Sunday, March 21, 2010


Despite the flood and being temporarily homeless, MBA and I decided to go ahead with our quick city-break to Belgium. This past Thursday we flew into Brussels-Charleroi, caught the bus in to town, walked to our hotel and were soon very enchanted with the city of Brussels. We stayed at the Eurostar hotel in the neighborhood of Sablon. I recommend this neighborhood. It's close to touristy things but not in the tourist zone -- but it's still got lots to see and do. Sandwiched in between the two Notre Dames of Brussels, the Sablon Square is host to a weekly antique market, tons of permanent antique shops, many chocolatiers, restaurants, bistros, etc. 

Once we were checked in to our hotel, we headed off in search of Brussel's Cathedral: the Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula. Along the way, we walked by Palais de Brussels (Bruxelles in French!),  the Art Museum, Museum of Musical Instruments, the Magritte Museum, and a host of other beautiful buildings. Next we headed toward the area around the Grand Palace. We stopped for frites, strolled down Galeries Royales St-Hubert, bought a bar of chocolate, were awed by the Grand Palace, and then headed back to Sablon for dinner. MBA opted for the traditional moules and frites while I enjoyed boeuf tartare. I hadn't had steak tartare since Paris, so I really loved this treat!
The Cathedral

The Grand Place at Night

We retired early to the hotel and enjoyed watching a movie in English! (It's the little things, people!!!) The next morning we headed out early to catch the train to Bruges. And Bruges really is as charming and beautiful as every one says. Street after street is filled with preserved Medieval cottages, canals, tasteful gardens, historic buildings, and red-brick churches. After wandering the streets, MBA and I took a canal ride for a different view of the "Venice of the North." We then explored more on foot. I simply couldn't get enough of this cute little town! We explored and explored until our feet couldn't take it anymore, so we stopped for frites and ate them in a nearby garden. Gathering steam, we explored a few more churches and planned walks, including a tour of the B├ęguinages home. Then we made another pit stop for Belgium waffles. What a good excuse for a stop!

The canal at the original port in Bruges

Early evening we took the train back to Brussels and stopped for dinner on a street filled with Greek kebab shops. While the official name for the street is Rue due Marche aux Fromages, it's also referred to as Rue des Pittas. How fun is that! By the way, did I mention the glorious temperatures we were experiencing? We ate outside as much as possible. All the cafes were spilling over into the streets. We all could not get enough of the al fresco dining!

Saturday morning we battled a bit of a drizzle but managed to visit Chez Richards for a quick coffee and croissant, both the Notre Dames churches in Sablon, the Sablon gardens and fountain, the antique market (best I've ever been to), and the Brussels Park (Parc de Bruxelles). 
 Antique Market at Place du Sablon

Sablon Gardens

After a quick bite to eat we headed on to the Central Metro to catch a train when I heard someone unzipping my backpack. I whipped around, yelled 'STOP' and started verbally ....... hmmmm ...... what's the word .......... verbally "reaming out" a man who was trying to pickpocket me. The words that I recall coming out of my mouth are: "What are you doing? You're trying to pick pocket me. Show me your hands. Show me your pockets. I'm going to call the politie (police). " I wasn't screaming. But all of the sudden, I was the alpha male of the pack. This guy picked on the wrong girl. Meanwhile, the pick pocket just stood there looking at me. He didn't seem to know English but mumbled something akin to "I'm sorry." What pick pocket stands there and takes a verbal talking-to after attempting to steal from someone??? He was so sheepish and timid when I caught him in the act, and he just stood there while I let him know in English that I wasn't gonna have it. 

{Meanwhile, poor pickpocket doesn't know all he would have gotten was a handful of melatonin, ibuprofen, and maybe some neosporin and a few loose Tums if he was lucky}

Anyway - MBA quickly checked my backpack, made sure the pickpocket hadn't taken anything, and we briskly jumped on the train. 

Guess who else hops on the train? 

The pickpocket. What. The. Heck.

Please tell me - what thief gets caught in the act but his catchers are gracious enough not to call the police (or are potentially headed to catch a flight and can't be bothered to call the police and miss their flight) and carries on by following them on to a train??? 

I used to think thieves run. 

But I've learned ..... go "alpha male" on a thief, and he'll just carry on like nothing every happened.


Fern said...

From one adventure to another! Beautiful pics. I see a chair, a chandelier and a painting I could love at the antique market!

Trudy said...

Oh my goodness! What a crazy time! You go, girlie! Let that guy have it!

Jessica Matz said...

Are you taking all these pictures with your new camera? They are stunning!

Cheryl said...

MBA looks like his mom....searching for a treasure. Love the pictures, they inspire me to travel more!

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