December 10 - Snow Day

Everyone woke up late, as Justin was the first awake, at 09:10.  We got cleaned up, slowly.   Justin formulated a tentative plan for the day, all places within close proximity to the house since it was supposed to rain.  There were a number of various museums and sites to the northeast.  Crystal and Justin each did some Duolingo - French (Justin), Hungarian (Crystal).  Our stomachs were growling, so we went to lunch first.  Justin had found Le Lakaam, a Cameroonian Restaurant, just a few blocks from the Airbnb.  

He had read several reviews, and from this assumed language would be an issue, and also assumed we wouldn’t be able to understand a good chunk of the menu.   From the reviews, and based on Crystal indicating she wanting the goat, we ordered Chevre (which we knew was grilled goat), Poulet DG (not sure exactly what it was when we ordered, but it was grilled chicken mixed with plantains and vegetables in a sauce), Ndole Boeuf (also not sure what it was when we ordered, but it was creamed greens with pieces of meat here and there), rice, and pommes frites.  The goat preparation and presentation reminded us of how the lamb would come prepared in Uzbekistan.  Justin asked about jollof rice, but they had no clue what he was talking about.  Everything was really good, and really filling, to the point we couldn’t finish everything, although we almost finished the goat.  We left around 13:00.

When we walked outside we realized it was snowing.  This was the first sustained snow we’d experienced since the Atacama Desert in 2008.  [We got a smidge of snow on Christmas Day in Vienna, 2018.]  It was a 10 minute walk to the Natural History Museum.  Inside, the first thing we saw was a Giant T-Rex, one of the largest intact skeletons anywhere in the world.  There were plenty of interactive exhibits nearby, including one where Justin outran a digital T-Rex on an actual exercise bike.  [This probably wasn’t the best idea right after lunch.]  Nearby there was an enormous room with a ton of other dinosaurs, including a triceratops.

We also walked through a room with a chronological progression through the various periods of earth, how life changed, what adapted, what took precedence, what went extinct, etc.  After that we went through several rooms with life-sized figures of various animals across the world, with electronic touch screens where you could pull up information in several different languages.  Then we walked through multiple rooms regarding human evolution, information on the various precursors to Homo sapiens, how humans develop through their lives (e.g., baby proportions versus adult proportions are striking).  We just kept going and going; we were there until about 16:00.  It was so late that we didn’t have time to go out to the Art and History Museum, or the Triumphal Arch.  We instead took a short walk to the EU Parliament buildings, then headed back to the Airbnb.  All day, we never got more than about 10 minutes from the house.  The city of Brussels is enormous, far bigger than we had expected.  

We got back to the house around 16:30, in time for Crystal’s Hungarian class at 17:00.  She takes classes on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and she’d now shown up to consecutive classes in Trier, Cologne, and Brussels, which her teacher got a kick out of.  While she was taking class, Justin found a tapas restaurant, not far from the Airbnb, that had stellar reviews.  We went there shortly after Crystal’s class ended.  It was snowing outside, and it had apparently been snowing for a while, as there was a layer of white everywhere.

The walk in the snow was nice (neither we nor Beverly really had any experience doing that), and it was less than 10 minutes to the Spanish place.  To our surprise, they had no availability.  The host told us about some other restaurants in the general vicinity, but we decided it might be better to be closer to home if the snow on the ground got icy and slick, so we decided to eat at London Calling, since the food we’d had there was good and other things looked good on the menu.  So we walked right past our place on the way to London Calling.  They had plenty of tables, but we decided to sit at the bar again.  

It was not nearly as busy as the past two days.  We chatted with the 4th person at the bar, a guy formerly from Palo Alto, but who has been living in Belgium for 13 years now.  He told us that he has no regrets, whatsoever, about moving abroad.  He told us to go to Ghent instead of Bruges, as it was - in his opinion - better in every way.  After he left, we made reservations for the tapas restaurant the next evening, then we chatted with Ahmed quite a bit.  We liked the music being played (Outkast, Radiohead, Cake, Portishead), and figured it was from the son, but it was actually from Ahmed.  Apparently he ran a music shop with his brother for 20 years prior to having his bar and now restaurant.  We found out he was originally from Morocco, and he was shocked we’d been to Chefchaouen.  He was also surprised we’d been to all 7 continents - he said we were the first people he’d met that had visited all 7.

For food, Crystal got a steak, Beverly got a collection of croquettes, and Justin got the carbonnade with frites.  Everything was excellent.  We got 4 rounds and Beverly got 3.  Justin’s foot was doing better today (hopefully he wasn’t tempting fate), and he said he’d drink water to cover the booze.  We stayed for about 3 hours, then went home.  It wasn’t snowing any more, just a light rain, and a good chunk of the snow had already melted and/or been washed away.   We hoped nothing would freeze overnight.  We went to sleep around midnight.  We hadn’t strayed very far from the Airbnb today, but we’d stayed dry, and we’d eaten and drank very, very, well.

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