our big trip - Days 21 + 22: Brussels

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Up early from The Hague, we took the local train to Rotterdam {admiring the snow-swept landscape along the way} then changed for Brussels, arriving into Brussels Central. It's such a fast journey, we were in the heart of the city by 10.00am.

Brussels Central was busy as a frosty bee - they had workers creating an enormous ice carving on the concourse ... just like The Netherlands, Belgian train stations are pretty much open-air. No refrigeration required to keep this icy monstrosity in shape. Take your coats with you.

Our Azimut Hotel apartment, located near the Gras Markt, was a wee bit far to walk, so we caught a local train to a closer station. As we exited the station, we were greeted by a snow-capped Smurf and some striking buildings.

We walked the cobble-stone streets in search of our accommodation which ended up being quite literally a few paces from the striking Grand Place. We adored our two-bedroom apartment. It was so affordable - and who could resist this view?


We had a cup of tea, wrapped up warm {it was F R E E Z I N G} and explored the Grand Place and its ancient buildings.

I have to admit, by the time we reached Brussels, we were kind of over the cold and the moving around. We'd been on the move for over three weeks straight and although it was a thrill to be in this long-waited-for town, we were just ... well ... tired.

Brussels, for us, at that time of year, was also not overly appealing for kids. I, of course, was gagging to go see the Masters, but this was just beyond the children {and husband} so we instead spent a lot of time just wandering the streets, taking in the sights and flavours. We found a local Carre Four and spent a heck of a lot of time sampling local delicacies, which we always find fun.

We also love to sample new places at night - so off we went, rugged to the eyeballs, and took in the area after dark.

 We were very happy to discover this ultra cool lolly shop . . .

And we were more than happy to warm up inside this beautiful restaurant/bar right on Grand Place ...

The next day, we slept in and left the apartment near lunchtime, walking to Cathédrale des Sts Michel et Gedule, then continuing on north to Rue des Sables.

Our favourite site in Brussels was by the far the Belgian Comic Strip Centre (Centre Belge de la Bande Dessinée). With two buildings located (confusingly) on opposite sides of the road, the building you want contains the bookstore and museum proper – inside the Waucquez Warehouse, an Art Nouveau creation designed by architect Victor Horta.

Whatever you do, don’t go into the book shop on the ground floor and ask a blonde man with glasses where to buy tickets lest you want to be subjected to some of the most appallingly rude eye-rolling and exasperation and impatience you’ll ever know--like, seriously ever. And I even asked him in French. Jerk.

Instead, buy your tickets upstairs from the gorgeous man with the dark curls and a warm smile (who must know that blonde man with glasses downstairs is a jerk), then get set to be truly overcome by this incredibly impressive museum (although you may need to be a comic fan to truly appreciate it). The kids didn't know of these artists and characters but they still enjoyed it, nonetheless, as there’s lots of interactivity.

Located on several floors of this striking Horta building {that in itself sent my heart apace}, feast your eyes on an astonishing array of comic strip characters from the Smurfs to Tin Tin and Asterix, from such talent as Goscinny and Uderzo to Hergé and Winsor McCay, creator of the Little Nemo comics (1920s). They even had a 3D replica of Nemo’s bed and vintage cartoons on show.

Little Nemo's bed. It was a 'moment' for me. It's all just truly, truly wonderful.

After the museum, we walked the streets again to Rue Neuve - the city's shopping district. On the way, we dropped into Stirling Books on Wolvengracht Street and the superlative Waterstones on Bld Adolphe Max. Oh my - sheer bliss. Yes, we bought books and we also bought Jammie Dodgers. Amazing that books and cookies can factor in as one of our favourite European experiences with the kids.

On the way back to our apartment, we sought out the famed Mannekin Pis, the little dude peeing in a fountain - or rather, he IS the fountain - on Rue de l'Etuve. Boy is he tiny! And he was bedecked in Vietnamese costume, as his outfit is regularly changed.

The best part of that experience were the waffles right next door - and the much larger plastic replica - nibbling a waffle tout nu - just the way we wanted him. ;)

The waffles are just--they're just beyond.

That night, we wandered the streets around the Grand Palace yet again.

We came across the most astonishing gourmet shop selling Middle Eastern pastries. I was in serious drool overload, and we snaffled half a million tempting parcels to take back to our apartment.

Yes, they were sticky, sweet and GOOD. We also snaffled some chocolate Mannekin Pis in rainbow colours, as you do, along with Speculoos, yes indeedy. Gifts for people at home (or gifts for us).

But the very best way to end our Brussels stay was this ...

And for all the exotic and romantic and fabulousness that was Brussels, Jammie Dodgers were oh so good.

distance travelled: 19,674km

our big trip - days 1 + 2: Melbourne
our big trip - day 3: Flying to Europe
our big trip - day 4: London
our big trip - day 5: London
our big trip - day 6: London
our big trip - day 7: London
our big trip - day 8: London
our big trip - day 9: Leyland
our big trip - day 10: London
our big trip - day 11: Paris
our big trip - day 12: Paris
our big trip - day 13: Paris
our big trip - day 14: Bruges
our big trip - day 15: Bruges 
our big trip - day 16: Bruges and The Hague
our big trip - day 17: The Hague
our big trip - day 18: Amsterdam
our big trip - day 19: Amsterdam
our big trip - day 20: The Hague
Two days lost with travel and travelling east
our big trip - days 25 + 26: Bangkok
our big trip - day 27: Kanchanaburi
our big trip - days 28 - 32: Cha Am Resort
our big trip - day 33: Hua Hin
our big trip - days 34 + 35: Coming Home

1 comment:

Dani said...

You are tempting me for a European winter!

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