Wednesday, 17 November 2010

A weekend with the girls

There I was getting all excited about my trip to Atlanta next week when I was reminded that I hadn't even posted my blog about the weekend in Brussels wth the girls in August!
Day 1
Arrived fresh and alert after a 2 hr Eurostar journey.


Our first mission, food and we choose what looked like a quiet restaurant just off Grand Place. More interesting than the food we were eating was the horrific argument between our waitress and the chef. The screaming which started in the kitchen emerged into the restaurant. Tempers raged, arms flared and voices soared. Shame it was all in French.
Mission two was to find the Manneken Pis – the famous Belgian statue of the peeing boy. I had seen him before and had pre-warned the others that it was nothing grand nor spectacular. Still, nothing could brace them for just how unimpressive this tiny pisser was up close in person. For those of you who posted questions on my facebook photos asking why he was famous, check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manneken_Pis
However, this disappointment didn’t last long as next on the list was to sample a fresh Belgian waffle. The smell of fresh waffles filled the air at every corner and the sheer taste alone was worth the 2 hour train journey and more than made up for anti climax of Manneken Pis.



Day 2 – Bruges or Brugge
I’m not normally one who laps up all those touristy attractions but I couldn’t help myself in Bruges. A leisurely lunch at the Republic (great food & atmosphere) was followed by a tour of the chocolate factory (where I learned chocolate was good for my heart and teeth; like I need an excuse), a boat ride down the canal and to top it off… a horse and carriage ride around the old town on a horse called Shabba (yes, I’m cringing even as I type). But it was all good fun and such a gorgeous city that next time I think I may choose staying in Bruges over Brussels.



I didn’t get to do the cycle ride I was looking forward to nor climb the tower of Our Lady’s Church. With 366 steps and no lift in either direction, I will need to wait until my knee is fully healed before attempting such escapades.



Day 3
Today we journeyed to Soigines to visit my cousin who has recently relocated there from the States. What should have been a simple 27 minute journey turned into a mini drama – what with train cancelations and platform changes all being announced in French and on a service that only runs 1 train per hour. As we arrived so much later than intended, there was only time for a quick introduction to the shopping high street. Non the less, I hadn’t seen those guys in couple of years so it was nice to meet up.



No short break is complete without a bit of down time and mine came in the form of some time spent in the hotel sauna, before our final night on the town. It started with a meal at Muntaz, an Indian restaurant recommended by an Indian gentleman who ran a corner shop near our hotel. The restaurant was loud and vibrant and the meal was great. The only criticism was the length of service, having ordered at 10 and not receiving a morsel of food until minutes to 11pm.
We had our sights set on L’Archiduc, a famous Jazz and cocktail bar for our final night. However, the place was very crowded, testament to its popularity I guess. But also very smoky and claustrophobic. As the entire group wasn’t happy, we moved on to a bar a few door away as it’s difficult to navigate the cobbled sidewalks with 6 inch stilettos. They had an extensive list of cocktails – both alcoholic and none. My favourite was the Ginger man – mango juice, mango syrup, frozen sorbet and there should have been a splash of ginger juice… only they were out of ginger juice.
The evening provided the perfect opportunity for us to practise our extremely limited French. Personally I always get embarrassed when people apologise for their limited English as it is always guaranteed to be far more superior to my knowledge of their mother tongue. Someone did point out to me that as I could visit up to 6 counties a year with them all speaking a different language I should be excused for not knowing more that the simply pleasantries. However, the number of times I’ve visited French speaking countries – really, I should know more than basic directions and how to order bread and wine (which I don’t even drink)! None the less, with lots of nodding and some interesting hand gestures, we managed to converse with some locals.



Day 4
After getting to bed at around 5am, I wasn’t able to surface until just before 11am, and spent most of the morning wishing I was still one with my pillow. Thus, the day passed in slow motion. Some last minute shopping, famous Belgian chips with onions and of course, a few bags of Leonidas and I was ready for the journey home.

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