A Travellerspoint blog

Belgium

Last Day in Europe

Spending time eating and family

sunny 75 °F

We had to be at the Belgium airport by 8am Sunday to return the car and pick up another for just 2 days. We were able to arrive right at 8am after sleeping in a rest stop just north of the airport.

Our next car did not have GPS and was quite a bit smaller so we were squished and on our own to get around.

We’d planned to go to Pascaline’s house for Sunday but then found out that they would not be home so we had until 4pm on our own. The Brussels square was a perfect place to spend the day.

We found our way to the square in Brussels after lots of detours. We parked and walked to the square, by then were really hungry. We happened upon what we call “restaurant row”, streets full of little restaurants. We looked and I started negotiating. IMG_20140727_144808_179.jpg

Finally; a lunch of escargot, fillets of fish, chocolate mousse and wine. We sat and ate while we watched others doing what we had just done.
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From lunch we went window shopping but couldn’t resist the meringues filled with and covered with cream then rolled in shredded chocolate, the cream filled truffles, and other goodies. Sampling as we went, we shared the treats in order to be able to eat more. After lots of tasting we went and had a cappuccino in the square, enjoying the square for one last time.

Monday we repacked, bought chocolate to bring home, enjoyed Pascaline’s patio again and most of all our Belgium family.IMG_20140728_174123_895.jpg

Alas it was over too soon. We drove to the airport, turned in the car and caught our flights home.

Of course this was the trip that kept on giving; Dale and Elias’ flight from Chicago to Houston was delayed and they couldn’t make it home. Because there was no crew to fly the plane to Houston, United gave us a night and meals on them. I surprised Dale and Elias at their gate and we had one more night on vacation.

Posted by Miss Chris 18:51 Archived in Belgium Tagged food travel driving friends europe eating brussels belguim Comments (0)

Waterloo, The Monument

This was a day to reorganize and get ready for the next leg of this trip. Kids slept late, Dale and I sat and drank coffee. Ghislan had already been to the bakery and bought pastries for the kids, rolls for everyone and gluten free whole grain bread for me. My bread was still warm from the oven, OMG so fresh and so good. Why can’t we find this at home? The bakery is located in a little village and Bakersfield is big. Unfortunately, for everyone but me, Elias ate nearly all of the pastries, there was nothing left for the other kids. So, off we went to the bakery shop with all of the kids so they could choose what they wanted.

We took the kids to Waterloo, the site where Napoleon lost his battle, to see the site of the Lion and the museum with depictions of the battle. It was amazing to see how the place has changed but is still the same.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waterloo,_Belgium

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Because Pascaline and Ghislain have only recently bought their bbq we showed them how to BBQ a whole chicken along with potatoes and corn on the cob. The night before we did a marinade for chicken of Tequila, lime juice. Olive oil and garlic with chicken, some corn on the cob and zucchini. All served with great red wine; Bordeaux from France.

Posted by Miss Chris 04:26 Archived in Belgium Tagged food travel europe waterloo pastries grandkids napolean Comments (0)

A Visit to Bruges

Bruges and the castle of the Van Coloen's

semi-overcast 72 °F

It is good to be back in Belgium, the countryside is so green, air is good, food is good.

We headed out, not so early, to Bruges. This is a city in the Northern part of Belgium, about 1 hour away. We all piled into the van and had a roomy ride.
1st stop was a castle belonging to the family of Ghislain, an uncle’s family of the Van Coloen. http://www.kasteelvanloppem.be/infoen.html Ghislan said that they would visit on occasion when he was young. Now they go once every 4 years I believe. The castle is a large building that contains a chapel on one end and the residence on the other end.

On the grounds, near the entry, is a labyrinth with paths separated by hedges. The point of the labyrinth is to get to the center where there is a tree with benches to rest, then to find the way back.

The path of the labyrinth is wide enough for a wheelchair so we were able to push Sunny thru, while she gave directions. Elias, Bel and Charlotte ran thru, back and forth between the dead ends. Dale and I got stuck and couldn’t find the way but we got to a place where they could see the top of our heads. By calling out (a little like Marco Polo) we found each other. Kids running back and forth, us pushing a wheelchair; we were quite a sight!

