Brussels, Belgium: Will we ever go home? At this point - more than a month of travel - I think we should just keep going until we have visited every major European city and several minor towns? As long as we are here, right?
At least I booked a mid-day train so we didn't have to get up too early. We can now pack our bags in about 15 seconds, so had time for a nice leisurely breakfast in our hotel buffet dining room before taking a taxi to the station and catching a 3-plus hour train to Brussels. We have never been to Brussels (though we have been to Belgium previously), and were excited to see this beautiful city and EU headquarter.
There are (at least) four train stations in Brussels and our ticket allowed us to get off at which-ever one we chose. Using a map app, I discovered Brussels-Central was the closest to our hotel, so we exited there... only to learn it was only less than a 1/4-mile walk to our hotel from the station. We headed off, dragging our bags behind us and found my dreaded nemesis: cobblestone! Smart Reader, do not drag your rolling suitcase even one block over cobblestone. I was positive the wheels were going to rattle right off my bag! Not a good experience. I told DT we are taking a taxi to the train station when/if we leave.
After checking-in and settling-in, we went off on a self-guided walking tour of the most famous square in Brussels and the square always proclaimed the most beautiful in all of Europe, the Grand Place. Guild Houses (official guild offices of all the artisans and business (such as bakers, bankers, masons, painters, brewers, etc.) built their headquarters along the square showing their wealth and power into the politics of the city. Many of the houses were decorated with gold.
The building commanding the most attention in the square - with the tall tower, above - is not a church. This is City Hall. (PS: The entire square is tiled in wobbly stone.) Now the lower floors of all the old guild halls house retail shops, and since this is Belgium, many (many many many) of the shops sell chocolate. It's like heaven in one city block. The oldest chocolatiers to Godiva are represented. My goal is to sample them all.
May need to remain here several days.
The Golden Tree is the only guild hall on the square still owned by the original group, the Brewers. A statue of Charles of Lorraine (no idea) is on top. This house now has a brewers museum.
After identifying the buildings around the Grand Place - most of them are now private homes - we ventured a bit off the main plaza to find the pretty covered market halls.
Belgium is famous for beer, chocolate, fries (French fries were created in Belgium), and waffles. There are thousands of restaurants, shops, and kiosks selling these things. Belgium is also famous for lace, though it seems, unlike chocolate, lace has gone out of fashion. Not to me. Only a needleworker can appreciate the work that goes into making something so beautiful and delicate. Maybe I need a few more coasters? (No. I do not.) So, what happens if you have a famous lace shop next to a famous fry shop?
After a rest in our hotel room, we went to the hotel bar for a cocktail before dinner and to my great delight (and surprise) found a bottle of Tanqueray gin on the shelf in the bar! Hallelujah. First time in weeks. The bartender made me a martini just the way I like it, and we then strolled down the street (they are more like alleys - narrow and without cars - to a little tavern-like place for quick and light dinners.
Tomorrow we will do a proper walking tour of Brussels - maybe eat a waffle or fries? - and acquaint ourselves with the most famous statue in the country: a little boy peeing.
Until my next update, I remain, your waffling correspondent
Pedometer: 9,000 steps. Again, not too bad for a travel day.