Friday, August 20, 2010


Grand Place, Brussels

Last month, my friend Leslie and I arrived in Brussels, Belgium to kick off our 17 day trip to Brussels and Brugge in Belgium;  and London and Oxford in England.  After two flights and two trains we arrived without any hiccups.  Happily, neither of us suffer from jet lag when we are traveling east bound.  So we were able to hit the ground running (once we actually hit the ground!)

St. Pancras Train Station, London, England

It's always great fun to travel by train--no navigation skills, no worrying about which exit to take.  Just sit back and relax until you see that black and white sign announcing your destination.  We arrived in London, via the Heathrow Express, and from Paddington station quickly cabbed it over to St. Pancras station to board the Eurostar bound for Brussels.  It's about a 2 hour trip and we arrived in Brussels around 5:30 pm.

View from our hotel room, Brussels 

After checking in to our sad little hotel room (happy it was for only one night), we immediately headed to the Grand Place (prounced "gran plas").  Europe has the best town squares, and this one is quite grand. Belgian chocolate was on our mind so we stopped first at Neuhaus and purchased some of the best chocolate both of us have ever had.  My favorite piece, Caprice (Wafer thin nougatine shells filled with vanilla fresh cream and coated with dark chocolate.)

After exploring the town square we were ready for dinner at La Maree.  One of the best ways to find a good restaurant is to ask the locals, which we did.  And we were told several times to go to this place and it was divine.  I had a steaming bowl of Moules and Frites (mussels and fries)  with tomatoes, peppers, onions, in an excellent broth.  It is traditionally served with a big bowl of frites--double fried and usually served with mayonnaise (skipped the mayo, ate the fries).  Leslie had excellent cod and frites.

It's great to be out early in the morning--not too many people stirring. And you can get a real feel for the city or town that you are visiting.  Only a few cafes and bakeries were open--pastry for breakfast, only on vacation!

The ornamentation of the buildings always catch my eye. 

Early morning activitiy--setting up the flower market.

Loved the tops of these buildings. One of our guidebooks made a cute joke about all these figures pointing and laughing at each other.

Royal Palace, Brussels

After finishing up in the lower town of Brussels, we cabbed it up to the upper portion. 

The Royal Palace must run two city blocks--it is enormous.

Don't know the name of the above garden, but it was perfectly maintained. 

While we enjoyed Brussels, both Leslie and I think three hours is about all you need.  We were there for less than 20 hours.  We left around noon taking the train (one hour) to Brugge where we stayed for four nights.  Heaven.

Next post:  Brugge, Belgium


  1. Lovely photos, glad you enjoyed Brussels. I've been to both places, hope you enjoy Bruges, it's really pretty and the chocolates are too die for along with the gorgeous pancakes!!!!

  2. Thanks for your comment. I LOVED Brugge. We had a grand time. I will soon post about that portion of the trip. Loved the chocolate and loved the sites--so pretty.

  3. Kim I got all of my Penguin Journeys from The Book Depository. They are based in the UK and ship worldwide for free. The only one I couldn't get because it was out of stock was A Shropshire Lad, but managed to get that from a woman in Australia who had a spare copy.

    I once saw on someone's blog that there is a boxed version, but I have never been able to find it anywhere else and I don't remember where I saw it.

  4. I'm glad we went to Brussels first and then Brugge. It was a good primer for what was to come!

  5. So glad you posted these photos -- amazing. What a great start to the trip! (Can't believe you didn't use your 'mussels in Brussels' quip though.) :-)

  6. Beautiful photos! I especially love the view from your window and the flower market!