Tag Archives: Brussels

Belgium, 2013: The People

My husband, daughter and I flew from Hong Kong to Brussels via Helsinki. It was a cheap flight and the worst flight we have ever had with our daughter. At one year old, she was at that in between stage where she didn’t just eat and sleep and wouldn’t just sit and watch TV, so all she wanted to do was walk up and down the aisles. She didn’t sleep the whole way, so neither did we. Lesson learned- sometimes it’s worth paying a bit more for a shorter flight with a little one.

After a 3 hour stopover in Helsinki, she finally lost it on the internal European flight to Brussels and just screamed. We were all tired and over it so I can understand her reaction and I now know what its like to be those parents that everyone tuts as at, but there was simply nothing we could do.

She finally fell asleep when we landed and slept in my arms in the brightly lit Brussels airport while we waited for our bags. Our friend Bill picked us up to take us back to the converted farmhouse that we had stayed in before and were to do so again. We hadn’t seen the family since our wedding in Thailand and it was the first time they had met our daughter.

Between them and their partners, Bill, Isabelle and Ben now had 8 children- 5 boys and 3 girls- almost all older than our daughter, so she had plenty of kids to dote over her and keep her entertained. Being a social child, she very much enjoyed being part of such a huge family. The girls were very gentle with our daughter which was lovely to see and the grandparents had a room set up especially for the grandkids with lots of toys and a cot.

The mornings were dark until 8:30am, which didn’t help with the jetlag when our daughter still got up at 4am. She gradually got later everyday, but never slept past her usual waking time of 6am, so had already been up for at least two hours by the time everyone else rose for breakfast.

Our friend Flo visited from France one evening with presents for our daughter. It was so nice to see her. Another night we went to Bill’s house for dinner. The house was lovely and interior decorated to perfection.

The next night we went to Isabelle’s for dinner where they lived above her husbands personal training business. On another night we went to visit Guislane and George- another family that my husband had stayed with when he had been living here on exchange. I ate the biggest piece of foie gras I have ever seen.

We kept her in her nightly dinnertime and bath routine that has always been useful for sleep time no matter where we were. Her adoptive grandfather sometimes read her books and she always had a bed or cot to be put to sleep on wherever we were visiting for dinner. Then when we were ready to leave, we just picked her up and drove home while she kept sleeping. It was awesome.

Related posts: Europe, 2006, Belgium, 1997, Destination ThailandPeople vs Place, Belgium: On Exchange

Belgium, 1997

Sarah and I arrived in Antwerp and to see the huge Cathedral of Our Lady which was an overwhelming sight. I don’t think I had ever seen a cathedral that big before.

We strolled through the famous Grote Markt to the Brabo fountain.

In Brussels, we stayed in a tall house with friends of our friends from Zwagg. They took us to the Hotel de Ville (town hall) and the Brewers buildings in the Grand Palace for a cheery beer at the King of Spain. The first of many different flavoured beers that we tried in Belgium.

The famous Manneken Pis was so small that we almost missed him as we walked through the town square and we rubbed the Everard ‘t Serclaes for luck.

We visited the bizarre Atonium in Bruparck- a monument to the discovery of the atom which was shaped like an atom. The grounds had a miniature Europe, which looked even smaller from the top of the monument.

Whenever I go to a new city, I always like to go to a high viewpoint so I can get an idea of the layout of the place. So when we travelled to Brugge- a miniature city surrounded by canals- we climbed the 366 steps up the Belfry to the carillon bells. Nothing but flat land and orange rooves as far as the eye could see.

We found the Church of Our Lady with it’s a famous marble statue of Madonna and Child.

Every town in Belgium seemed to have a town square with town hall and a tall church.

We had our fill of waffles and headed from the small country of Belgium to the big city of Paris.

Related posts: Holland, 1997, England, 1997, I first started travelling, By special request, Home is where you make it, I first started writing