This morning actually started at 10:30 pm last night. Having gone to bed early, Bridgette and I were rudely awakened by the smoke/fire/arbitrary disaster alarm at 10:30 pm. We were probably the only dorks in the whole building asleep by then, but we needed to prepare for our early morning and our big weekend! So, we scrape ourselves out of bed, shove our feet into shoes and make our way downstairs, where there is no alarm, but rather a large number of Nido residents going about their Friday night business as usual. I don't understand this building or its fire codes. Apparently, unlike in America, if one floor of a building has a disaster, the rest of the building gets to remain calm and unaware. Strange.
We eventually did get back to sleep and woke up around 5 am to get us showered, breakfasted, and to the train station by 6:15. Just writing this it feels as if this morning could have been a week ago. We get on the train and assume that it, like the National Rail, operates on the "choose your own seat" basis. It doesn't. We were politely asked to scram. Luckily, our seats were just one car down. We had intended to begin learning lines for The Knight of the Burning Pestle, our newest play project directed by Vivian Munn, but we haven't blocked any of the show yet. It is pretty much impossible to just arbitrarily memorize words that have nothing to do with the action of the scene, especially when you're running on ~6 hours of sleep as we were. I ended up napping the majority of the way there and am completely comfortable with that choice.
We arrived in Bruxelles and spent the next hour and a half trying to find our way from the train station to the Grand Place. This included buying a €4 map/guide book in GERMAN from the train station. The pictures were nice, and I thought the map would be helpful. It was not. After being lost for quite a while between our own guesses and Bridgette's Google Maps directions, we stumbled into a pharmacy to ask for directions. Two women, customers, attempted to point us in the right direction, but only spoke French. I told them right away, in French, that I do not speak French. I don't think they believed me, which I guess makes a little bit of sense. That will teach me not to use my foreign language skills abroad! They were incredibly eager to help, but insisted on going on and on in French and were ultimately completely unhelpful. Once we realized we were lost AGAIN, we dashed into a laundromat to see if anyone could give us a hand. In the end, a very friendly, English-speaking boy about our age walked us 95% of the way to the Grand Place. Thank god. It was incredibly nice of him, and we really needed the help.
By the time we got to the Grand Place, it was time for lunch. We looked at a few restaurants and couldn't decide, but I really needed to use the bathroom (Yes, this is an appropriate thing to discuss here because...). We stumbled into the Mozart Hotel to use the bathroom and found ourselves here:
LUNCH! We decided that anything lunch had to be Belgian waffles, so we got a table at Maison Dandoy. They had a fun menu of 2 different kinds of Belgian waffles, tarts, pancakes, ice cream, milkshakes, etc.
Next stop...the Grand Place for photos and the Museum of the City of Brussels. The Grand Place is beautiful. The architecture is amazing (see below!). The museum was fine. It has information about the formation and development of the city, which would have been interesting, but none of the information plaques were presented in English. To get the information you had to carry laminated papers with you and reference them the whole time. Not really worth the energy, so we just looked around. The many costumes of the Manneken Pis were quite entertaining.