Brussels was better than we thought it would be!! We had been a trifle alarmed at the number of people we had met who raised their eyebrows at the idea that we were planning to spend three nights in Brussels – even Charlotte, our hostess in Ypres and a rabid Belgian patriot had looked a little blankly when we asked for things to do there!!
Suffice it to say that we enjoyed our two nights having planned to spend the other in Dover before heading on to London.
Brussels is a very pleasant place with scenes reminiscient of
many European cities without anything truly remarkable. The old city is delightful and the square is certainly one of the best we have seen – not exactly enhanced by a handball game on the Sunday between teams kitted out like our 20/20 cricketers. We wandered a lot, saw the Comic Muesum (and Herge of course), enjoyed the Musical Instruments Museum (where we had one of the best meals we have had all trip!) with its great view over the city and Sunday afternoon in a pub watching Federer and Nadal in real time
while drinking beer. Actually was good to have a bit of a spell after the pace of the last week.
Monday 7th – Tuesday 8th
To London, to London to see the Queen!
Having decided to invade England by sea we left Brussels for Calais via Lille. Apart from the British Customs at Brussels station things went well and we embarked on Sea France arouns 12.30, to complete one of Elaine's dreams to see the white cliffs from the sea! Unfortunately the crossing was as “rough as guts” (to quote an old salt Mick was yarning to while Elaine was throwing hers up in the loo!) Mick enjoyed the pounding waves (imagining he was Eisenhower on D-Day or some such!) but Elaine and many othes didn't. To add to the pain the trip was ninety minutes longer than usual as we had to “hove to” (according to Mick) for quite a while!
Elaine brightened up when we were in the harbour and saw the white (a bit grey today) cliffs from there. We repaired to The Park Inn where we had lodgings for the night. After a bit of a spell we wandered round the town and along the seafront (in a roaring gale) before retiring to a restaurant to have some dinner. (England seems the same summer and winter – at least it ensures that you get to wear all the clothes you brought with you just in case!!)
Finally to London around 2 pm (we would still cross the channel again (even Elaine) it is good to see where you are going!) to our upmarket digs at Canada Water (think Docklands, Jubilee Line – sort of Green Square in Sydney – lots of medium rise apartments being purchased by young professionals hoping to make a killing in the property market) most suitable for us – it even has a bath!! The weather was great so out we went to “sniff around”.
It is great to see large crowds just hanging around in places like Leicester Square with the leafy trees – so much different to winter time!