November 4, 2014
When it comes to traveling and waking up on time to catch a flight or some kind of reservation I’m good at it. For the first time EVER, I woke up late and didn’t have enough time to get ready! Our heavy “picnic” dinner the night before at almost 11pm combined with a long day of hauling our behinds all throughout the city was the result of what happened this morning! I set my alarm for 5:00am to get up and shower and do my makeup. I woke up and stupidly hit snooze so I ended up not actually getting out of bed until 6:00am! I always, always, always shower in the morning but with our 7:25am train from Gare Du Nord to Brussels I didn’t have enough time. I took 5 minutes to do my makeup, roll Anthony out of bed and we were out the door by 6:15am. We ran the 6-8 blocks from our hotel to the Saint-Michel-Notre-Dame RER B station. Once there we sprinted through the tunnel looking like crazies to catch the next train headed toward the Gare Du Nord station. We got in line to go through customs which luckily only took about 10 minutes. We were on the train at 7:20am and departed Paris at 7:25am.
There is a first for everything….I’ve never had to run to catch any flight or train up until this day. What a stressful experience that I hope to never have to go through again!
Anthony & I knocked out on the train and 1.5 hours later we were in Belgium! After getting our much needed beauty rest, we got out of the station and headed to the information desk to ask how to get to the city center from Bruxelles Midi. I’m sad to report that they were unfriendly and unhelpful. Luckily I had read on the Tripadvisor forums how to catch a connecting train and just went with my gut feeling. In no time we were finally in the city center!
We had such good luck with weather the entire time we were in Italy and the first few days of Paris. Our luck had run dry though as this day it was rainy the entire time. On the way to the cafe, we stopped by Paul Cafe for a cafe au lait & plain croissant to give us some energy. Heading toward the Grand Place we stopped along some souvenir and local chocolate shops to browse and take pictures. We finally made it to the Grand Place which was #1 on my to-do list. It was grander in person (haha) and a beautiful sight especially for photographers! Next up was to see the Mannekin Pis and I was excited to see what he was wearing. Unable to open up my tripadvisor app, we followed a group of school kids hoping they’d be going toward the Mannekin Pis. We walked, made a pit stop for some belgian waffles and right around the corner from the waffle shops was the Mannekin Pis and the school kids :).
Continuing to follow the school kids on their tour, we got to see one of the oldest running restaurants dating back to the mid-16th century in Brussels! Had we not followed the school kids, we wouldn’t have seen this. Score!
After leaving our unofficial tour group, we trekked up the hill and stumbled upon two churches. We walked the quiet local streets and did some shopping. The 2nd thing on our to-do list that we absolutely had to complete was try real belgian frites. To escape the rain we decided to eat-in at Frit-n-Toast. Boy it did not disappoint! Those were the best fries I have ever had in my 25 years of living. Each bite was crispy and not greasy. Even when the fries cooled down there was still a crunch in every bite! It has been months later and we still talk about those frites. Being the fatties we are, we decided to look for a place to have lunch before our afternoon train ride back to Paris.
We opted for a restaurant serving local Belgian cuisine. I don’t remember the name of the restaurant but I remember it was a restaurant in the Michelin guide. The meal was underwhelming with little flavor and salt. The highlight of our 3 course meal was the dessert which was the raspberry and pear sorbet. For our starter we had the soup du jour and duck pate. For our entree Anthony got the moules in white wine sauce and I had chicken in creamy sauce. For dessert Anthony got the creme brûlée and I had the sorbet.
After lunch we went back to the street filled with souvenir and chocolate shops to buy some goodies to bring home for friends and family. After an hour we started to walk back to the closest station to take us back to Bruxelles Midi. Of course we got lost as all the streets started to look the same! We asked some locals to point us in the right direction and after listening to them we were lost for 10-15 minutes! Panicking and with only 30 minutes left before our train departure (NOT AGAIN….) we backtracked to where we had lunch and luckily found a public train station. We asked the attendant who led us in the right path and in about 15 minutes we were at Bruxelles Midi, boarding the train that would take us back to Paris.
On the way back from the RER B station to our hotel room, we stopped by our favorite bakery La Parisienne for a fresh baguette, flan and a raspberry creme cake to picnic in our room again. Feeling exhausted and not wanting to out out to eat we stayed in. We enjoyed another picnic dinner with the rest of the meat & cheese, mango juice and the goodies we just purchased. While eating we were entertained by French music videos & French reality TV.
Overall, I had a nice day trip in Brussels. I’m thankful I didn’t extend the day trip to 2 days & one night as I felt like we had enough time in those 8 hours to do what we wanted. It is a small, charming city but there isn’t a whole lot to do. We had a lovely time in Brussels despite the horrible weather. The city is peaceful & calm in the rain, which was a nice change from how busy Paris is during daylight.
Tomorrow….well something happens that will change my life forever. 🙂