Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Chocolate, Waffles, Beer, French Fries

The four of us headed to the Wuppertal train station early in the he morning to get to Brussels around 9:30 am.  I was pretty excited to be reminded on the train that French is one of the main languages in Belgium.  

After taking the metro to near our hotel, we walked up and down Rue Royale a couple times trying to find Hotel Albert (mainly due to nice people giving us incorrect directions).  We couldn't check into the hotel for about 4 more hours, so left our bags and headed out to explore the city.  

Turns out I picked a cheap hotel in the north side of Brussels, which is kind of sketchy.  Checking out the local Mediterranean market was fun...

So many olives!!!

Heidi can't stay away from those markets 

After losing and finding each other, we'd had enough of the market and headed into the center of Brussels to find somewhere to eat.  We stopped at the Jardin Botanique for snacks and photo ops. 

 At the Jardin Botanique

We took the long way to the center of Brussels, but finally made it to the Grand Place (town square/ market) where we started our free walking tour. 

Letting the river be our guide

Brussels' Grand Place

The Brewery Museum- built into the basement of the Brewers’ House, the guild house or trade association of brewers in Belgium

Brussels Town Hall- Gothic building from the Middle Ages

Land of Tin Tin

Manneken Pis

Belgian waffles (liege, not the Brussels kind)

Brussels Stock Exchange

Three hours later, we headed back to the hotel, then again into the city a couple hours later for dinner and a stop at Neuhaus chocolaterie.  

Enjoying some kriek at dinner

This famous chocolate shop was started by a pharmacist who handed out chocolates with his patients' medications.  Soon his patients were coming for only the chocolate.  Something to aspire to :)

At the Neuhaus chocolate shop- Heidi with the chocolate connoisseurs 

Saturday morning, we headed back on the train for a day in cute old Bruges.
After creating a plan at the information center, we checked out the market, then had lunch at Panos.  We couldn't resist H&M (although we've been to one in about every city) and discovered that this location was actually having a sale.  

Back to our plan for the day, we checked out the city...

Church of Our Lady

Gruuthuse Museum

...then headed on our De Halve Mann brewery tour at 3:00 pm, beer included. 

View of Bruges from atop the brewery

The Bruges boat tour then took us around the town- in 4 different languages.  

Bruges boat tour

After grabbing some dinner, which included traditional foods such as kriek and fries, we headed back to the train to head back to Brussels. 

Sunday morning we slept in, worked out, and packed up for the day.  After figuring out the lockers at the train station, we left our stuff and explored Brussels for the few hours we had left. 

We finally decided on breakfast at a restaurant near the train station, where the nice man working lured us in with the fact that he could make omelettes for breakfast (even though it was 12pm).

After stuffing ourselves for breakfast we headed to the European Parliament and Parliamentarium to discover a little bit more about the EU. 

European Parliament


Next we had some errands to run and things to buy!  Including Belgian waffles!


Belgian waffle for lunch

Belgium was a fun weekend.  Our consensus is that Brussels is definitely a melting pot or mosaic (whatever term they use in elementary social studies these days), as there were many people of varying ethnicities, languages, and cultures.  Belgium could not really be compared to other European countries we've visited in the past. 

On our way back to Velbert, we had a very entertaining cab driver. 

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