Brilliant Brussels

We caught the Eurostar train (under the Channel) to Brussels via Lille. France was green and lush, just as we remembered, and dotted with charming villages and those ever present church steeples. We arrived in less than two hours at Brussels Midi Station, changed to a metro train to Gare Centrale and walked three minutes to our lovely hotel, the Royal Windsor Hotel at Grand Place. We have certainly learned our way around trains and railway stations.

Brussels is a fabulous city with its ornate historic buildings, beautiful parks and large squares. It just so happened that our weekend here coincided with a number of different festivals across the city including the Garden Festival, the Iris Festival and an environment festival. Naturally the parks were full of people and we watched demonstrations of martial arts, acrobatics and skateboarding as well as little children on a flying fox and various forms of live street art. 
The Grand Place is completely surrounded by magnificent towering buildings hundreds of years old and a selection of restaurants and cafés to suit all tastes. The Military Museum was amazing: such an enormous structure full of planes and helicopters, tanks, model ships and a huge range of guns and swords from many wars around the World. Then there were the hundreds of mannequins dressed in war uniforms and regalia from many countries including Australia, and a portrait gallery worthy of Le Louvre.

We visited the Brussels City Museum with its fascinating history of Brussels detailed in two fantastic models of the city; one portraying the early settlement in the 1300s and the other illustrating the changes by the 17th Century. Just wonderful. The Manneken Pis is of course synonymous with Brussels and the little boy's wardrobe consists of outfits from countries around the world... except it would seem, Australia.

We spent a few hours in the Museum of Musical Instruments where we listened via headphones to music almost from the beginning of time through to modern day, and from a variety of cultures, With several hundred instruments from which to choose, we could have spent all day. We were exhausted after walking for kilometres so on our last day we took advantage of the Hop On Hop Off bus. Unfortunately we didn't get to the Belgian Chocolate tour or the Museum of Natural Sciences, but these are just two reasons for returning.

Once again, as he did in France, Jim enjoyed a huge bowl of local moules (mussels); we had Greek one night, Italian another and even lunched at the Hard Rock Café. Our regular breakfast haunt was EXKI, where we dined on fruit yoghurt, croissants and café American. And of course there was the chocolate…

But what I really loved was being able to practise my French on the unsuspecting Belgians!

Grand Place

The famous 'moules'

One of many restaurant alleys

Grand Place at night

Penny tickling a stranger's moustache

High-end shopping at Galeries Royal St Hubert

Live street art

Grand Place

Manneken Pis

Street music

Museum of Brussels

Museum of Musical Instruments
Garden of the Mont des Artes

Typical houses - view from our hotel room

Breakfast at EXKI

Upstairs at EXKI

Parc Cinquantinaire

Military Museum

Garden Festival
Hitching a ride

Skateboarding and rollerblading

Cobb Salad at Hard Rock Cafe