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Blog: Belgium is BRILL
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Cor! Brussels! It's ACE! Also: DISCONCERTING. It's a whole country that I didn't really know much about and, perhaps most significantly, we do not have much in the way of Stereotypes about. INDEED the only stereotype i DID know, that Belgium Is Boring, turned out to be massively and totally INCORRECT, as it was GRATE!
We kicked off by meeting some Family Friends - during and/or after World War Two (it seems unclear which) my Grandad was stationed in Belgium and became friends with a family and stayed in touch for the rest of his and my Nan's life, and since then efforts have been made to remain so, and I have to say that this is BRILLIANT as it lead to us going out for the evening with Christian and Brigitte, who were FAB. OH what a lovely evening we had, drinking the beer, putting the world to rights, and then drinking some more BEER. You know BEER? The Belgians are VERY GOOD AT IT. Over the course of four days I drank Chimay Bleu, Orval, Hopul, Duvel, Chimay Rouge, Chimay Bleu, Leffe Blond, Grimbergen Blond, Leffe Brun, Jupiler, Zot, Kwak, Delirium, XX Bitter and Rodenbach and ALL but the last two were DELICIOUS. This Strong Belgian Beer is VERY different to Strong British Beer in that it is NICE, but GOLLY, it doesn't half make you tiddly!
We went on our usual Open Top Bus Trip (which WEIRDLY occurred during Car Free Day, so all of Brussels was full of family on bicycles and skateboards), had a Coach Trip to Ghent and Bruges, and perhaps most fun of all went to Mini Europe and The Atomium. Mini Europe is LIKE a Model Village except it contains scenes from EVERY country in Europe, and also goes ON and ON and ON about how FANTASTIC Europe is. Coming from this country it was a little disconcerting to be somewhere that trumpeted The European Ideal so fulsomely. Europe, apparently, is the cure for ALL ILLS!
The Atomium was my FAVOURITE tho, i think - my Grandparents used to have a little model Atomium on their fireplace so I have been familiar with it forever, but to actually SEE it in all its massive glory was something else, and then to go INSIDE was incredible. It really is an impressive and BEAUTIFUL sight, especially when you're in one of the tubes, looking out of the windows. I would even go so far as to say it is BETTER than The Eiffel Tower. Because it IS!
In fact I think I preferred it ALL to Paris - it's strange to be somewhere I know so little about and to find it so wonderful, and as I said earlier also to be in a NATION of people where we didn't know what to expect. When you go to France you know people will generally be A Bit French, also Spain, Germany, Holland, Italy etc etc but Belgium was a funny mix of French STYLE, German BUSINESSLIKENESS, Dutch GROOVINESS and then something else, kind of a New York-y ISH aspect of being friendly ENOUGH, but not stopping to chat. It was pretty much exactly what you'd WANT from a capital city, feeling FRIENDLY without making you feel like it would be RUDE not to stop and chat with everyone.
Also: their national drink is BEER and their national foodstuff is CHIPS. What's not to like?
Also also, maybe even better than the Atomium, our hotel was BLOODY LOVELY. The Rooms In My Suite got us a DEAL with Eurostar so it was quite POSH - The Crowne Plaza PALACE, in fact - but also FRIENDLY. We went to the bar every night (hence all the beers!) and on the the last night the barman said "See you tomorrow?" It was almost HEARTBREAKING to have to say "No" to him, as we'd have really liked to be back at the bar again.
But no, next day we had a trip round the Botanique Gardens (which, like all of experience of Belgium, we knew nothing abotu, was not particularly heralded, but turned out to be GORGEOUS) and then HOPPED on the Eurostar. Getting there and back was SO peasy (it's pretty much the same time as it takes to get to LEEDS), especially going from St Pancras, that it seems NAUGHTY not to try and do it a bit more often. Hopefully we will, for LO! Belgium is BRILL!
posted 23/9/2011 by MJ Hibbett
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Brilliant! I love this post cos I'm going to Belgium in a few weeks Woooo (Walloon region - did you go there?) http://wp.me/p1QOy3-F
posted 23/9/2011 by Sara Bodinar
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