Daily Archives: June 28, 2018

Day 22: Rest day in Brussels

For breakfast at the hotel there no baked beans, but instead delicious croissants straight out of the oven, with Camembert. Then off to do the laundry, once again remembering to take the iPad to catch up with the blog.

Then back to the hotel for a couple of hours to sort photos, catch up with emails, and a couple of blogs.

The weather is not that warm here, hard to imagine we are only two weeks away from summer.

We went out to have a look around, there are numerous clothes shops, here many of them men’s suit shops with intricate designs on them, at a cost average £750 or £950 for the shirt and tie.

Once again the streets were very busy. We went through one beautiful old shopping centre called The Royal St Herbert Galleries. This was built in 1847 and was one of the first shopping arcades in Europe. It is open 24 hours a day, on the arch at the front it has the motto “omnibus omnia” – “everything to everybody”. IMG_5285.jpg

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We went to the chocolate shop inside Neuhaus and bought some delicious dark orange chocolate.IMG_5284.jpgWe had lunch not far from there at Le Marin Restaurant. I had a really nice tomato soup which came complete with fries. The Flemish diet appears to be a side of fries (frites) with everything. Along with waffle trucks, there are numerous frites shops.

 

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Lunch menu

 

 

After lunch we wandered around the streets, going into the occasional shop but not buying anything as the prices are very high. There were a number of beggars and buskers, plus a few beggars with children. One man had made a whole lot of candle holders out of coke tins for £1 and I bought one of those.

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Grand-Place and the longest shopping strip in Europe

For some reason Brussels has a famous statue of a boy peeing, which was added to later by a girl, then recently a dog. However coming from NZ, I can’t comment as we have a town where their icons are a carrot and another a gum boot.IMG_5289IMG_5288IMG_5290

The refugees are mainly in Brussels and the system is struggling to care adequately for them. There are night shelters run by volunteers that can take up to 500 a night, and hundreds of Belgium families have opened their home to migrant families. One of the issues is the Sudanese and Eritrean migrants don’t want to stay here, they want to get to the U.K. I can’t even begin to imagine what it must be like to be a refugee in a country where I don’t speak the language and have no job, housing or money, and know that going home is not going to be an option.

We had Dinner at the café De Le Opera, I had a hamburger with frites of course. The hamburger was really nice.

On the way back to the hotel we stopped at a Pub called Brasserie Le Corbeau, because I wanted to try a beer in a wooden frame.

In the 18th century Pauwel Kwak both brewed beer and owned a coach Inn. In those days under Napoleonic rule coach drivers were not allowed to drink with the passengers or leave their coach to go into the Inn. So Pauwel designed a wooden holder so beer could be bought back to the drivers and they could drink it while driving, without spilling it. These days the beer is brewed by Brouwerij Bostees and still is served in the wooden frame. The usual percentage is 8.4 so you wouldn’t want to drink too many.IMG_5287

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Day 21: Bruges to Brussels – 101km

101 k mostly on bike paths today.

I would have liked to stay longer in Bruges, the town is a World Heritage Site and I have only seen a very small section of it. When we left Bruges there was a lot of work happening setting up the town square for the crowds who would be watching today’s World Cup football match between Belgium and Panama.

There is hint of possible rain as we set off, but it is not at all cold. Getting out of
Bruges it is very busy with lots of cyclists going fast, and darting in and out of the bike lanes. I am not used to the concept that cars give way to bikes at intersections frequently but not always, I am still working out the rules with this.

We were riding with a number of other riders including Tony and Michele, and Gordon and Karen from Canada. Gordon is a Ed Doc and Karen is a Doctor as well but currently working as a hospital administrator. This is Gordon and Karen’s first TDA trip. I was pushing myself really hard to keep up. Luckily it was pretty flat.

We biked for about 8 km along a canal then rode into Ghent, which is a beautiful old town with some amazing beautiful old buildings.

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Just before lunch we stopped and looked at some amazing animals made out of driftwood – there were horses, Sheep, goats, deer and foxes. They were amazing but not cheap – €1407 for one of the horses.

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IMG_5264After lunch we had a few small towns to go through but mostly quiet through the country side on bike paths.

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The last 7 km coming into Brussels was not too pleasant. Lots of traffic, and lots of trams and tram tracks to look out for. People walking across the road even when bikes had the right of way. Having to cross busy streets getting across the traffic was a bit daunting.

There are lots of refugees, and we rode through one area where there was a large shopping area with lots of people wearing Burqa, Niqab and Khimar.  In 2016 Belgium took about 12,000 refugees which is double the number of the preceding years. The numbers are not big compared to a number of other countries, but most of them live in Brussels.

The Hotel is situated 200 metres from what’s is known as Brussels Grand Place (which is the town square). This area started in 15th century as market halls, guild houses and a town hall. Almost completely destroyed after being bombarded for 3 days in 1695 by the French Amy. A hotch potch of 4 different styles – Gothic, opulent Baroque, Neoclassical and Neo Gothic.

The hotel room has a nice big bath perfect, for a long soak followed by a nana nap*. The room also has a couch plus a separate toilet and a jug to make tea yay. On the downside the view is not so great – we have a view of the hotel heating vents.

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We had arranged to meet Tony and Michele at 6pm in the hotel foyer and we went into the city to find the Delirium Cafe – Claim to fame it has the most different beer in the world available in its bar. 2004 Guinness Book of records listed 2,004 different types!

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While walking there we went past a pub and Belgium had just scored the second goal against Panama – the crowds erupted! We got to the Delirium Cafe with 72 min on the clock and had time to get a Trappist beer (brewed by Monks) and watch the remaining minutes. Belgium score a third goal final score 3:1.

We ended up eating at a place called Le Savarin it was pretty average. Food and drink is really expensive in Belgium and you have to buy bottled water to drink. We started off with Mussels, which again were really small but tasty, followed by steak which had no flavour accompanied of course by frites (chips) and salad.

We then walked back to the hotel, even though it was nearly 10pm the shops are still open and there are crowds of people.

* Editor’s note: Is it still called a “Nana nap” if you are legit a Nana? Isn’t it then just a nap?? 35800793_10155309031965780_3773344793506086912_n.jpg

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