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”.
We went to the chocolate shop inside Neuhaus and bought some delicious dark orange chocolate.We 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.
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.
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.
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.