Welcome to Day 2 of Janet and Randy's Brussels Adventure 2016
Monday, December 28th, 2015
We arrived in Brussels and again there were people from further back in the plane that had pushed to the front as they were worried about their connection. Not sure why - as the plane arrived at its scheduled time (actually a bit early). The flight attendant let them off, and then let the front section of business class off and was blocking our aisle. Randy finally had to ask her to move so that we could get off - as we were in business class as well and wanted to get off the plane. Missy seemed a bit clued out.
We quickly went through passport control, and since we only had carry-on, we didn't have to wait for luggage. In the luggage area there were some kiosks for buying train tickets. We stood in line for a bit as the people ahead of us were a little clueless. We finally got our tickets, found an ATM to withdraw some Euros and then headed down to the train. It took a bit to find the right track, but we were finally on the train and heading to central Brussels. I had used Google Maps to plot the route from the Central Station to the Marriott Hotel Grand Place. So, once we found the right exit, I was able to lead us straight to the hotel (it was about a 10 minute walk). Bumping along some very cobbled streets with our rollerbags in tow.
Because of the recent Paris attacks, the hotel had security to get in. We had to walk through a metal detector and have our bags scanned. But that was only when we initially checked in. After that we walked through the metal detector many times and no one cared. I indicated to the front desk clerk that the security at the hotel was more than what was at the airport.
Luckily our room was ready, and we were able to check in right away. We unpacked our bags and as we didn't get any (minimal) sleep on the plane, we lay down for a nap. It was 10:00am when we crawled into bed. It took me a bit to get to sleep, but I managed to sleep for a couple of hours - waking up at 1:00pm. We took a shower and decided to head out and explore.
The first thing we did was go to a phone store (Mobistar) to get a SIM card for our phones. We had a really helpful salesman who had us all set up and ready to go within 15 minutes. Then we just started wandering around Brussels. There is the winter festival on right now (Winter Wonders), and a lot of it was happening right in front of our hotel. Many streets around the hotel were blocked off to traffic and were just for pedestrian traffic. There were various huts set up selling food, booze (beer) and various goods. Our room even faced a main road that the festival was on.
Around 3:00pm I was starting to feel a little weak, so suggested we wander to another area of the winter festival to get a hot chocolate (as I hadn't eaten anything since about 7:00am, and only had a bit of fruit at most). We found this chocolate hut and got some hot chocolate. It was very delicious. We sipped our drinks and wandered around the main part of the Christmas Market. Randy found a Chimay hut that he definitely wants to go back and try out (3pm seemed a bit early to start drinking, and considering the lack of sleep, I could be out before 6pm). There are a couple of really cool carousels and even a Ferris wheel (which we will check out when we aren't so tired).
Around 5:00pm we decided to go get some dinner. Previously during the day we had walked down this quaint little street that had lots of restaurants on it. It was only a couple blocks from the hotel, so we went back. We ended up checking out La Terrasse Bruxelles. They had a special of a starter, main and dessert for 15 Euros. They had a heated patio, so we were able to sit outside and and enjoy a delicious meal.
For the starter, Randy had a vegetable soup and I had a shrimp croquette. For the main, Randy had steak frites, while I had mussels and frites. For dessert we had a Belgian waffle with chocolate sauce and whipped cream. All the food was really good - even though I wasn't able to eat all my mussels!
We wandered around for a bit (stopping at a beer store - 250 Beers), and then managed to catch the light show at the Grand Place at 7:00pm. It was quite amazing (check out our photos and video of it). Then it was back to the hotel where we took it easy and caught up on the travel journal.
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