Thursday, July 14, 2011

Brussels...even in the rain we love ya!

One word describes today…RAIN!

Remember when I said we were in a food coma yesterday and that we’d work it off today…well we did and then some!  We met up with our guide from Brussels Bike Tours and three other adventurous souls for a four hour bike tour of the fabulous city!  

Some of you will find this part especially humorous…I had to get a kid’s bike because my legs are so short!  The beauty of the kid’s bike though was pedal breaks which came in very handy going downhill in the rain.

We literally went all over the city today and I must stay I was quite pleased with the way the drivers look out for bikers and yielded to us...definitely impressive for the capital of the European Union and headquarters of NATO.  

First stop on the bike tour was our little friend the Mannekin-Pis.  This morning he was still au naturel, however, stay tuned to see how he was dressed later in the day in celebration of France’s Bastille Day.

Titch, our guide, took us through parts of the city we would not have seen on our own which was great.  We went through the poor part of town, the rich part of town, the government sections, parks and of course tourist areas.  Because of the rain, not too many pictures today but the sights of the town are imbedded in my memory.

Titch did take a little pity on us and stopped under the cover of the EU Parliament buildings so I did manage to get a few pics before we braved the rain again.

Thankfully our next stop was for frites and beer!  I opted for the small order with the traditional Specialé Sauce (mayo, curry ketchup and chopped onions)…yum yum!

The latest in rainy weather fashion! Don't hate us because we're beautiful!

Our final stop on the tour was at Saint Michael’s Cathedral. 

We made our way back to the garage…downhill thankfully!  Only twice during the tour did I come close to crashing…and one of those times I almost took out an old lady and lamp post but fortunately we all returned in one piece!

Desperate for something warm to drink and a dry place to sit, we headed back toward the Grand Place but made a pit stop at a little chocolatier.  I tried dark chocolate with chili pepper and dark chocolate with Earl Grey and Julie tried the Earl Grey and a dark chocolate with almond pieces…we both concluded our choices were quite wonderful.  We enjoyed our chocolates in a little café with a fire and cappuccino. 

Refreshed and ready to brave the on again/off again rain, we headed back over to see the Mannekin-Pis decked out in his little French ensemble.  For all world holidays and other important dates, he dons on one of his more than 800 outfits and his hidden behind flags of Brussels until the special parade makes its way to him. At which time, the flag is removed revealing him and to retaliate he no longer pees in the fountain but on the crowds.

Once again, we could not resist the smell of the Belgian waffles and picked up one to fortify us on the walk to the central train station where we bought our tickets for tomorrow’s day trip to Bruges.  Today we decided to forego the “tourist” waffle (Belgian waffle with all the stuff on it) and opted for what the locals get…a plain waffle for only €1 and it was perfect as it is sweet enough without all the toppings.

We’re taking a little respite from the rain and will be heading out again to explore more of the city we both plan to revisit.  The people here are ever so nice and feeling of the city is just so welcoming.

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