We’re Off!

Brussels, Belgium

We make it to the starting line in London’s lush, historic Hyde Park. Barely. Eleventh-hour car repairs lasted until noon, meaning Mr. Dinosaur doesn’t reach the starting line until 12:59 p.m.—one minute before the race is about to begin.

After crossing the English Channel in a train that carries both us and our cars, we motor through France and end up in Brussels at dusk. Today is Belgium’s independence day. The city is packed with traffic, people, and a festival complete with a Ferris wheel. We steer past the hullabaloo, ending up slightly outside the city center. It’s 11 p.m. We’re starved.

“Just park anywhere!” I plead to Andrew. He slides into a spot on a side street, in front of a cafĂ© filled with manly men chomping on hunks of meat between bread. The place is called Emirdag Koflescisi, and its specialty is the kofte sandwich.

I order three, by extending three fingers.

The older man, Dad, springs into action, throwing a dozen lamb patties on the grill. Younger, Son, splits and toasts massive boats of bread. The meat is transferred to the crisp bread, along with spicy peppers, lettuce, and tomato.

“Hothothothothothot,” I say, my mouth crammed with kofte, gulping water.

“Slow down, camel,” says Mims.