We went to Brussels just before Christmas.
It took us about two hours to get there on Eurostar. We preened and we gloated that it was so easy. And then of course we had to get back. Major disaster. Luckily we weren't one of the ones caught in the tunnel, but instead we made the trek across Belgium and France - sixteen hours and three buses, three trains, a taxi and a boat ride later we got home. Fine for us, not so much fine for the elderly or those with small kids.
BUT now we're all chilled out (as opposed to just being chilled after two hours spent standing in the snow at Calais), there's lots we really enjoyed about the trip...
The joy and respect of proper craftsmanship - and not seeing the same chain stores every where. This is the beautiful jeweller Olivia Hainault who let us into our studio and introduced us to Belgium style:
It wasn't just the snow that made us feel Christmassy. Little touches like these golden posts made us smile too:
And, oh, the stationery shops. Look - a whole shelf of inks:
There was plenty of humour too. This dog is a statue, a nod I think to the famous Manneken Pis. The man with the Christmas tree behind was a lucky accident:
And of course there was the Cartoon museum, which celebrates how Belgium is the home to the Smurfs, Asterix and best of all, Herge - creator of Tintin:
Look who's behind the counter in the museum shop:
Most breathtaking of all was the Art Nouveau architecture. I was too amazed by the Victor Horta house to take pictures, but it's everywhere - light and joy and beauty:
And I haven't even mentioned the chocolate!!!