"" Writer's Wanderings: Brussels, Day 1

Monday, April 17, 2023

Brussels, Day 1

Leaving CLE on Sunday afternoon, a bit of a nail-biter connection in Washington Dulles and a crowded overnight flight to Brussels but we survived. Weary and excited about beginning our travel odyssey, we purchased train tickets and found our way to the train station in the Brussels airport. It was a twenty-two minute ride to Brussels-Central station.

We stood for a long moment trying to decide which exit to use to get to our hotel which was within a short walking distance from the station. Yup. We took the wrong one. When the Hilton Brussels Grand Place hotel showed on my phone map, we realized we had only to walk around a short block and we were there, well, at the back of the hotel. When we walked to the front entrance we looked across the plaza at the train station and realized our mistake. Probably only one of a few we will make along the way and it was easily corrected.

The receptionist told us the room Bob had checked into was not ready yet but he had others that were comparable and available. Were we interested? You bet. It took great restraint to not do a Snoopy dance right there in the beautiful lobby.

Neither of us had slept on the plane more that a half hour and our time back home was still in the middle of the night. Breakfast had been less that satisfying on the plane (a biscotti and Greek yogurt with a cup of coffee) so we promised ourselves a nap after getting some breakfast. Since our “included” breakfast did not start until the next day, we stopped in at a little boutique place in a corner of the hotel that featured all sorts of porridge. Not what Bob was looking for exactly but the porridge bowl, Oat Skool, had apples, nuts, raisins, honey, and a few other healthy grains tossed in on top of the oatmeal. I loved it—not so much the espresso coffee which we shouldn’t have had.

Back in the room, we tried to nap but the enticement of the city outside the hotel and the caffeine kept us from falling asleep. We gave up and started walking around. The planned walking tour on my phone was for the next day since this day was gray and sunshine was promised for the morning. Oh yes, the temperature was only around 50 degrees F to start so it was a bit chilly.

I had mentioned to Bob that I’d thought about buying Apple Air Tags for our luggage and backpacks but forgot to follow through. He found an Apple store and we made that our destination for the morning. It wasn’t that far but it was all uphill—thankfully a gentle climb. Along the way we passed chocolate store after chocolate store and between them were waffle shops. It reminded us of Makinac Island in MI where all you see are fudge shops.

As we started back we passed an area that appeared to be government buildings and found ourselves almost in the middle of an organized demonstration. We had been curious about all the security and police we had seen and soon a group all dressed in green marched down the street on the other side of a small park. I’m going to use the excuse that I was tired when I tell you that the back of the police jackets had what looked like “polite police” written on them. Actually in Flemish, police is politie. Close.

At one point I mentioned to Bob that we had climbed enough there should be an overlook somewhere as a reward. On our way back to the hotel, we happened upon a wonderful view of the city and a beautiful garden.

Bob was in need of protein. We found a fast food hamburger place called Quick and were they ever. By the time you ordered at the kiosk and it spit out the receipt, they were calling your order number. I sipped tea while I watched him eat a burger and fries that had no resemblance to either BK or McD.

Back at the hotel, we were now tired enough to be able to nap for an hour, just enough to refresh but not enough to take care of sore legs and feet. We sat and surfed the internet and watched the International CNN for some time until the cobbled streets of Brussels called out again. Outside was a beautiful city full of all sorts of new things for us to see. We couldn’t sit in.

At a waffle place not far from our hotel, we enjoyed a true Belgian waffle. Mine at home could never compare. Crispy and light, they serve them with all sorts of toppings. Bob’s was plain and mine was topped with bananas. Next time I go for the chocolate. As we sat and finished our tea and coffee, we located a restaurant for dinner that was recommended by TripAdvisor. Turned out to be a great recommendation, Pasta Divina. I’m guessing it was the patriarch of the family owned business who went to each table to check on his guests.

 Back in the Grand Place square, we found a Starbucks and got decafs as we sat and waited for the sunset. It got a little too chilly and I suspect being tired made us feel colder so we walked back to our hotel and waited out the sunset. The buildings are supposed to light up at night in the Grand Place but when we returned shortly after sunset, they were still unlit. We watched an acrobatic performer for a while and then decided to make it an early evening. I'm always afraid a jet-lagged Bob will fall asleep standing up. He's done it to me before. All told, we walked over 16,000 steps, about 8 miles. We earned an early bedtime.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...