I arrived in Brussels around 3:30pm today and it was nearly 5pm before I got to my hotel. My first instinct was to collapse in to bed, but I decided that I should at least enjoy an hour or so walking around town. I am so glad that I did!
I walked from my hotel towards the city center. Being Christmas Day, I expected the city to be semi deserted and everything to be closed. Based on my knowledge of German Christmas markets, I also figured that I was too late to enjoy any of the Belgian ones. My expectations were wrong, very very wrong.
I walked through town and it was lit up and beautiful. I love the way European cities decorate themselves for the holidays. It's always gorgeous.
I was absolutely surprised when I stumbled upon the Christmas market, active and fulll of people.
There was live music, food, and even outdoors ice skating.
I also exerienced some great examples of human kindness and passion. I saw a girl bring a homeless guy a candied apple, which put a smile on his face.
As I continued walking around, I realized I was a bit peckish. Rather than eat a full meal, I decided to have two Belgian traditions: waffles and chocolate. I am generally not a waffle fan, but this one was hot, sweet and simply amazing. The chocolate I chose was a chili-chocolate that got melted into steamed milk to make a hot chocolate drink. It was nice as well. I didn't have any fries, but I did see the fry guy.
I saw a homeless man, dressed in a tattered Santa suit, giving candy out to kids who passed him by.
I also watched a peaceful protest parade through the streets. Although their chants and signs were in French, I got the basic gist of it, "the maladies of ignorance". Most of the participants were of African descent and I think it may have been a reaction to police killing of African-Americans in the USA. It was a very peaceful march.
I really enjoyed my evening walking around Brussels.