Belgium, 27th April - 1st May 2006
We had intended going climbing in some gorges for a day or two, then spending the rest of the time in Brussels, but at the last minute the weather forecast wasn't very good and we decided to leave the climbing gear at home and drink beer and eat chocolate instead.
We arrived on Thursday afternoon in time to drop off our rucksacks at the hotel and have a good wander around Brussels (stopping at the odd chocolate shop or bar). This is the Grand Place...
...and of course we had to visit the Manneken Pis, which is surprisingly small. He wasn't wearing any of his several hundred costumes this time
A park by the Palais Royale
Notre Dame de la Chapelle
On Friday morning (after getting some chocolates) we visited the Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts
A shop window display
In the afternoon we visited Musée des Instruments de Musique (MIM), which is great. On entry you get a set of headphones, and as you approach certain instruments you are played pieces of music from them. This makes for quite an unusual tour of the displays
Lunch (and beers) in the MIM café, on the roof of the museum
Back out wandering again
A statue near the pub "A La Morte Subite"
Various views inside Notre Dame de la Chapelle
A wee dog
Walking past the outside of the MIM again. Apparently it used to be a department store
Saturday morning, outside the European Parliament
Imagine having to wash all those windows...
We then went on to the Musée des Sciences Naturelles
A display of fluorescent rocks, under normal light and under UV light
These were some of the earliest complete dinosaur skeletons found
A vampire deer?
At lunch time we headed back into town and found Le Beau Soleil - a café-cum-violin workshop near Place du Grande Sablon. The food was excellent, and the venue interesting
We got the train to Ghent that afternoon, and had time to go to SMAK, the modern art museum
"Biodegradable landmines - 1 year warning." There were charts on the wall showing various parts of the park, with mined areas marked. Looking out the window into the park revealed one of the "1 year warning" signs, which must have been quite confusing to those who walked or cycled past
I had to leave a shoe as a deposit for this 1.2 litre glass. Shoes were lowered back down from the basket at the ceiling once patrons returned their glasses
A canal in Ghent
Bikes by the station
We stayed in Ghent that night and the next. Our hotel seemed to have some unusual procedures
We took the train into Bruges for the day on Sunday - we had intended staying there but it was all booked out for a festival on Monday.
After getting more chocolate we visited Groeningemuseum in Bruges, which was quite interesting
We spent the rest of the day wandering around and stopping for beer and snacks in cafés
Looking across the canal near Bruges centre
One of several preserved windmills around the outskirts of central Bruges
We weren't the only ones snacking
These were hiding under a bridge
In the evening we ate at Poules Moules, a very good restaurant towards the station side of town. Jen ordered the all-you-can-eat mussels cooked in beer
The outside of Poules Moules
...and a chocolate dragon!
We had a couple more beers, then took the train back to Ghent. In the morning it was back to Brussels then Charleroi for the flight home