Chocolate Capital of the World!!

Trip Start Apr 04, 2007
Trip End Oct 22, 2007

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Flag of Belgium  ,
Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Our three days in Brussels have gone by in a bit of a chocolatey haze - we are both feeling tired and run down by this point in our trip, and Brussels has been a great place just to rest up a bit before we hit Scotland for the final leg of our trip. We did have endless trouble finding accomodation here, though, for reasons neither of us totally understand (it's the middle of October, for Pete's sake!!). We did manage to book our first night in a relatively inexpensive hotel which turned out to be in a fairly dodgy area of the city, but it did have free wifi internet and BBC world on the tv, so we couldn't complain too much.

We headed out briefly to see the ornate grandeur of the Grand Place, a huge open square surrounded by buildings and churches dating from the 1600s. Victor Hugo once famously called it "the most beautiful square in the world" - I don't know about the MOST beautiful (Europe is a tough place to apply superlatives to!), but it was gorgeous. We did the touristy thing and took some photos, saw the famous Manekin Pis statue (just like the name, a statue of a small naked boy peeing into a fountain; cool, but much smaller than I thought!) and did some Christmas shopping for family and friends back in Canada. We also stumbled on our best find of the day, a tiny chocolate shop selling 'pick your own' boxes of Belgian chocolates for 4 euros each!! We got two, and headed back to the hotel for a quiet night in with truffles and BBC world, just what we needed!

The next morning we packed up early and set off back to the Tourist Info Centre in Grand Place lugging our backpacks, where the helpful people at the Info Centre promptly found us beds at the HI hostel which had told us they were totally full when we called the night before. Right. By the time we walked there and got checked in, it was almost midday, so we flagged our half-hearted plans to take a day trip to Luxembourg and opted instead to spend the afternoon just wandering the city, going back to Grand Place to admire it with slightly fewer people around, munching crispy, sugar Belgian waffles from a curbside vendor, window shopping at the Railway Gallery (an old railway station converted into upmarket boutique stores) and picking up a few more Christmas presents - Belgian chocolate for everyone! We eventually stocked up on Hoegaarden Rose and groceries and headed back to the hostel to attempt emailing and online job-hunting on the sketchy wireless connection at the hostel, then stayed up late chatting to a bunch of rowdy Aussies and Canadians we met in the communal kitchen, eventually excusing ourselves when the talk turned to dodgy-sounding mushroom binges in Amsterdam.

Today, we checked out the fabulous Beaux Art Museum for our culture fix, then stocked up on yet more chocolates, grabbed another waffle or two and headed back to the hostel to repack in preparation for our ultra-cheap Ryan Air flight to Scotland tomorrow. Unfortunately ultra-cheap means that you pay horrendously for luxurious extras like luggage, so the goal is to lose several kilograms of weight from our packs - I'm pretty sure toothpaste and clean socks aren't technically 'necessary' anyway!

All our best from Belgium

Dan and Gabrielle
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