Thursday, January 17, 2013

ET 2.02 - Brussels, Belgium (Day 1)

Actual date of this event: 31 December

After Luke and I had grabbed one last crepe from Paris, we headed to Gare du Nord (north station) for a train to Brussels, Belgium. We reserved seats on a high speed train for 12:55pm, so we arrived 1hr 20min later.
Left: crepes for breakfast after eating breakfast!
Right: Luke and I make sandwiches for lunch everyday - some pretty good ones too!   

Our first experience in Brussels was sorta a funny one. In Brussels, the main language is French, as for other parts of Belgium, it is Dutch. We had read these things online previously, so Luke was prepared to continue practicing his French, but you never know how it is going to be until you are there. While waiting in line of about 10 people to purchase metro tickets, the ticket attendant was waving at us. We had no idea what he was saying and frankly, I didn't want to because I didn't know if we would be able to understand him. Turns out he was telling us to cut off the line after us. So somehow we were supposed to tell anyone who can and stood behind us that the line was closed. You have got to be kidding me?! So for 5 minutes, we has to ask, "Um, excusez moi. Parlez vous anglais?" (excuse me, do you speak English?) And then proceed to explain as best as we could that the line was closed. We had multiple people tell us they didn't speak English, but then talked in English. Finally, Luke went up to the attendant and asked him what the word for closed was. He sure chose the wrong people to be last in his line!

Anyway, our train stopped at Brussels Midi (south station), but we were able to use our train tickets to get us to Brussels Centraal (central station) which was just around the corner from our hotel. We stayed at Hotel Exe Sablon located at Rue de la Paille 2 for our whole stay in Belgium. It was in a terrific location! It had a separate toilet room, a hair dryer from who knows what century and a small refrigerator. In the morning, we could hear noise from trucks on the street, but other than that, the hotel was great for our stay. 
Left: the hair dryer I used for 5 days - the cord was only 2 ft long and the counter stuck out 2 ft    

After we put our stuff down, we grabbed a few road beers and went out exploring before celebrating the New Year...

Manneken Pis - A small fountain of a little boy peeing. I expected it (the fountain) to be bigger than it was... the boy is only about two feet tall. Someone puts a new outfit on the boy each day.

Grand Place-Grote Markt - The main square of Brussels where Town Hall is located. It is a fun and beautiful sight! Every couple of years, the open ground is covered with a "blanket of flowers" (click to see a picture).

General Walking - We didn't have much of an agenda, so we wondered around going in and out of chocolate shops, specialty beer stores, down restaurant filled side streets, etc.

We stopped for a few beers, some dinner, grabbed some chocolates, and then noticed some quirky music coming from the town square. At night, the buildings light up and play music with the flickering of the lights. It is one of the more unique things we have seen while traveling.

We went back to the hotel to rest for a few hours before midnight because a fireworks show was taking place at the train station. Since we are just around the corner from the train station, we didn't leave until 11:45. It was raining pretty good, but it was fun! With so many languages surrounding us, it was fun to listen to the countdown to midnight. Here are a few videos to show some of our New Year celebration:
Party time before mid-night:
Countdown to mid-night:
Fireworks after mid-night:

The firework display took place in between buildings, which to me seemed really dangerous. It lasted for 20 minutes and about 10 minutes of it was like a finale. We headed back to the hotel when the fireworks ended. Big partiers we are! We were expecting everything to be closed on New Year's Day, but that wasn't going to stop us. We still had a whole day of exploring the rest of Brussels to do, and we needed to rest up for that. 

Happy New Year y'all!!

Other posts on Brussels: Post 2, Wrap-Up

The Belgians came up with the name French Fries. They eat them with mayo not ketchup.



  1. I used to eat my fries with mayo only and I LOVE Belgium beer. Guess I'm a Belgium at heart:)

  2. What a cool New Year's experience! The fireworks in the square were so pretty. Thanks for sharing!


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