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!