Speed Tour Around Brussels
Trip Start Jul 23, 2008
27Trip End Aug 14, 2008
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Where I stayed
The hour and 15 minute ride went fast. Our car was very quiet with few passengers. We were in first class so we got to have breakfast on the way. The meal was ok; it included yogurt, fruit, croissant, cheese, a drink, and some gnarly meat.
Once we got to Brussels' Gare du Midi, it was a bit confusing as to how to get to our hotel from there. The train station was very clean though, just not user friendly. We paid 10 Eur for a card we used for two days (although we never were sure if we were supposed to use it for 2 days or not--it didn't seem there were any checks and balances for that sort of thing--no turnstiles to go through for instance)
We did finally make our way to the hotel, Brussels Welcome Hotel. We got the Egyptian Room--just what DD had wanted. (Each room is decorated in the decor of a different country or theme from the travels of the owners).
Our room is quite pretty, in midnight blue and gold with a king-size bed, plus 2 rollaways for the kids. There's a large corner couch, a faux fireplace, a teenie tv, a desk, and two comfy chairs. The rug on the floor of King Tut was sorely out of place though. It was cheap and ugly and ruined the elegance of everything else.
The bathroom is huge with a jacuzzi tub and separate shower and wc. All in blue and white, very spectacular looking. We got settled in, and then our friends Mr. A and Ms. Y got there at about 11:30 am. We had them come up for a few minutes for a chat, then we got started on our whirlwind tour of Brussels.
They are very nice people and seemed to take great pride in showing us around, telling us about Brussels and Belgium, and being our hosts. Ms. Y even gave me a beautiful Belgian lace handkerchief with my initial on it. It was so nice of her, and I will cherish it always, and it will be a great reminder of this fun trip.
We first went to the big square, Grand Place, where we had some drinks at one of the outside cafes. I tried a Framboise, which is a girly, raspberry beer. Quite tasty too. The beers in Belgium are often listed by degrees, which is the alcohol content, we learned
We walked all over; saw the royal palace (the king doesn't live there--he just works there), a pretty little park (Petit Sablon), Manneken Pis (aka Julien), the opera house, the rich people's cathedral (currently under renovation), etc.
We went into the store of Brussels' best chocolatier, Pierre Marcolini. We got to sample some, and it was delish! DH bought a big box for our friends to thank them for so kindly showing us around town.
We had lunch together at a typical Belgian restaurant. I had Moules Frites (vin blanc). It was ok, somewhat more bland than what I was expecting. The frites were great. :) And the Belgians really do claim they have the best fries over the French. It was quite funny. We had a great time at lunch.
Mr. A told us about BeNeLux, and how Belgium, The Netherlands, and Luxembourg were the first to band together and unify 30 years ago as a sort of precursor to the EU
At the end of our walking tour, we stopped at another cafe for coffee, and Mr. A and Ms. Y pulled out some Marcolini chocolates to go with it. Yumm! We had a really wonderful time with them, and look forward to seeing them again this fall in Barcelona.
They had to leave at 5 pm to go to a friend's birthday party. These friends of theirs own 2 chateaux in Bordeaux and a vineyard in South Africa. We had been invited to the party as well (!) but it was not in Brussels, but much further out and it was not plausible for us to go and be able to get back to town. Too bad.
We said goodbye and wished them much fun at their party. We exchanged bisoux which I learned in Belgium is *3* kisses. We thanked them for their kindness and generosity.
We went back to the hotel to freshen up and rest a little before going back out. We then did some shopping and just walked around. We found a nice place for dinner. I had Carbonades, which is a Flemish beef stew--it's really tender slow-cooked beef served with, what else, frites. It was excellent and a very traditional dish. Ms. Y had told me about it.
Side Note: She and Mr
DH bought some chocolate at a chocolatier called, Elisabeth. He got a chocolate Manneken pis for his co-workers. Too funny!
Any way, we walked around as long as we could, then went back to the hotel. I turned on one of the lights next to my bedside and, POP!, it blew a fuse apparently. Several of the lights in the room, as well as the metal window coverings that slide down over the outside of the windows, would no longer work. Thankfully, I had already covered two of the windows with the metal covers because it was quite noisy outside.
We had a great, if fast-paced, day in Brussels!