Date: 24/25 January 2015
Modes of Travel: Southwest Trains, London Underground, Eurostar, Brussels Metro
Hotel: ibis Brussels Centre St Catherine
Day 1 –
So we booked this trip for Eurostar’s 20th Birthday. Bruce can’t pass up a good deal so when he got the email of special fares (I got it too but just deleted it) he sent it to me with instructions to book a trip to Brussels and a hotel for this weekend.
We booked the Eurostar for an 0858 departure which arrived into Brussels for 1208 which gave us most of the day to enjoy the city.
It takes about 45 minutes to get to St Pancras from Twickenham and I am a bit of a crazy traveller in that I need to be there early and I stress if we cut it too close. So that meant we needed to leave our house by 0655 to make sure we made the “faster” train to Vauxhall where we could switch the tube and onward to St Pancras.
We arrived at Eurostar check in just after 8 and it was a little chaotic compared to our trip a few weeks ago. There 3 departures in the next 90 minutes which included one of the Ski Trains, which seems to have there own alcohol rules.
The check-in gates are always a little temperamental with the print at home tickets so getting through them can be interesting as they can take a few try’s. Once through you have the normal formalities of security, French immigration and you wind up in a smallish waiting area. The reason I say smallish is that you can have over 2000 people in this area with 3 full departures and there is only seating for maybe 500. Additional facilities are a café, a poorly laid out and compact WH Smith, and a Nero!
Our journey on Eurostar was pretty normal. Once of the nice things about Eurostar is you can bring your own food and drink on board including alcohol (within reason, they do have limits for alcohol) and once we left the station we enjoyed a nice bottle of Codorníu (a bottle of bubbles has become a bit of a tradition) once that was finished, we then moved on to a Duvel from the bar the bar car. We arrived in Brussels right on time. We decided we would take the metro to our hotel and other than the ticket machine only took coins and not the notes we just took out it was a short and easy trip to Bourse station.
We normally stay at Ibis as we travel a lot and need to be economical, but we will at least know what we are getting. Also, it helps me keep my status with Accor.
Once we arrived, checked in and got settled, we decided to use the free drink I get as being a Accor Hotels silver member (they gave us two free drinks which is unusual). So after two Leffe Blonde’s it was off to explore the city.
First stop was lunch. I talked Bruce into Quick as we had not had it in awhile. Have to say I always forget I always forget how much I am really not a fan, but it fills the gap. Once we got lunch out of the way we went on a search for the Delirium Taproom. Bruce had found it online and really wanted to give it a try.
We walked around the city on our way there as it had been awhile since we were last in Brussels, after a short walk through the shopping areas and some of the alleyways, we found the Delirium Village which has 4 bars in it. We stopped off and had a few beverages that included a Delirium Red (awesome) and a pink killer (not so awesome) for me and a La Chouffe IPA and a Campus (served in a litre boot) for Bruce. We also tried some Delirium cheese, which was ok, but not the best beer cheese we have had.
We decided to wander around the city a bit and on the way to Mannequin Pis, I saw a place called Los Churros & Waffle so stopped off for a waffle, which was pretty good! The Mannequin was dressed up in a little costume that included a bow and arrow.
After more walking around we found a bar called Windsurf. After a beer we popped over to Homoerectus Clasicus, which Bruce remembers as this cool little bar that had a tunnel that went between it and a bar across the street. Turns out they had no secret tunnel, but had cheap beer so we had a few beers and decided to go for dinner.
I found a place called Amadeo which is a sister restaurant to Amadeus which we went to in Antwerp last year. Bruce said we should make a booking, and I was like no I am sure its fine, they only open in a few minutes. We found it after a short walk (turns out just by our hotel) The place was empty (like 10 people) and when I asked for a table for two, was told it was at least a two hour wait as they had a ton of bookings. I am sure they still could have seated us, but in the end we decided not to wait and of course Bruce reminded me he said we should have booked. So perhaps he was right.
We ended up at a place called Chi Chi’s. They serve overpriced Tex Mex. The plusses of the meal were the chicken nachos and the frozen strawberry margarita for 5 that we shared between the two of us. The minuses were the fajitas and chips and salsa and even though they were free the salsa was not too nice.
After dinner we were both quite full and tired so called it a night!
Day 2 –
I got us a Mcd’s for breakfast and was surprised they did not offer any of the breakfast sandwiches as a meal and only as separate items. Once we got ourselves ready for the day we checked out of the hotel and left our stuff in the lockers and ventured out to see more of the city. Whilst waking around we ventured past la Maison du Savon de Marseille, which is a soap shop that we first found in Marseille many years ago. They have by far my favourite soap and as we are not due back to Marseille until 2016, I stocked up at a price that was possibly the cheapest we have ever found it.
After we got the soap we headed back to the hotel picked up our bag and walked to the station which was about a 30 minute walk away.
We had Sbarro’s for lunch and made our way to the Eurostar terminal for check in. After all of he formalities we chilled for about 20 minutes for boarding and then got on the train. The journey back was ok, except we got delayed in the tunnel for a bit and we ended up getting back to London 30 minutes late.
Overall it was a great trip and we want to spend some more time in Brussels.
We hope you enjoyed reading it and If you want to know more just ask… 🙂
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