The plan today was to explore Brussels: find the fountains, pretty buildings, buy provisions for the train trip to Freiburg. We aced the first two. Despite the disappointment in the female counterpart of the Mannequin Pis (It is tucked in a dead-end alley and surrounded by bars), we had a lovely morning wandering. Vinnie ate a Brussels waffle and preferred it to the one she tasted in Antwerp.
I wanted to keep walking as long as it wasn’t raining. My not-so-secret parenting secret is keep kids hydrated and fed. I was on the look-out for either a grocery or another cozy cafe. Sadly, I wasn’t finding either. The data on my phone didn’t work in Belgium so that wasn’t too helpful.
I decided to walk a different way back to the train station than the one we took yesterday. This route had us go by the Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula and through the botanical garden--both very nice. All was well as we approached Bruxelles Noord from the other side.
Then, the neighborhood felt different. All the sidewalks were quiet outside the tourist area, but this area felt a bit off. Then, I saw them: long tubes of red lights shining in the windows on this Friday afternoon. An instant later, Vinnie chimes, “Mama, I see a real-live lady in the window.”
This was not the plan. When I was in Amsterdam’s Red Light District in October, it was crowded with men on stag weekends and groups of tourists. The Red Light District we stumbled upon today was lonely and sad.
Vinnie suggested we just eat in the train station. Not really my style but neither is introducing a seven-year-old to prostitution.
I bought her a Magic Box at Quick, Belgium’s take on fast food. Thanks for the ice, but I’d stick to waffles, Belgium.