Sunday, 29 March 2009

March 2009 roadtrip: part 1 - Brussels

So after a short break of only 2 years, here is my second ever blog!! Rather than sticking all the pics from me, Rich & Sean's road trip on facebook I thought I'd stick them on here - to remind me what was taken where/when more than anything else.

I started off by feeding Adam's fish and creepy albino frog...

...which tried to impress me by recreating the poster for Oliver Stone's 1986 war epic 'Platoon'

But I had bigger fish to metaphorically fry.
Although why fry fish when you can have lovely coffee and walnut cake and cappuccino for £3 in Dover?

Mmmm, cake good.

So after leisurely walking around Dover in the sunshine, setting off towards the ferry terminal, realizing I didn't know where it was just as I got a call from Rich saying we had to be in the queue to board in 10mins...

...I ran around like a lunatic and eventually found them - and we got on the ferry!

Bye England!

We still didn't actually know where we were going to go from Calais. Obviously towards Amsterdam in a roundabout way, but otherwise we had no fixed plans. Sean's rough guide gave us a few ideas, so Rich had a look...

While me and Sean posed...
Then we nipped inside the ferry to finalise plans, while Sean started as he meant to go on.

Mmm, expensive ferry beer.

Our bible.

Just before the ferry gates opened and we had to drive out, we decided our first destination would be...

Brussels - capital of the EU!

In order to get there though, we had to spend a while driving through some very flat, very boring bits of northern France...

...and then equally boring bits of Belgium.

Although this cheeky chappy decided to reverse into Rich's brand new car - twice (!) at a Belgian petrol station. He was old, and wearing orange trousers - indifferent and bemused by the affair. Rich was angry. I was frantically trying to take a decent spy picture of the man in question. This evidence would suggest I'd make a rubbish Panorama reporter.

Eventually, we arrived in Brussels.

Brussels is busy, and blury.

And with a naive display of confidence, we decided to march off to the best looking hostel from our Rough Guide & see if they had any beds. At around 9pm on a Saturday...

They tutted and shook their heads (in Belgian)...

...and finally managed to find a spare bed to squeeze into a double room!


dumped our stuff and set off to find the restaurant recommended by out hostel hosts, 'Chez Leon'. Turns out mussels are big in Brussels. Vegetarianism not so much, but hey, it was nice enough.


We then went in search of beer, but got mildly distracted by Culture.

But as lovely as the Culture was, it was non-alcoholic, and we'd had a long day.
Beer was due - and thankfully we managed to find the other place recommended to us by our lovely hosts. Called Delirium, it was a cool bar, pretty big, with loads of young tourists and locals - but the main thing was the bar itself:

Over 2000 varieties of beer good enough for ya?
They have thick, binded beer 'menus' which are more like manuals, but it was pretty busy & we couldn't be bothered with searching through them, so we just ended up pointing to a random pump (none of them were labeled) and saying 'three of them, please!' (Or trois bières, s'il vous plaît) - as everyone in Brussels speaks French, as well as damn good English.

Sean's favourite beer. Also Rich's least favourite beer.

Using my singstar knowledge to make friends, I spoke Alphabeat to some Danish people. Sean imagined Rich playing a tiny, invisible guitar.

Then I spoke drunk French to some drunk French people.

After that it was time for some well-earned sleep.

We headed out the next day to get a better look at the Culture...

-which is mostly situated in the city's Grand Place, dominated by a magnificent 15th Century gothic cathedral.

This is not culture, however. I'm suitably ashamed.

This awesome chocolate shop was staffed by someone kind enough to give us three free chocolates each. She tried to get us to guess her nationality - even giving us the clue that she was from a latin-speaking European country, but all of our guesses were rubbish.
She was Romanian, and gave us sympathy chocolates before Sean bought a box & we set off to our next destination, and our next country.

Goodbye, sunny Brussels!