Brussels shore excursion: the perfect five-way

A Brussels shore excursion is perhaps among the most-overlooked gay cruise experiences in Europe. Ok, ok, it’s not an ocean port, and the river cruises don’t dock in the center as they do in some other European ports. But the Belgian capital—and indeed the capital of Europe—deserves a visit. It has one of Europe’s grandest and most alluring town squares, the Grand Place.

Brussels Grand Place is not only gorgeous and historic, it's the perfect place to celebrate the EU's embrace of marriage equality! Photo: Randall ShirleyBrussels Grand Place is not only gorgeous and historic, it's the perfect place to celebrate the EU's embrace of marriage equality! Photo: Randall Shirley

Brussels Grand Place is not only gorgeous and historic, it’s the perfect place to celebrate the EU’s embrace of marriage equality! Photo: Randall Shirley

Add in a collection of fun gay bars, and very-friendly gay locals. My husband and I enjoyed all of those aspects. But what we enjoyed most about Brussels was the perfect five-way. Get your mind out of the gutter (or not), the five-way in Brussels is the four foods for which Belgium is known, plus YOU. And none of them disappoint! Add them up and you get the perfect Brussels shore excursion.

Belgian Beer

OMG! Neither of us is a big beer drinker, but we loved Belgian beers. We fought our way to a table at a touristy bar called Little Delirium (eventually, fully appropriate!), and asked our server, a lovely woman named Kinga who is now a Facebook friend (she was that good), to bring us flights that included a variety of types, colors, and alcohol contents. Kinga delivered, and we sipped the beers as if they were fine wines…bullshit, they were so good we knocked them back and ordered another flight!

We asked our sever and bartender to come up with a "flight" of Belgian beers. Perfection. And we ordered another round! Photo: Randall Shirley

We asked our sever and bartender to come up with a “flight” of Belgian beers. Perfection. And we ordered another round! Photo: Randall Shirley

Belgian chocolate 

Where to begin? Any chocolate shop, that’s where! Central Brussels has no shortage, and the window displays range from the highly-sophisticated to smooth-and-chic marketing. We visited a bunch. And we sampled a bunch. And we came home with suitcases-full of Belgian chocolates for our, um, friends and neighbors. Yeah, as if. I’m not going to tell you which Belgian chocolatier was my favorite, because they were all of such phenomenal quality. Just go eat some already!

Fries

Belgians invented pomme frites. That should be all I need to say about it. There are tons of places to eat fries in Brussels. Try a couple. Ultimately they’re just fried potatoes, but when there’s an mid-last-millenium town square nearby they just seem to taste better.

Belgian Waffles

The first time I tasted a true Belgian waffle was, strangely, atop Whistler Mountain during their legendary Winter Pride gay ski week. That dense-fluffy-chewy-sweet ridiculous goodness tastes extra good in Brussels. You can find waffle shops everywhere in central Brussels. Personally, I prefer a “plain” waffle—just me, the cooked dough, and the love affair inside my mouth.

In Brussels there is chocolate EVERYWHERE! Including these uniquely shaped bits. And it's all freaking delicious. Photo: Randall Shirley

In Brussels there is chocolate EVERYWHERE! Including these uniquely shaped bits. And it’s all freaking delicious. Photo: Randall Shirley

Sampling Belgian waffles in Brussels is an outstanding way to spend a bit of your Brussels shore excursion time! Photo: Randall ShirleySampling Belgian waffles in Brussels is an outstanding way to spend a bit of your Brussels shore excursion time! Photo: Randall Shirley

Sampling Belgian waffles is an outstanding way to spend a bit of your Brussels shore excursion time! Photo: Randall Shirley

Brussels offers an abundance of other delights—did I mention Belgian men? But you can be forgiven if, like me, your perfect foursome is actually a fivesome of beer, chocolate, fries, and waffles…and you!

*The author paid for his own travel to Brussels.