Muscles from Brussels

Non linear posting ahoy… My trip notes are starting to blur together, and I’m coming and going faster than I can post. Last week I was in Brussels for work. It was snowing heavily, and when we woke up on Tuesday we were snowed into the hotel, then ultimately, every Eurostar train was cancelled, meaning lots of hurried calls and a flight home. I had a really short but sweet time though!

Brussels PhotoBrussels

My favourite Belgian things:

1. Trains – being able to catch a train from my house, under-the-sea then to Belgium in just two hours is mind-blowing.
2. Speculoos – ginger cookies in spreadable form? Yes, please.
3. Beer – cheap Kwak and Kriek in every bar, what more could you want?
4. Friendly people – Brussels sometimes feels like a cute, sweeter version of Paris.
5. Wildlife – the snow was too much for the taxi to take us further, so we walked back to the hotel past some fields… And were treated to the sight of more bunnies that one could count, frolicking in the snow.

Belgium city-break: Brussels

Belgium has a great mix of cultures – half Flemish, half French. Brussels in particular captures this spirit – it’s in the Flemish side of the country, but the majority of inhabitants are native French-speakers.  It’s a lovely place to explore. You’ll probably notice a common themes running through these photographs; Brussels is famous for waffles, chocolate, frites, comics (it’s the home of Tintin), and the Manneken Pis.

tintin

Tintin and Snowy! Spotted from the train rolling into Bruxelles-Midi/Brussel-Zuid station.

bruxelles

An example of the two languages living side by side. Also, Brussels has really nice trash cans.
(Is that an odd thing to notice?)

Brussels Grote Market

Building detail - Brussels Grote Market

The Grote Markt (or Grand Place) was a square of breathtaking buildings. Gold, ornate, and utterly gorgeous.

comic-walls

Brussels has lots of cool street art/comics painted around town. There’s also a museum dedicated to comics!

belgian-owls

The finest Belgian chocolate – in owl form.

A true polyglot, Brussels melds old and new architecture.

bicycles

mannekin

Putting the Pis in “piss-take” – there are tributes to Brussels’s favourite son, the Manneken Pis, everywhere.

kitten-postcards

cookie

puppet

waffles

birds-of-paradise

Then after a night out and some excellent French food, it was back to London. I think we’ll be back to visit very soon – Belgium is only 1 hour 50 minutes away from London by Eurostar. It’s amazing  to someone who has spent their entire life living on an island!

Belgium city-break: Antwerp

This week Thom and I zapped off on the Eurostar to Belgium for our first city break since moving to England. Being greedy ambitious adventurers, we figured we had enough time to see the sights of both Antwerp and Brussels. After getting up way too early in the morning for my liking, we caught a breezy train to Antwerp – one of Belgium’s Flemish cities.

Catherdral

The beautiful cathedral in the heart of the old quarter. We stayed in a quaint little hotel right behind it.

waffle

It seems like you can get waffles everywhere in Belgium – even from train station vending machines.

Tea for two

We stopped for coffee & lunch to escape the chill. Despite my mittens, I wasn’t prepared for how cold it was!

metro

There are dual language editions of this daily newspaper, in two different colours (green for French).

Anvers

T & A

Twins

Antwerp’s retro-winkels, AKA vintage stores were great. Best find: a set of antique chocolate moulds for €20.

Leaves

We spent most of out time just wandering the streets, ducking into interesting shops, and taking photos. One evening we went spent a few hours in a tiny bar, making friends with some locals, and then later, the Frites man. It amused him no end to explain all the different chip and mayo options to two enthusiastic tourists…

Next stop: Brussels!