Brussels with Beth & Rich, Day 2October 14, 2017 in Belgium
We'd dropped off to the sound of car stereos and Vicky had been ill in the night, possibly from a dodgy mussel. The pavement was littered with fag ends and soda siphon gas canisters (the new drug of choice?)
However, none of this had dampened our enthusiasm for the fun filled day ahead of us. The bus system was efficient (€2.50 for an hour's travelling) and we were soon meeting Beth and Richard at one of the tables outside Paul's bakery.
We set out towards the European Parliament. It would be closed today but we still wanted to see the buildings. It was a couple of kilometres away and we enjoyed taking in the sights along the route. Especially when we saw the most amazing cookshop that we ended up losing ourselves in for almost an hour! We even found a wraught iron book stand displaying the 'Netherton Foundry' emblem, from our home town! Will and Beth love to cook and bake, Vicky and Richard love to eat their creations, so it was time well spent!
The weather was extraordinarily warm for mid October and continuing on our uphill journey towards the European Parliament we become hot and tired, so picnic benches belonging to a hipster café in the park were a very welcome sight. We sipped on homemade lemonade and iced tea, under the dappled shade of trees, being serenaded by a couple of musicians playing jazz style music - perfect!
Carrying on towards Parliament along busy roads, we passed a mix of old and new buildings, stone fronted houses with high windows where you could imagine with a horse and carriage waiting outside, were intermixed with glass fronted office blocks. There was a real contrast, but the thing they had in common was the layer of grime covering their facades.
By the time we reached the EU neighbourhood we were ready for lunch, so settled ourselves down for Belgian fries and Stella Artois Juliper at one of the few pubs that was open. Feeling re-energised we went to have a look at the impressive glass fronted buildings in which a large part of the UK's future would be decided. (We later found out Theresa May was meeting Jean-Claude Juncker in Brussels the day after we were due to leave).
Navigating the train network, we travelled back to the city centre where Vicky went back to care for Poppy while Will, Beth & Rich went for waffles - piled with cream, strawberries, banana. Afterwards, we all met at a bar on the Grand Place where we sat outside and tasted some more Belgian beer! - is there a trend beginning to emerge here? A view of the stunning square wasn't the only interesting sight this pub offered, a trip to the men's toilets made Will, then Richard stop in their tracks -see the photo!
Being Saturday, it was the day before Beth's birthday and she'd chosen a nice restaurant (ABrussel), with modern, typically Belgian dishes, for the evening meal. It was a cosy place with an open kitchen for us to see the food being prepared. This 'Kitchen Theatre' turned out to be better than if dedicated entertainment had been hired! The food was excellent but the organisation and communication between the chef and waiters left something to be desired. We spoke English because English was spoken to us but a mix up meant we were each presented with beef that was well done, not rare. When Will told the chef he shrugged in a slightly confrontational manner and grunted as if to say 'yeah, so?' We got what we wanted in the end and had a great evening, but apologies and discounts were dolled out to many diners as they were leaving.
To round up the night we stopped for a glass of bubbly at Beubles; a shabby chic champagne bar with old theatre armchairs on coasters as outdoor seating. It was a very enjoyable indulgence to sit and sip whilst taking in the sights and sounds of the European capital on a warm October night!Read more