From the castle we went on to the center of Bruges. There we found lunch of North Sea Shrimp, a specialty of the area. These shrimp are very small but so yummy.
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We had hoped to have the kids walk up to the bell tower but it was closed so we had to bury our sorrow in fine Belgium chocolate. Alas!
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Posted by Miss Chris 10:46 Archived in Belgium Tagged flying travel driving friends europe belgium bruges Comments (0)

Brussels, The Next Leg

semi-overcast 70 °F

We had a 3 a.m. wakeup call and were out the door by 4m. Off to the airport for Brussels.

We arrived in Brussels on time and a travel hint here: I did a little research and found that regional airlines were much cheaper but with lots of bad reviews. I checked with our friends who said that if we followed their rules we’d be fine.

I found info on all of the regional airlines and then checked each out, deciding that we would fly on Ryanair. If you want to travel between countries I’d highly recommend checking out the regional. Read the details and all rules. I found that our carry one were just a little too big by using a sewing tape with both cm and in.

By reading all the rules we flew, Sunny and I, for about $120.00 total. Tickets were $20.00 each, $25.00 for each bag, $10 to upgrade each seat. One must check in up to 30 days in advance so I did that before leaving. If one does not check in and print their birding pass before there is a $75.00 to do that at the counter.

The flight was great, we had no issues. Everyone was nice but there are no perks. For the price we will always fly the regional airlines over the big airlines.

In Brussels we got out of the airport we found our friends , Charlotte and her dad Ghislain We found a coffee place and sat down to wait for Dale and the kids. We took the time to catch up on news.

We had a rendezvous with Dale, Elias and Belo in the airport. What a great place to meet up. We picked up our rental car, a 9 passenger vw van, and we were off.IMG_201406..409_450__1_.jpg

I drove the car, the first stick shift in a long time. I couldn’t get the van into reverse so had to ask Avis to tell me the hint, pull up on the shift. I was a little nervous but drove thru Brussels with the completely incompetent instructions from our friend. After driving in a couple of circles we found the house where Pascaline was waiting for us.

A little about Pascaline: she was our very first exchange student, on a summer program, in 1979. We have been friends with her entire family since then. Pascaline's mother, Therese use to visit us every year and go on vacation with us. Now Pascaline's daughter comes to visit us. Our granddaughter has come to Belgium as have all of our boys. It is the circle of visiting.

Dinner and fabulous French wines then much needed sleep.
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Posted by Miss Chris 01:46 Archived in Belgium Tagged flying travel belgium brussels grandkids ryanair Comments (0)

Belgium, Old Friends and Fun

Meeting Up with Old Friends in Brussels

sunny

IMG_4248.jpgIMG_4239.jpgWe arrived in Brussels feeling like it was 3 a.m. on Jupiter. Our friend Pascaline was to pick us up at the airport but she had given me her phone number to call when we arrived.

We got off the plane and thru customs then at the arrival area did not see Pascaline. I got my phone out, which I’d programed on Sunday but there was no internet to be had and her number was in an email. We dropped the bags and while I worked to get my Sims number off the card, then find the number to call for Verizon Dale went out to look for Pascaline.

We’d spent about 10 minutes looking and trying to get the phone up and running when I happened to look up and saw someone who looked like Pascaline but it has been maybe 8 years since we saw her last. She was watching for the passengers coming out from customs. I told Dale to stay with the bags and I ran over to the arrival area. Then the woman put on sun glasses and did not look like Pascaline at all. I started to back away when she took the glasses back. I asked “Pascaline” and she said “yes”. We were reunited at last.

Several hours later I had time to work with the phone and found I could place calls; just as I thought it was a setting that had not been checked in the phone.

Our goal in Brussels was to 1. Visit with our friends and her family and 2. Drink a beer. Ghislan, Pascaline’s husband was more than happy to oblige with the beer. We did go to the square at the Grand Palace and in a little bar that was established about 150 years ago we had beers all around. The beer tasted much better there than at our home in Bakersfield, maybe the environment had a little to do with it.

As for the family, Pascaline’s mother Therese use to visit nearly every year, traveling with us for our summer vacations. She learned to know most of our family and we traveled over many states. We also visited her at her home, the last visit 6 years ago at which time she told us that she would likely not return to the U.S. again.

Therese arrived with her son for an afternoon visit and we had several hours of reminiscing the old times. We were sad for our time in Belgium to be over but excited to move on to Germany and our old friends there.

Posted by Miss Chris 14:39 Archived in Belgium Tagged food beer travel europe belgium brussels visiting Comments (0)

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