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Published: March 3rd 2008
Another weekend, another excuse to bugger off to the continent and play in another little corner of the world. So Friday right after work it was back to Stanstead, but no train hitches for a change. Check in, laze around and then before you know it a mere 45m after you leave ... Belgium. I flew to Brussels Chareloi Airport, which is about 45 mins from the City, so it was onto the bus then a rather circuitous taxi ride to my hostel near the centre of the city. It's the first time I've had a taxi driver ask me if I wanted to go for a drink, but luckily it was upon arrival at the hostel so I was able to graciously refuse and seek sanctuary within it's walls. I was arriving after checkin closed so in a very technical manner my keycard was in a piece of paper under the mat ... if you're ever needing a room, just check there and find a free bed for the night.
Day 1 was Brussels and what better way to enjoy it than to head off in the search for my favourite Brussels man (or boy!), Tintin and his trusty
Tintin ... I found him
have building will find a place for a cartoon
sidekick Snowy. So it was straight off to the Comic Museum, through Place des Martyrs and through the quiet early morning (well 9ish) streets. I spent a good hour wandering around looking at the development of the comic book (I had an english book to help) and lingered long over the development of Herge and his creations.
After that it was off to visit the Cathedral and wander the streets of the city centre, through the Grote Markt and off to find Brussels famous son ... the Manneken Pis ... a small, but anatomically interesting fountain! Culturally you've got to hand it to the Belgium ... comics, little boys peeing ... oh and don't forget chocolate (yep had some of that!). The joys of the visit by yourself is just wandering and enjoying yourself without having to follow any agenda except your own, so if you want to linger over lunch and the odd glass of Cherry Biere or stop and have a waffle it is a perfectly acceptable way to spend some time!! My day in Brussels didn't follow any path, rather it was just about having a look and finding quiet parts of the city to stop
and contemplate life ... deep huh ... oh and find as many cartoons on walls as I could. I managed to round out the day with a relaxed meal of mussels and Biere before a quiet night in the hostel!
Day 2, I figured I'd done enough wandering around Brussels so I decided to jump a train to Ghent in Flanders. Ghent is a little medieval town about half way between Brussels and Brugge and it only takes about 35 minutes so easy for a little day trip. Being quite a small town, it's easy to wander around the Centre and soak up the atmosphere. At one stage I just sat in the square near the Belfry and listened to the bells - very nice. The highlight of course was a visit to the Gravensteen or Ghent's little castle and a chance to run around some battlements, turrets and basements ... not to mention a little torture museum (big, big guillotine - looked mighty sharp too!). The afternoon was spent visiting the Cathedral (a little overdone) and my favourite church St Nicholas which was filled with the afternoon sun streaming in and organ music playing. After that what was
I had coffee just down there
to be done except find a place in the sun by the canal and enjoy a relaxed coffee and crepe while watching the world go by.
Late afternoon I headed back to Brussels for a last wander before packing up and finding my way to the train station for the bus back to the Airport, flight and then an attempt to find my way back home from Stanstead. Stanstead express arrived at Liverpool St 10mins after the last Northern Line tube, so only 3 buses, 2 changes later I got home somewhere around 1am ... note to self, don't book late flights. So tired, but alive my latest adventure was over and it is back to London life!
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