I would like to invite my friends and family to join me for an afternoon cup of tea while I share my international adventures.
Nov 21, 2011
Bruges & Brussels
My 1st international trip without my husband (a world traveler). I was a little nervous but excited to explore a new country with one of my best friends. Our plan was to spend 1 day in Bruges & 1 day in Brussels. We took the Eurostar train from London St Pancreas to Brussels Midi - it's about a 2 hour train ride, which was uneventful (with the exception of snorting myself awake & everyone having a good laugh). When we got off the Eurostar in Brussels - we had to connect to the local train that would take us to Bruges (another hour ride away). We had a 25 minute connection time - which I thought would be fine but I didn't take into account that everything was in french and that there would be long lines for tickets. We got our tickets & found our platform with about 5 minutes to spare. That's when it hit me - we needed to exchange money - hmmm miss the train (and take a later one) or jump on the train & exchange our money at the train station in Bruges. We decided we would take the train & exchange our money in Bruges. I'm sure you can guess - they don't have an exchange desk there, the closest place was a 20 minute walk - so bags in hand we start out. We find the bank, exchange our money & head back to the train station to store our bags. Unfortuately, we couldn't figure out how to make the lockers work (as the instructions were in french). Eventually, we found someone who took pity on us & explained what to do in English. Bags stored, map in hand, Euro's in pocket, camera around neck - we were ready to explore. Bruges is one of the most pictureque places I've ever seen - it was like a movie set. Every place you looked was more beautiful than the next. For someone like me who loves to take pictures - it couldn't of been more perfect. We had a 3 hour lunch at a little restaurant overlooking the main square - the flemish stew was amazing, the mint tea outstanding! Yes - I did say a 3 hour lunch, I personally think the waiters were making bets about how long the Americans would sit there but as I would come to find out - the Europeans take their time while eating & if you want your bill or the next course you have to signal them. We spent the rest of the day wondering around the streets, taking pictures in a magnificent setting before setting off to Brussels. In Brussels - we stayed at the Royal Windsor hotel, a great hotel, in a great location. Brussels definitely has a city feel - it's bigger & busier than Bruges but still beautiful. The architecture was outstanding. The food - stew (Brasserie Rou d 'or), waffles, chocolate (chocolateirs on every corner), french fries (eaten with mayo) ....all amazing. The streets are like a maze & we found ourself looking at the map quite a bite. We must of looked lost & confused because every time we pulled the map out - someone would stop & ask us if they could help :) They would actually go out of their way to help us - definitely some of the nicest people I've met so far. I have to say - I love Belgium (the food, the people, the sights). I can't wait to go back & visit again.