Thursday, August 23, 2012

Brussels, Belgium

Brussels happened to be our beginning and ending city of our 12 days European road trip. We had reserved for an automatic compact car at the airport from Avis. At the pickup counter, we were told all they had was an automatic economy which would not fit all of us plus the luggages. We're thinking we paid for the compact and yet we're getting an economy? The lady at the counter said in hard to understand English that Avis only have one price category for all automatic cars. The car you get depends on their availability and there's no guarantee that it's the type that was reserved. This didn't make sense to us and we protested. Fifteen minutes later, the phone rang saying a compact car had just came in and it's ours. Thank goodness for that.
After we picked up the car and armed with google maps print out, we headed to our hotel. What should've been a 20 min car ride took us over an hour. We had no problem getting into the city, it's trying to figure out the city streets that we had a hard time with. It's so easy to miss the street signs painted on the building walls. Some streets were either blocked, one way, short, narrow or windy. After circling around for 30 minutes and asking numerous people for directions and going nowhere, we decided we had to find a photo place to buy an European GPS device for 90 euros, still cheaper than renting from Avis. That GPS, Serena, was my best friend for 12 days. Without her, this road trip would've been a nightmare.

                                                               This is Serena!
                                      
Roll past the initial glitch in our road trip, Brussels is the city of Belgian waffles, fries, mussels, Manneken Pis, chocolates, laces, Grand Place, St Michael and Gudula Cathedral, St Catherine's Cathedral, St Catherine's Place and Royal galleries of St. Hubert, just to name a few. Feels like a kid around  Brussels with so many chocolate, candy, nougats, cookies and pastries stores- the aromas and colors make them so irresistible. I was ducking in and out of these stores to buy a little of this and that just to curb my sweet tooth.
Not forgetting its local muenster cheese which actually tastes better than its smell (like stinky tofu) and look. The cheese was bought at a local cheese shop. I left it in my handbag while I was sight-seeing and forgot all about it. I kept getting this funky smell everywhere I walked. I said to my husband, " Why does Brussels stink everywhere I go?" My better half replied, " It must be the "pee boy"- Mannekin Pis. He must be pissing around." At the end of the day, the smell followed me back to the hotel. Upon dumping out all the contents of my handbag, we finally realised where the smell came from.  Needless to say, my kids thought that was one of the most hilarious thing of the trip.

Square in front of our hotel- one block from the Grand Place. We parked our car and walked. Had a great time exploring the surrounding areas.
Royal galleries of St. Hubert- indoor pedestrian walk
Grand Place- definitely spend some time here admiring the beautiful structures and people watching.
Grand Place- wish we had more time here
St. Michael and Gudula Cathedral
Gothic carvings at St Michael and Gudula Cathedral
St Catherine's Cathedral at St Catherine's Place- lots of restaurants in this area
Macarons- had better ones at Sprungli's in Zurich
Mussels in celery and white wine broth- ordinary, forgettable
One euro waffles and chocolate manneken pis- just a few steps away from the real statue
Colorful fruit candies- so pretty
Laces
                                                      Bags of gold- sweet pastries

                           
So many goodies, so little time and tummy space

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