I decided to take the train and spend the day in Brussels. It is a short and cheap ride so why not? I left early this morning and had originally planned on meeting Amanda and her mom in Brussels. They were due in this afternoon en route to Poland. Sadly my cell phone battery was less charged than I thought so I could not meet up so now it’s just me (at least until Wednesday) I have moved my stuff to my final hotel and am so excited to be able to stay in one place for a few days and not drag that bag around everywhere! Also excited to have my own room again (even though with the exception of Amanda, the snore queen, my roomies were lots of fun)!!!
So Brussels! When I arrived I decided to buy a ticket for the hop on/hop off bus to make the most of my day. I hopped on and the first thing to lure me off was the Atomium which was built for a world exposition in the 1950’s and is a giant atom. There is an elevator that takes you to the top and gives you views of all of the city. You can also take escalators into the various spheres on the atom.
When I bought my ticket there was an option to buy a combined ticket to the atom and something called Little Europe but I did not know what it (or where) was so I passed. But then I got to the top and saw it – dang it!!!! Turns it it is some sort of park in which they have built miniatures of over 100 famous places in Europe. It looked like tons of fun!!!
I rode the bus for the remaining part of the first route and then took a break for lunch. Brussels is known for its Grand Place but it was really hard to find and even at the bus stop for it you could not see it. A few more signs would have been helpful! For lunch I tried the famous Belgian fries. I was not in love. They were okay but I have had better. I could not decide if it was the fries or the ketchup but I had to try them.
After lunch I checked out Grand Place (once I found it). It looks like something out of a movie. Very classic, old European style. From there I went to the lace and costume museum (close enough to knitting). They were having a special exhibit on the 1970’s which was interesting. It was incredible to see what goes into lacemaking and from a craft perspective very much enjoyed it. (Also on the top floor they had a clean, free bathroom) Next I went to the Gallerie St. Hubert which is the oldest covered shopping strip in Europe. All the “malls”here are so gorgeous! There I found the neuhaus chocolate store. Well I found lots of chocolate stores (Belgian chocolate) but neuhaus developed the first praline (what the call chocolates) and he designed the candy box. What stopped me at this store – Chocolate Smurf!!! A bag full of chocolate later I was off to ride the second line of the bus tour. So far 2 classic Belgian items down, two to go!
I ended up staying on the bus for the entire route. I used City Sightseeing which I have seen other places. I was less than impressed. The drivers were not friendly or helpful (despite the audio guide telling me how friendly Belgians are, not my experience). The stops were kind of far away from what they were stopping for and the drivers never announced stops so when riding upstairs you could not tell if it was a bus stop or traffic. I am not sure I would use them again. But I saw Brussels and that was the important part.
I went back to the Galleries for dinner because the one cafe was supposed to have the best Belgian waffles (#3!). Lucky me they had sandwiches and Belgian beer (#4!) as well. I sat and people watched and really enjoyed my waffle until it was time to go back to the train station.
On the teain now, still so weird for it be daylight at 9:45 but I am soaking it up until I come home! Sleeping tomorrow for the first time since I left and then we will see where I end up!