Saturday, 19 September 2015

Rendezvous

Last week was way more interesting than usual.

I went to Brussels and saw my husband.

A bit of a whirlwind trip it's got to be said. I left on Wednesday morning and was back in time for school pick up on Friday. But worth all that travelling.

He had a meeting there, and a day spare before flying far away again, so we thought why not? Once I'd worked out what to do with the kids....

I have been to Brussels before, my sister and brother-in-law lived there for a few years. Over a decade ago now which is hard to believe. Their eldest was a tiny little thing then, and she didn't sleep much, so, no one was up for a great deal of sightseeing. Though I do remember walking into the centre of Brussels one time - etched into my memory because it was miles from their flat, my sister was heavily pregnant and my niece wasn't a happy bunny. All the way there and all the way back.

We walked a lot this time too, sort of aimlessly, but no kids to entertain or feed - hours to wander and eat! Interestingly most of my photos seem to be of food... apologies for the quality - I'm not great with a phone camera.





Now obviously we had to try a Belgian waffle....with whipped cream and caramel sauce.
SO good.
Eyes on sugar stalks after that.
We were given the teeniest, flimsiest plastic forks to eat it with, so just got stuck in instead. 
Most ladylike!


And we had to have a cone of chips with mayo while we waited for the rain to stop.


We kind of stumbled into the Grand Place, which was actually quite a lovely way to do it - when you're not expecting something quite so breathtakingly beautiful.




The unmistakeable Gothic style; the countless, intricate statues adorning the buildings, and all that gold, twinkling in the afternoon sun. It's still a market place, as it always has been, and all the streets off the square are named after food - Poulet, Herbes, Fromage. Funny enough we ended up down one where there was nothing but chocolate shops. Quite a lot of stopping and staring at beautifully arranged displays.

And a noticeable number of chocolate cherubs holding their winkle.

In fact it's hard to escape images of Manneken Pis (little man pee) because this small bronze sculpture of a boy weeing into a fountain basin is one of Brussels most famous tourist attractions. We did go and have a look for ourselves (because it's near the chocolate shops), but I'm afraid I didn't take a picture, because the tinkling toddler was surrounded by people snapping selfies. And quite honestly I don't really get it.

I did a bit of Googling after, and although it wasn't absolutely clear why the Manneken Pis is so famous, he is undoubtedly loved by the people of Brussels. I mean they even dress him up several times a week, often accompanied by a brass band - and he has hundreds of costumes, for different events and from different countries. Fascinating really. Still don't get it though.

But I do get one of the other things Belgium is famous for. Tintin.
Created by the Belgian artist, Hergé. 


Sure Tintin's best friends are a dog and an alcoholic; he doesn't appear to know any women and would probably vote UKIP, but I've always been fond of Hergé's intrepid reporter. Who never appears to do any actual reporting.


I tagged onto an english speaking tour by this wonderful mural, just as the guide was explaining it was part of the Comic Book route. There are over 50 well known cartoons like this dotted around the city apparently. We went to the Belgian Comic Strip Centre for a bit more Tintin, but, I'm embarrassed to admit, completely missed the Hergé museum. This is what happens when you don't do your research properly!
Next time then.


When the waffle/chip/choc hit began to wear off we ended up strolling through a sort of busy food alley (Rue des Bouchers).


Dozens of restaurants jam-packed together, jostling for business, seats and tables spilling onto the narrow lane. Amazing to see, but stop for a minute to check out a menu board and you'll be pounced on by a persuasive patron looking for your business. Best to keep moving at a steady pace and scan as you go...
It is a notorious tourist trap, prices tend to be higher than elsewhere (often more than advertised on the boards, because that's apparently a 'small' helping price), and quality can be poor, but there is a great atmosphere. And we did end up having a pretty good steak and chips washed down with a glass or two of very pleasant Belgian beer.


Already feels a world away.

16 comments:

  1. I LOVE Brussels, and most Belgian food. What's not to like! It sounds like you had a great mini adventure, and I completely agree with you about the Mannekin Pis by the way! :D

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    1. We did have a great time, but only scratched the surface really. Definitely go back!

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  2. It has been years since I (we) were in Brussels, but it all sounds the same. Funny how those old cities just keep on keeping on while the rest of the world seems to change. Glad you enjoyed your trip and time with your husband. And I have eaten many a European delicacy just as you did. But most of mine ended up on my face or the ground! Linda@Wetcreek Blog

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    1. I'd have been SO upset if that waffle had ended up on the ground! Very delicious. Seriously sticky hands after!

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  3. I’ve never been - must put it on the list! You seem to have had a great mini-break and I bet your husband was delighted that you flew over to see him.

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    1. He was. Went on the Eurostar instead of flying which was really easy :)

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  4. What a great way to get some time together - all too short I'm sure, but lovely. I love Brussels - the Grand Place is also lovely in Winter when there's a bar that sells gluwhein heated up with hot pokers - gorgeous. I'm also sitting here craving chips with mayo - and at 9.30 a.m. that's not good.

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    1. Maybe not, but I would! Different flavoured mayo too :) The Grand Place sounds lovely in Winter, and I was reading that every other August the square is covered in a carpet of flowers. Pictures look amazing!

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  5. I meant to also say - when we were on our Scout Camp in Holland this summer there was a scout group from Brussels which had a small model (garden gnome sized, fully working with an ingenious pump contraption) of mannekin pis outside their part of the camp site. Caused much amusement!

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  6. What a brilliant time you had! My mouth is watering at the thought of the food you ate. And you got to see your other half which must have been great. My mouth is watering for a waffle now... X

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    1. They are good! Amazing toppings too.
      Really don't need one, but have had an ever-so quick look at waffle makers online....

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  7. Never been to Brussels but it looks fabulous.... and so does the food! Love the mural of Tintin and Capitaine Haddock running down the fire escape with the face of Milou peeping out.
    Sounds like you had a great time and so lovely to be reunited with your husband I'm sure.
    x

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    1. It is a great mural - I'd love to have seen some of the others. If we go back (and hope we do) I'd like to walk the comic book trail x

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  8. Great reading your blog - its been years since weve seen you ......... if you are ever in Dorset, let us know - much love from your ancient uncle and aunt (P&J)

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    1. So lovely to hear from you! Thank you for reading :) It would be great to see you, maybe when Tim's back? And you're not ancient!! Much love xxx

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