Sam and I went on a ‘mini-break’ to Brussels on Friday and came home yesterday. I tried to keep a blog whilst we were there but having no internet access meant I was doing it on my phone. Here is part 1 of our adventures. Part two will follow when I have time to write it! I have included some pics. The rest are on Revado:
Saturday 17 17:21
So, this weekend, for a small change, we have taken a long weekend and gone a small trip to Brussels. The Eurostar moved from Waterloo to St Pancras, which is far more convenient for us. We got the train quite early; in fact we had to get up earlier than a normal work day! However, it was nice and easy to get checked in for the train. St Pancras is quite nice now they’ve revamped it. It’s not quite as wonderful as they made it out to be though. Half of the shops weren’t occupied and the world’s longest champagne bar (or whatever they claim it is) isn’t a complete straight bar like I thought – there are seating booths and stuff!!
Sunday 18 21:14
I had to abandon my blog yesterday because I had a headache. However, I shall pick up where I left off which was Friday on the Eurostar. It all seems so long ago now so I shan’t go on too much, but the journey was brilliantly quick, only 1 hr 50 minutes total. The most amazing bit was the new channel tunnel rail link from St Pancras to the tunnel – 30 minutes!! The equivalent trip from Waterloo was over twice that.
We arrived in Brussels just before 11am (local time) and decided to walk to the hotel from the station. It was cold, but not as bad as we expected and the walk took us about half an hour. We had a reservation at the 5 star Hotel Metropol, but we weren’t able to check in until 3pm. We left our bags and wandered off towards the Parque Bontanique. It was quite a pretty park, but the trees were all bare because it’s winter. We went into the big glass house expecting a proper botanical garden, but it was actually a concert venue! We did, however, find a café where we got a yummy panini for lunch. After lunch we went to the Centre Belge de la Bande Dessinee (the Belgium Comic Museum). Belgium is the home of Tin Tin so there various displays of Tin Tin related material. The Smurfs are also Belgian so there were sketches of the Smurfs through the ages.
From there we checked into the hotel and the inside was very fancy and old. There is one of those old fashioned lifts with the consertiner door. The room was very nice, quite spacious. However, the thing that made the room was the bathroom – very luxurious with a cubical shower, a bath with a shower over and two sinks! We chilled out for a while and then mosied out at about 5.30pm for an early dinner. We went to this cool cellar restaurant off the Grand Place. I had Moulle Marinere and Sam had beef in beer, what seems to be a traditional Belgian dish. It was very tasty!
On Saturday we got up at about 9am and enjoyed a leisurely breakfast of Pain au Chocolate bought the night before from a little supermarket. We headed out about 10.30am and went to get the 1A metro line out to Heysel where the Atomium is. The Atomium is a atom shaped building built for the 1958 World Fair. We went into the Atomium and up to the top where there is an observation deck. It as a bit cloudy though so we couldn’t see much.
We then went into some of the other spheres of the atom which had random exhibitions in them. They were only vaguely interesting, but it was exciting traveling between the spheres. We also got a nice waffle snack in the café!
After the Atomium, we headed across the road to “Mini Europe”. It was 12 euros each to get in so we were a little reluctant to go in, but decided to give it a bash because we were only going to be there once. I’m really glad we did because it was really good fun. We spent about an hour or so going around the park which was divided up by country. At the start of each country there was a button you could press to play the countries national anthem. Then there was an array of models miniature models for famous sights in each country, such as The Houses of Parliament in England and the Eiffel Tower for France. The park had a very pro-Europe feel and the little booklet they gave free had lots of interesting facts about each of the European countries listed!
On our way back into town from we stopped off at Simonís to look at the Sacré Coeur. It was by no means as beautiful as its Paris counterpart, but it was a very impressive building with a small part leading up to the front. We then jumped back on the metro and headed over to the other end of Brussels to look at the European Commission. The building is huge and, despite being a moderately dull looking building, very imposing and impressive. Across the road from the European Commission is the Parc du Cinquantenaire so we headed over there for a looksie. It was fairly nippy by this point and we were getting a bit tired so we just walked through the park and had a look at the buildings down the far end. There was a rather impressive archway which looked very similar to the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin.
As I say, after that we were quite tired so we headed back to the hotel for a rest. We went out about 6pm for dinner and went for a really lovely Italian – I had pasta with broccoli! We didn’t stay out long after that because it was chilly and much busier than the night before. I didn’t mind going back though because it gave me the opportunity to try out the massive bath!