This past Saturday, Scotty and I caught a train to Brussels! It’s the first time we’ve done that since moving to Paris, and I have to say, it is so nice tobe able to train to other countries. Seriously, so much better than flying. After four years of traveling around Europe via low-cost air carriers like Ryan Air and Easy Jet, I have gained a much greater appreciation for train travel. Although we were only going to be gone for three nights and only packed one bag, I didn’t even have to think about luggage restrictions. There was no pre-board check-in, no waiting around in the airport, no demands to shut off my Kindle at take-off and landing. And it was faster! The Thalys train from Paris to Brussels takes about 90 minutes city-center to city-center. To add to the convenience, Scotty noticed we could upgrade for a very reasonable fee to 1st. This proved to be entirely worthwhile as our car was quiet, spacious, had free wifi, and we were served food and drinks. If, in the future, I have the choice between training or flying in Europe, you will find me happily settled into a roomy train seat complete with a footrest.
Anyway, we were off to Belgium for a few days and I was excited to have an introductory visit to a new country. Brussels is in the midst of a Christmas extravaganza and we thought it would be a good time to visit. When we arrived we made our way to the town center to check out the Christmas markets and take in the Electrobel Nights show that takes place each evening throughout the month of December. It was a little funky and a constant freezing drizzle meant that some parts of the show could not take place. There was one dancer who was dressed like a butterfly and she must have been hypothermic by the time her dance was finished. Anyway, I am sure we would have enjoyed it more if it had been the complete show and it hadn’t been raining. Here’s some pics of the lasers.
Really, the best thing about the show is the setting – this gorgeous square with Baroque and Renaissance architecture. It has quite the history and some of the buildings are very interesting. The center of town was completely dudded out in Christmas decorations and lights. And it was packed. There were people from all over the place here, munching on Belgium waffles (yum!), doing their Christmas shopping, sampling Belgium chocolates (yum!), and just wandering around sipping vin chaud (yum!). Yes, this is a place where gaining a few pounds would be an easy proposition. We sampled Belgium frites but settled for some lovely Thai food for dinner. There is just something about the two of us – whenever we’re traveling somewhere new and it’s cold, we always end up eating Asian food. A big bowl lemongrass scented broth just calls my name. Ok, back to Brussels.
Brussels seems to have a lot to offer as well as a lot of the usual junky touristic stuff. There are also some pretty unique offerings. Such as, the artificial ski slope.
Yep, a ski slope. For a mere €5.00 for 20 minutes, you could ski on an artificial slope. It didn’t look like it was very challenging, but we only had to look on for about two minutes before we saw someone crash. We didn’t ski as we found that simply watching the skiers was amusing enough.
After spending a few hours walking around in the drizzle, we were chilled to the bone and headed back to our hotel. The next day we headed to Bruges. I’ll write more on that tomorrow – it really was interesting and we saw the most puzzling Christmas parade I have ever seen. Ever.