I now wake up and have to think where I am in the world…I have now been travelling for about 5 weeks now and it has been truelly amazing. I am loving all these adventures. Each trip has been very unique and so special. The countries are becoming a little bit enmeshed within eachother but I’m trying to savour each moment!
After Cinque Terre (if you haven’t read all about Mich and my trip to CT, you need to do that NOW!!!), I stayed with Mich on Sunday and Mon nite ( we had the most delish homecooked dinner – fig and rocket salad is the best) and then Tues morn, Mich and I took a tube into town. Can you believe, that that was the day that the train people decided to strike so George had to drop us at the tube station rather than us taking a train.
I got out at6 WAterloo and boarded the Eurostar to Brussels. What a pleasure…no popping ears, use of cellphones throughout, quiet, effecient and speedy – what a way to travel!! Within 2 hours, I had arrived in Bruxelles Midi. I met Eric at the station and we got conned by an evil taxi driver who charged us 26 Euros for taking us a block or two (he definitely went a round about route). Our hotel – St Nicolas – was very central – not exactly the Hilton but at 65 Euro a night, you can’t really go wrong. The only problem was that the one window was halfway up the wall so there was only a tiny slither of light and fresh air coming into the room.
The most amazing thing was that Lara Nicolson lived in Belgium for 3 years and then her and her hubbie, Roger, moved to the US. I was most upset that I never got to experience their professional tour guiding in Belgium. BUT…as it happened, Lara, Roger and there gorgeous little girl Erin, happened to be holidaying in Belgium at the same time we were there!! So Lara met us at the hotel and she took us around the city (started off with frites (chips) at a traditional Belgium pub), Grande Place, Royal Gallery shops, Mannekin Pis (the little weeing boy statue which is pretty tiny) and the SAublon area with the most yummiest choc shop – Pierre Marconi.
Talking about choc shops, I am amazed how many chocolate boutiques there are here….I am in heaven. Can you believe, that I may actually be chocolated out after 3 days of Belgium choc (Shock, horror, can it be possible!!!). There are some of the well known choc houses like Godiva and the ones I haven’t heard of – Neuhas, Leonides and tons of others. We’ve tried many pralines in shapes of mice, Egyptian mummies, shells and flowers. The drak choc here is very yum.
Other gourmet specialities include really yummy waffles ( we got our best one from a waffle caravan), hot chips with mayo and fruit beer (I tried cherry flavour called Kriek). Belgium beer is plentiful and you get a glass branded with the beer that you ordered. We past a pub which boasted serving over 100 Belgium beer varieties…there glass collection must be amazing.
In the night we tried a Moroccan restaurant recommended by Lara..called Casbah – very sultry decor and good food (tagines and couscous).
The next morning, we took an hop on- hop off bus and got off at the atomian…which is this giant structure made up of 9 silver atom things joined together. It was built for the 1958 world fair and they only have just reconstructed it. You can visit 5 out of the 9 atoms…with the one being reserved for private functions and another for school kid sleepovers (I was keen).We then took a high speed lift to the top atom where we had a snack with a great view over Brussels.
We then took the bus back to town and we treated ourselves to a rich hot choc and a luscious choc cake. We also walked around the shopping areas and went into one or twi stores to take a closer look.
The Belgium people are generally pretty friendly and all seem to speak English (a relief after Italy)…..