Tuesday, December 7, 2010

April 19th, 2010

Monday was a bit cold, more winter than spring, as we walked to the American Embassy.  The entire process was actually pretty fast, and the Consul General spent a few minutes trying to convince me to work for the state department instead of going into academia.  Probably pretty wise counsel..

The American Embassy in Brussels.
Now that my parents could legally leave the country, we went to replace one more vital item that was stolen with my mom's purse: her blood pressure medicine.  Luckily pharmacies in Brussels are as ubiquitous as friteries, and we found one very close to the other.  Nothing like double-fried Belgian french fries to help cancel out the blood pressure meds.

Fun fact: The French Fry is actually a Belgian invention.  Eating fries in Belgium is like eating pizza in Italy: Completely unlike what you find in the states, and incredibly delicious.

After the snack, we had lunch with a man named Marco, a convert from my mission who was all hospitality.  He fed us lunch and showed us around his apartment, which he had being renovating for years.

Marco, the man, the legend
After lunch we returned to the hotel for some well-deserved naps.  We were on vacation, after all.

That evening took us to the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, an enormous church built on an hill overlooking Brussels.  

We walked about in the park beneath it, admiring it for awhile before turning our sights on the next Brussels attraction: The Atomium.

On my mission, I told Sarah that the Atomium was where the King of Belgium resided, ruling over his kingdom from the top ball of the atom.  The true origin story is slightly less exciting.

It was built by André Waterkeyn for the 1958 World's Fair in Brussels. One of the original ideas for Expo '58 was to build an upside-down version of the Eiffel tower; however, Waterkeyn felt that an atomic structure would be more symbolic of the era. The monument was originally planned to remain standing only six months. However, it soon became a symbol not only of the World's Fair, but of modern architecture and Brussels. The monument stayed the same for almost 50 years. The structure is now one of the Brussels main attractions.

You can totally see a king living here, right?

There is a little mini-amusement park expo near the atomium, where my parents satisfied a craving for Chinese food at Asia Garden while I indulged in a cheap and delicious durum kebab.

Kebab shop complete with random Belgian guy standing in front of it


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