After moving our youngest into her dorm in London, we left for the train to Brussels. This was my first high speed train experience and chunnel experience to boot! The train station was crowded and claustrophobic but the train ride was pretty cool (other than a guy on his cell phone using the speaker function with a bad connection). The train dumped us off about a mile from our lodging & rather than trying to figure out the bus or subway, we decided to walk with all our luggage. That was a bit much & my first impressions of the city was that is was pretty dirty and run down. What we didn’t know was that we were not in the best part of town but soon arrived at the super narrow building that we would be staying in. The inn owner was not around but left us a code to get in and an envelope with all the info we needed. After a tough hike up 5 floors of narrow stairs, we could finally dump the bags and figure out where we were. I was tired of walking & in need of a beer. I opened the roof window to cool down & realized we had a view of where I wanted to be.
Right as we got down to the square in the above picture, we saw police and people gathering near one of the narrow streets. Not more than 20 seconds later, a parade came marching down the street with some young people leading the way and giant “dolls” trailing them.
It was short but sweet & I still don’t know what it was all about but as soon as they had cleared that street we headed down towards the cafes & bars of the Grand-Place area. The street bars were crowded with not to many open seats to be found. My wife really wanted to sit outside & enjoy people watching. We lucked out & found some seats at the Delirium cafe. For any non-beer drinkers, Delirium is one of the most popular and award winning beers in the world so I was very happy to find these seats!
After a few beers to recharge our batteries we walked around the crowded square. I took a few pictures but it was very crowded & had garbage everywhere from all the crowds from the parade & a Friday fair. The buildings were so beautiful we decided to just get up early and go for a photo journey the next day. My wife loves mussels so we went to the restaurant recommended by our host and called it a night pretty early. The next day was much more relaxing to enjoy some of the architecture.
After our walk, we had a lovely Belgian breakfast at our lodging with just the host. She served an amazing bread made of the dough used for Belgian waffles, fruit, an egg, assorted cheeses & preserves. My wife & daughter booked the trip so that we only stayed in Brussels that one day before heading to Bruges for a few days. We then had one other full day on the backside. I’m going to do the Bruges experience in a different post so will continue with the pictures from when we returned here. We had only done the Grand-Place area on that first stay so went up the hill for some amazing views and more architectural beauty. Clouds hung over the city & over our hearts as my wife had got the call from her brother that her dad had died. We knew it was coming but it didn’t make it easier and made for a very somber walk around the city.
If you are a bricklayer, you could make a damn good living in Belgium!
A famous cartoonist has his own section of the Royal Park we walked through. This was my favorite of the 20 some statues in the park.
You can see more of them here:
We finished our walking tour at the Cathedral of St. Michael & St. Gudula. It is one of many amazing cathedrals in Belgium. Construction started in the 11th century and wasn’t completed until the 16th century.
All these cathedrals share a few things in common, amazing stained glass & giant pipe organs!
We left the next day to return to London for a quick check on the daughter before heading home. She finishes her study abroad at the end of December. Even though she didn’t get to do this part of the trip with us, she booked almost everything for us and did a great job. I will definitely be spending more time in this part of Europe once the wife retires. Hope you enjoyed the images & encourage everyone to make this journey.