Day four – and home

We went for another walk,to find a museum we hadn’t been to yet, and discovered more of the town. We found lots more statues.

Then – we turned a corner – and came across this…

It was the museum that we had come to see -and unfortunately it was shut! Another day.
We walked back to Sablon and had lunch at the Hungarian restaurant,
and a last look in the shops around the square. When I win the lottery I will be in the Frey Willie shop and spending!
We had a last drink in Le Paraquet (?) then had to practically run back for the train.

The third day – in which we walked

We didn’t get too much sleep as the room was so hot, and when we went down for breakfast we were told it wasn’t included. Luckily I had printed the itinerary which clearly stated breakfast was included, so we went to speak to the receptionist – I said that we weren’t having a very good stay, and were told to put our complaint in writing! Just as we set out for the day we were told that they would change our room – but no apology. Not impressed.

Today we had a lesson in perspective – seeing something which looked close to – but was actually huge and far away- the more you walked toward it the further away it seemed to get. We set out in the pouring rain which luckily stopped after ten minutes. and, for the first time in many visits to Brussels, we saw the canal. The bridge across was guarded by four wonderful statues of .. well .. statuesque women!I loved their fat knees.
The road went through a really run down district – but the houses were still beautiful with wrought iron work and tiling.
We eventually got to the park in front – and as there were two more drops of rain – we took refuge in a bar. (well that was our excuse)
The church was immense – we went inside
and Phil was brave and went right up to the dome in a lift with no sides! He took some photographs from the top, and one of them showed the second visit of the day – the big silver balls – look close don’t they?
Unfortunately we didn’t have a map, so it took good luck and Phil’s wonderful sense of navigation to get us there – and it was a long way! The park around was very crowded and there was a huge queue to go up into the balls. We decided not to go up and went and had a drink instead near a band.
A couple came and sat next to us – they had met at the Expo when the balls had been erected- she was Belgian and he had been a diplomat and was very, very British. They were shocked that we had ‘walked all the way from Brussels’ we had thought we were still in Brussels!
We set off to walk back, again blundering our way navigating by the sun! We stopped and bought another bag on wheels – this time with a proper handle – and eventually got back to the hotel. Before we could collapse I went and negotiated our change of room. It wasn’t much of an improvement!
In the evening we went out and had the best meal of the holiday at the Old Brussels – Phil had the tasting menu and I had lamb and dauphinoise potatoes. Gorgeous.

Brussels Day Two

We had breakfast at the hotel – not wonderful – the hotel was a disapointment altogether. The room was tiny – smaller than a Travelodge – in fact we could have saved our money and been happier at a Travelodge should they ever open in Brussels. The photograph was taken with my back pressed against the wall. The only difference was the rubbish breakfast and a few small pots of shampoo.
Still, Brussels itself was wonderful, and we started Saturday by walking through the Botanic Gardens, where we found a meringue with a cleavage. We weren’t quite sure if she was a real bride or a model – but it seemed that the gardens were THE place to be for brides, as there was another one in the next part of the garden.
We went on to walk through the EU district – absolutely deserted. The buildings were fantastic – we saw this carillion of bells – this ‘red man clashing’ – and two draped women with a mans head on a plate.We found hidden statues behind the theatre in the park, strange statues –
and as always in Brussels, lots and lots of pleaching.
Never stand still in Brussels or you will find yourself with your arms outstretched and strapped to the person standing next to you.
More works of art.
Then I found this cat on a windowsill –
went to stroke him and nearly had my hand bitten off! We carried on walking and passed through an underpass with grafitti –
then past the Manequin Pis – and found him dressed again.
On into the Grand Place and found a seat straight away – luckily, as it was very busy. The band playing was very ‘jazz’ – well obviously, as it was a jazz festival – but this was too – too – cool for cats man.
But we were happy! We left the Grand Place to go up to Sablon – and found my favourite waiter
– he must be following me around. The band were brilliant – as was the audience!
We went up to the Fringale for dinner – to see my other favourite waiter – but he wasn’t there – disaster – had to make do with ogling my husband instead.
We walked back to the hotel, debated going back to the Crowne Plaza – but were just too tired – and so to bed.

Brussels Day one

Taxi Boy took us to Ebbsfleet at an extremely early hour to get us there for the 06:15 train. I’d only had four hours sleep in the last two days as I hadn’t gone to bed after working nights – so I fell asleep while Phil traveled in the bar. Once we were in Brussels we walked to the hotel to leave the luggage, I had put mine in a bag on wheels which didn’t have a proper handle – only a small one on the top – it needed someone with arms reaching to their knees to pull it properly – so it was a hard journey.
We left the bags, with some misgivings as there was no ‘left luggage’ system whereby you got a ticket for your bag – you just shoved it in an unlocked room with everyone else’s bags. But we definitely didn’t want to carry bags around until they let us into our room, so shoved them in and trusted to luck.
We walked to a bar recommended in one of the travel guides – the Cafe Metropole – which was fantastic – really Victorian.
Phil had salad Nicoise, while I was daring and had something beginning with ‘Z’ – the waiter said ‘it is hot, and has chicken and cheese’ – turned out to be a selection of vol au vents! They were good.
We wandered on into the Grand Place and looked at the stage and got a programme for the Jazz festival, then walked along to the Marolles district – supposedly to look at the junk market – but got distracted first by an antique clothing store and then a bar called the Architects-
so by the time we got out of the bar the market had finished and they were just clearing up.
We made up for it by going into the antique shops along the road off the market place, Phil saw a gigantic head of Ceasar that he would have liked for the porch, and a ‘His Masters Voice’ wind up gramophone – but they would have been a bit difficult to get back onto the train. I saw some old school maps – the ones that were hung on the wall and given a satisfying thwack with a pointer. I have always wanted one – but these were priced at 200 euro – so we walked away.
We walked back to the hotel past the Cathedral
the Place de Martyrs,

and a supermarket for supplies, and went to book in.
The voodoo we had laid around our bags had worked and they were still there, and we went up to the room on the seventh floor- only to find that it hadn’t been touched since the last people had left it – still unmade beds and dirty glasses. Went straight back to reception and were given another room, this time on the sixteenth floor. We had baths and dinner in the room, then set out again.
We went to St Catherines Square and watched a band who were OK, but it was just good to sit and soak up the atmosphere – and watch the handsome waiter who I remembered from last year. We went straight from there to the Crowne Plaza to see the Dixieland Ramblers – who were as brilliant as we remembered them from last year. I was so tired that I didn’t stay for the second set – Phil saw me back to the hotel then went back, he possibly should have stayed with me, as he fell asleep at the bar!