Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Je ne comprends pas?!

This became a frequently used expression over the weekend as Traveller and her husband embarked on their first European adventure - to Brussels, Belgium! For those of you surprised by this adventure - yes, it was unplanned. It was a last minute, impetuous decision made at midnight last Thursday evening when hubbie discovered some cheap deals on the net. Traveller, of course, got zero sleep on Thursday night as she was positively busting with excitement! Hooray - our first trip!

That Friday we made all our plans, and then took the Heathrow Connect train from Paddington to Heathrow. We arrived in Belgium and quickly realised that we no longer understood anything or anyone! (Although, much to hubbie's annoyance, Traveller did spend the whole trip from London to Belgium learning as many French phrases as she could while practicing them aloud in her most obnoxious French accent - well, hey 'Je ne comprends pas' (I don't understand) came in very handy!

We somehow found our way into Brussels via a train and then dropped our stuff at our very cheap, swanky hotel (we love lastminute.com!). It was around 11:30 at night, and Traveller was desperate for some nosh - so we traipsed through the town looking for some famous Belgian fries and some beer. It was freezing, and wet as it had been snowing all day - so we found the closest open restaurant and ate, before turning in for the night.

Much to our delight - the sun came out on Saturday and we were blessed with a very lovely day. We started the day off right with chocolate waffles from a nearby vendor - and boy, were they delicious! This was not a good weekend for Traveller's waistline. We then took a train to Waterloo - the famous battlesite where the Duke of Wellington defeated Napolean in the 1800's. We had found out the previous day that they were doing re-enactments all weekend, so Hubby was super excited for a day of remembering and watching fighting. As we found the site it was clear where our thoughts differed - Hubby was dreaming of war and guns and becoming increasingly more boisterous, while Traveller was busy humming a certain Abba song and dancing her heart out (in her thoughts, of course). However, much to both our enjoyment, the battleground was breathtaking - the green expanse and the famous image of the lion on the hill were impressive. The most fun part was yet to come, however, with the re-enactments featuring men dressed in traditional costume completing cavalry training, which included chopping cabbages with swords! Very amusing!

We then had lunch at a nearby traditional pub - which served Belgian food and this was where we had our first beer. Belgium is famous for its beer (over 800 varieties) - and Hubby was most excited as he found one that he actually liked. Forgive him for his girly tastes readers because, yes, it was a pink, fruity beer!

From here, we went back to Brussels, had our first Belgian fries with mayonnaise and toured the city. It truly is a beautiful city - and sites such as Grand Place, Brussels Park and the Royal Palace did not disappoint. Our most favourite part was the architecture of the city and its unique nature where half of its citizens speak Dutch and the other half speak French, so everything is written in both languages. This truly makes for interesting navigating!

So that is the tale of the first couple of stamps in our passports - all in all, Brussels was a surprising and merry adventure and Traveller really can't wait for the next one!

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