We had the usual panic in getting away despite Phil only finding two shoes at the last minute – which should have been fine but one was a trainer and one wasn’t. We eventually managed to find footwear, car keys, etc and got to the Ashford with not quite enough time to use the cheap outdoor car park.
We got to Brussels and made the usual trek from dingy streets into the splendour of the Grande Place. We go a different way every time – following Phils innate sense of direction. This is fine except that if I ever go there on my own I will not know where the hell I am as we have never been the same way twice! It was very, very hot, and we decided to see if we could leave the bags at the hotel first, which was on the other side of the town, so by the time we had left the bags and got back to the Grand Place we were certainly in need of a drink. We passed the gloriously named Dickfish restaurant
but ate in the Falstaff restaurant. It is so beautiful and the food is good.
We went down to St Catherines Place and got a seat near to the front of the stage – nobody was playing but there was Frank Zappa playing over the loudspeakers and it was all hot and lazy and the waiter was goodlooking and everything was wonderful.
Then the band came on…… well, actually they were OK, but couldn’t make up their minds whether they were jazz or reggae.
We walked on to the Grand Place which was absolutely packed, we managed to squeeze in at the back and catch the last couple of numbers. The band were good – called the Peas Project (?!) – there were about 10 of them, all thoroughly enjoying themselves, as were the crowd! Despite everyone in the audience going crazy and shouting for more they only played one encore, and finished at about 2245. We walked back to the Crowne Plaza hotel opposite ours as two years ago a really good jazzband had been playing there – the Dixieland Ramblers- and luckily they were back again. We managed to get seats for the second set and really enjoyed it.
They didn’t finish until well after 0130 and when we got back to the Sheraton the main door was locked and we had to ring the bell and ask to go in!
The next day we had breakfast in the club room on the 25th floor
I am definitely not made for high rise living.
We did our usual aimless wandering around – past the Royal Dog shop and through the Sablon looking at the antique stalls. We saw a very good Hiphop band and then went back to the hotel for a rest. There was a box of chocolates in the room – might not be cut out for highrise living but could definitely get used to staying at the Sheraton!
In the evening we went for dinner to our usual Italian restaurant where we met a very nice Englishman who was working in Brussels for 3 months.We finished dinner and went to the Grand Place only to find everyone packing up – just like last year we had misjudged the time and missed the main band. We walked back to the Crowne Plaza to see the Dixie Ramblers again who were as brilliant as the night before, they played the best music of the whole weekend. They enjoy playing so much it really comes through in the music. We had to ring the bell again to get into the hotel once they had finished!
Sunday we just went walking – the fantastic thing about Brussels is that you can be walking down the most rundown street and then all of a sudden you come across fantastic buildings – like this square. This was a town hall.
We walked back to the centre of town after having a beer in a tiny cafe and came across a half marathon – went into the musee d’art (just to use the loo!) and came out to see the street absolutely packed with runners. We went for a meal at the Hungarian restaurant in Sablon, and at the end the rather luscious owner came out and insisted on taking our photo on the stage where the musicians play in the evening.
So I took hers with Phil. He was a bit blurry but she looks good!
I don’t think a visit to Brussels is complete without a visit to the Mannequin Pis – although Phil disagreed and made me fight through the tourists on my own. It was worth it as he was wearing clothes!
We walked back to the hotel to collect our bags and then went back to the station and back home to the pouring rain in England.
One last sign!