A Travellerspoint blog

April 2007

Update coming soon! Promise!

sunny 23 °C
View Our Big Adventure on StephenJen's travel map.

Okay - so apologies to those few who have been hopefully logging on to this site to see the much anticipated Belgium trip and other adventures detailed!

For the Evans and Winkley families - you know the crazy mis-adventures we have been having over the past 6 or so weeks, but for those that dont... look forward to the updates on our new flat (we "grew out" of the old one), our trip to Belgium, Jens hospital adventure, Stephens job as a receptionist, "London Swelters in a heatwave" and a beautiful day at Richmond Park to name a few....

We are staying at the Hilton at the moment (how posh!) and moving into our new place Monday & Tuesday with our best buddy Dave so will get our internet sorted out and update the site the second we do!

Hope you are all well and look forward to more email from each and everyone of you - its always nice to get news from home - though Aunty Kath - you need not have gotten into a car crash to get one from us - we would have sent you one anyway! Hope you are feeling better and that Arthur is waiting on you hand and foot (sorry Arthur....)

Take care all and we will update properly soon

Love Always & Missing You all Heaps

Jen & Stephen

Posted by StephenJen 11:08 Archived in England Tagged events Comments (1)

Waffles, Beer & Chocolate

Adventures in Belgium

sunny 20 °C
View Our Big Adventure on StephenJen's travel map.

Let us warn you - some images in this blog may be offensive to some readers - the blog contains graphic images and descriptions of ridiculous amounts of chocolate and beer. You have been warned.

So we went to Brussels on good friday - arriving early on a lovely warm day and checking into our awesome hotel. We have come to not expect too much from our hotels that are often included with budget flights (star ratings mean nothing overhere) and we are usually pretty happy. This time we were ecstatic. We got there and were staying in an NH Hotel which is a (real) 4 star place... it was clean, safe and service was awesome!

So after checking in we went for breakfast of Chocolate waffles and sat to adjust to a new country. Stephen prepared himself to again be the French interpreter and as always - did marvellously for the duration of the trip.

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Brussels

We wandered around town for the first day, takiing in sites like the Grand Place, the shopping strip, had more waffles and started our beer tasting... mainly fruit beers which have become our favourites!

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Stephen in Brussels

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Brussels

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Bon Homme

We met this little guy called Bon Homme (good boy) begging in a street in Brussels for money for food. His owner was sitting off to one side and looked suspiciously like Hunter S Thompson (but alive). He was so good, and it worked on us as we popped a few coins in his kick - mainly just an excuse to pat him really... VERY CUTE.

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Kettle collection in a waffle house
One thing we noticed about Belgium was that the place is very good at making things just that little more interesting, like the kettle collection in a waffle house.... things like this are everywhere in Brussels particularly. They are just so good at building and displaying things just a bit more creatively - a stark contrast to London - where everything is the same! There is great art in the streets and the shops are so much cooler and unique...

Another good thing about Belgium is the chocolate. It feels like every second shop is a chocolatier or candy shop. The whole place smells of chocolate and they realy take it very seriously there - i thought i was serious about chocolate but they are just crazy!

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A big easter egg in Brussels. They get bigger - much bigger.

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Like a kid in a candy store....

There are so many beautiful old buildings in Belgium and there are cobblestones everywhere - which look beautiful but do have a tendency to wear the feet out of weary tourists.

The place is like postcard in every direction and really like the romantic image we had of Big European cities... without so much progress and modernisation as Paris has...

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Stephen in Brussels

We headed off to Brugge for a day for the Chocolate Festival and to have a look around. Its only an hour on the train from Brussles. If we thought that Brussels was nice, Brugge was amazing. Brugge still has horses and carts, cobbled streets (of course), lace-makers, people getting everywhere on pushbikes and yet more chocolatiers. Though there were a lot of tourists - its not hard to see why. Sounds corny but it really has managed to keep a kind of "old world charm" about it.

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Stephen just off the train to Brugge
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Streetscape in Brugge

So - we paid 10 Euro to get into the Chocolate Festival - and it was worth every bit. We grabbed a showbag and picked up samples from most of the people displaying their wares. There were chocolates everywhere to taste, displays on people doing chocolate sculpture, painting with chocolate, a guy painting chocolate on nude woman, and HUGE sculptures out of chocolate .... the smell was overpowering but it only made us more hungry for the good stuff.

We watched in awe (and with our mouths watering) as a guy created a chocolate Pinocchio to go with his already completed Giupetto. Amazing. That was just one of many amazing sculptures we saw that day (see the pics of these by clicking on the link at the bottom of the page).

We did actually show some restraint when we purchased a couple of eggs for friends and workmates from the Guilian stall - and our restraint was rewarded with 4 extra huge eggs as a bonus with our purchases. They were doing us no favours - as by this stage we were already wondering how we could possible get so much chocolate through customs at Heathrow on our return!

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Jen with the loot after the chocolate festival

We loved Brugge and took so many photos there as we walked around and took our canal boat tour. It was such a nice place - and i suspect it would be even quieter on a weekday... so can highly recommend if anyone is visiting Europe to add Brugge to the list of places to see.

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Us in Brugge (hiding the chocolate behind us)

We headed back to Brussels and spent some more time exploring the city by foot.

I was very excited to visit the Brussels Beer museum - as i thought that it would be something that i could really get into.... but i was wrong. We paid our 5 euro entry and walked in. We saw a few modern beer making machines with very little explanation of what they are used for, watched a video in french, and looked for the rest of the museum - and realised that there was no more. There were other displays that were not working and others inside looked as confused as we were.... We left feeling very disappointed and then realised that we had not been given a beer like everyone else had - supposed to be included in the price apparently.... ah well....

We headed off and found a great restaurant down a cobbled laneway and spoilt ourselves with a beautiful meal and more fruit beer. Stephen fought the Mussels from Brussels (and won) and i had the best steak i have ever had (not including Dads BBQ steaks which i love). Very tasty. Public transport in Belgium is very affordable - you can buy an all day ticket for about 2.50 euro and use it on trams, trains and buses - and its very smooth compared to the Tube too... a very nice ride!

Anyway - we explored the Brussels flea market and though we did not actually see any fleas, we saw some awesome old jewellery, and kitsch furniture and homewares that would sell for loads at home. We also stumbled across a castle in the middle of the city that was closed and had no sign explaining what it was. After doing some research we found out that it was one of the last standing gates that surrounded the city. Quite random as it was just standing in a neglected part of town surrounded by cheap shops and not much else.

So we headed back to London and successfully got through Customs with our haul of chocolate (it was somewhat depleted for some reason), and were amazed that it actually took us more that twice the time to get through Heathrow as it did to get from Belgium to England on a plane.

Remind us never to go away on a long weekend again! Next time we have decided we will register for the Iris Recognition system - allows you to check yourself through immigration - past the queues of people waiting impatiently with their passports in hand.... (and its a bit James Bond - which we like...)

So as you can see - there are not a great deal of photos on this blog - because our site upload limit has not allowed us to show you more - but if you click here - you will see our full album from this trip - definitely worth the look - but that chocolate warning still stands.....

Posted by StephenJen 02:37 Archived in Belgium Tagged family_travel Comments (3)

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