I typically write about my travel experiences as they happen but I’m really lacking on this trip. I’m going to break it up into two parts: London and Brussels.
Welcome to Brussels
Our train arrived an hour late but it was so nice to be in Brussels finally! And to see Elizabeth after getting off the train was a welcome relief. She loaded us up in her car and we headed for the Embassy. She is special; she has diplomat plates so she can park in designate areas for free. A nice perk! We walked into town and headed to one of her favorite pubs/bars. We shared a cheese plate and some drinks (non-alcoholic for us!). We meandered into the Grand Palace, one of my favorite squares in Europe. But there is scandal now…a Starbucks has ruined the square! LOL! We took some pictures before heading to the Manneken Pis…ie the peeing boy. Unfortunately he wasn’t dressed up. Apparently if they do dress him they take the clothes off by 4pm. We were a bit late for that. Our first dinner in Brussels was…Greek! Haha! Jim, Elizabeth’s husband met us for dinner. It was good. I’ve never had Greek before. We rode the subway back to the car and headed to Elizabeth’s house for the night.
Our first road trio was to Ghent. But first we went to the market for the best waffles ever! OMG Delicious! After the market we drove past Waterloo Battlefield (you know Napoleon) and stopped at the Neuhaus Chocolate Factory. We got our 3 kilos (of chocolate). We also got to sample every variety of chocolate they make. AMAZING! Next was Ghent.
Ghent is a cool old town that was featured in the movie Monuments Men. Inside the cathedral is the altar piece that was saved from the Nazis. It was quite the cathedral. Very nice place indeed. Ghent reminds me of Amsterdam and looks very Dutch. We toured the castle where they store all the torture devices. We got to see an actual guillotine with the original blade. Yikes! The views from this castle were great. We met Jim for dinner at this great German restaurant. I like my wieners.
Monschau, Germany, Aachen, Germany and Maastricht, Netherlands
Day 2 was a trip to a fairytale town of Monschau, Germany. It is a very small town tucked in the mountain valley. I loved it. Next was Aachen, Germany which had old roman ruins, an amazing cathedral with Charlemagne bones (Holy Roman Emperor from 800-814) and Starbucks! We ate at this great German sausage haus restaurant. Yum! Our last stop was Maastricht, Netherlands, a medieval city. We walked around the city and saw the old city wall. It was a very quick trip but our time with Elizabeth was commando tourism…we did that well! To celebrate our successfully day we had dinner at Pizza Hut! Lol!
WWI Day Flanders Field Cemetery, Passchendaele Museum, Tyne Cot Cemetery and Atomium
The last day was rather somber. We explored WWI sites. We saw battlefields, trenches, dugouts, and cemeteries. We started out at Flanders Field where over 300 Americans are buried, a very nice cemetery. We toured the Passchendaele Museum were we experienced the trenches and dugouts of the war. After a quick lunch at the Cheese Factory we headed to Tyne Cot Cemetery. There are over 12,000 British Commonwealth soldiers buried there. Their cemetery was beautiful with planted flowers in front of all the gravestones. There were a lot of British school kids there…they weren’t quite as respectful! Before heading back to Elizabeth’s house we stopped at the Atomium. It was constructed for the 1958 Brussels World's Fair. We didn’t go inside but we took our picture next to it. Our last dinner in Brussels as at IKEA. I know what you are thinking but ha! It is European!
Our last morning in Brussels we went to market for another fabulous waffle before making our way the airport. We had a great time with Elizabeth in Brussels. She is a wonderful host! Our flights were pretty uneventful. We had to go through border control in Iceland and got right back on a plane. We got back to Minneapolis around 6pm. Bonnie picked us up and our first stop was Starbucks for Juliette (she was going through withdrawals!) and Culver’s so Katelynn can try a great Midwest burger joint. It was a very successful trip!