Parade-A-Palooza

We’re not quite sure if you checked out those links from yesterday, but today we found out, they were everything they were cracked up to be. Today we learned two things Belgians don’t play around when it comes to 1) Beer (we already knew this mind  you) and 2) Comics (huh??). This weekend, the first in September saw the clash of two great Brussels festivals, the Belgian Beer Festival and Annual Comic Book Festival. We found these out accidentally over the last few days (usually how most cool stuff happens) and decided to throw ourselves into the middle of all of it. 

We woke up and had a somewhat of a plan in mind. Take the kids to the parade (a treat for them) and then hit up the adult festival (a treat for us). It kind of worked out that way, although we would argue that the kids ended up with the better end of the deal. We plan on making up for that tomorrow. Let me explain…
We woke up bright and early, finally having adjusted to Euro Time, had another hearty breakfast of eggs and ham and headed down to Brussels Royal Park, the grounds of the Belgian Royal Palace. And we were pumped, statues, fountains, a jumpy house, face painting, tons of green space and as we noted the annual Comic Book Festival. There was every kind of character you can imagine from Garfield to Star Wars. The kids had a blast and we ran them till they looked like they were about to pass out. At 10am, you were allowed to help fill up the parade balloons. I’m pretty sure this would have been illegal in America, but in Brussels, all was well as we helped the workers fill up the parade balloons and even got to pull on some of the strings and move the skyscraper characters and help bring them to life. 
After a quick picnic lunch, we decided it was wise to try and catch a nap before the big show at 3PM. Mission successful, we caught the metro back, the kids took a quick cat nap and then we were up and at’em again right back down to the park just seconds before the start of the big show. The kids had front row seats and it was a sight to seat, bands, the balloons we helped fill up, helicopters, drones (a bit weird but cool), cartoon character dress ups, etc., etc. After watching the entire procession pass by and the conclusion of the show, we debated on taking the metro underground or trying to navigate our way above ground to the culmination of the event. We’ve got this Metro pretty much down, so we opted for the train. We hopped a few stops, had a change over and emerged from the tunnel right ahead of the procession once again. We managed to catch the parade twice, now that is good timing!!! This parade was no joke, think of the equivalent of the New York City Macy’s Day Parade, just Belgian style.
After our second wind of parade watching, it was time for some mommy/daddy fun time. We headed into the city center for the Belgian Beer Festival. On arrival, we realized it was Oktoberfest 2012 all over again, as to be expected, people drinking, singing, shouting, dancing, stumbling and more importantly having the time of their lives. And then there we were, 2 kids, 2 strollers, a backpack full of snacks and water and the ambition to mix in with the crowd and become part of the show. We knew from Oktobefest experience that the strollers were not going to cut it, this is close, hand-to-hand combat, not for the feint of heart. What to do with the strollers (I spotted an “I” – Information Checkpoint) and asked the nice people inside if they would babysit our 2 strollers and Mater/Lighting McQueen and Dora the Explorer Balloons while we venture in to the fray. They looked at me as I held Myaln and said, “If you’re going in there, heck yeah we will, just bring us back a beer, we’ve been here all day!” 
So……strollers and balloons checked…..we ventured into the fray with snooty looks from some and looks of shock, awe and delight from others, we got our glass, fought the mass, and ended up under the umbrella of 1 of 50 of Belgium’s best brewerys. I shouted, “This is the beginning of the craziness” and one of the bartenders shouted back, “This is the end of the craziness”. Everyone around laughed, we met people from America, Germany, Ireland and England. A fun time had by all. Because of the hecticness, we decided one was a plenty….carpe diem, we had siezed the day and vini, vici, vidi, we came, we saw, we conquered, but enough was enough for one day. We took our tokens, fought back for the exit and headed home with the mind to get there first thing in the morning for a little more room and a little more enjoyment of our Belgian brews! We finished the afternoon off with a a huddle and first ‘all hands in’, “Team Weatherllllyyyy”, first of this European adventure. 
Lots of more tips in there, which we’ll try to sprinkle in tomorrow, but that’s the good stuff! and it for tonight, we’re hitting the hay and saving some of this energy for a second round tomorrow.

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