americans and asked us about Trump. That's the second time we have been asked about him. What's so interesting to me is how Europeans know my president's political philosophy (or at least the international media's interpretation of it). Until we wondered through the city a bit, I didn't really even register that French is their national language of Belgium. I guess the U.S. is more influential (and egocentric to a degree) than I thought.
I just have to take a moment and share a photo with you of our beautiful Airbnb. The apartment is down an alley a block away from the old church featured above and courted by trendy outdoor bars. I have never felt so suave in my life. It does feel quite a bit like I would imagine France to be, but alas, I've never been there so I could be incredibly off. Our room itself is white and chrome and modern. Its "cool factor" makes up for the impracticality of not having a shower door and/or curtain. Eh, when in Belgium, I guess.
After a bit more wandering, we decided it was past time to eat dinner. We, again, sought out Google and found what we thought was a joint that was about 2 minutes away called Lola. Lola is a sophisticated, posh restaurant and when we walked in and asked to be seated we realized we had just committed to being sophisticated and posh. Only problem, the wine menu made zero sense. So we settled for just water (which very much confused the waitress) and were brought out what I thought was cinnamon whipped topping to sample. You can imagine the surprise I had when I tasted the pudding textured mix and realized that the french accent can make "salmon" sound a whole lot like "cinnamon". Regardless of that mild mishap, we ordered the most incredibly food, bread and butter, lemon and parmesan linguine, made complete with creme brûlé. Not a bad start to a new city.