Sunday, 30 July, 2017 – weather: improving
Today we will be leaving Lille and take trains to Brussels, Belgium. The weather starts with rain, somewhat heavy but it goes away before we go out for brekkie. We go to the area of Lille we found yesterday. The first look was in another in the Paul’s chain but decide on another chain that we have been to:
The menu is the same as the previous one and changes are not permitted. However, the manager works out a strategy for Julie so we stay there.
Not bad, Julie manages to eat all of the baguette. We go back to the apartment, finish packing and leave for the train station at around Noon.
We wait a while at the station and then the platform is announced. We have a First Class ticket but there does not appear to be any first class carriages. Never mind, up at the front of the train:
There are several stops along the way. Most of the stations, especially the platforms, are in various stages of disrepair. Our first destination is Tournai which is across the border in Belgium. We are to change trains there and that means a platform change. There is nothing resembling an elevator or escalator there so Julie has to carry our suitcases down and then up stairs. A nice young man helps carry the bags up the stairs. Then when we are to board the train it is quite steep, another young man carries the bags up for Julie.
This time we have found the first class carriage and to say that there was a big difference, not that I could notice. The last guy to help stays in our carriage and is a German named Chris. He is involved in electric cars mainly the charging part which has its own unique problems. I suppose it is not a surprise but Julie and Chris have a long discussion about electric and driverless vehicles on the trip to Brussels.
When we reach Brussels Midi station, Chris has to hurry to another platform but still carries both of our suitcases down the steep stairs of get off the train. Fortunately there are escalators within the station so no more stairs.
We have agreed to take a taxi to our apartment so go out and have difficulty finding them. We were told that Brussels is very poor for signage in general and that proved the case here. Eventually Julie finds them and we take the trip across town to our apartment. It was quite a ways, e10 taxi fare and walking would never have been on the cards.
We arrive at our narrow street Champ de Mars – actually it is not that narrow but cars are fully parked on both sides of the street which leaves it as narrow. I can see our Airbnb Host, Jean-Eric, on the balcony on the first floor and wave to him. He comes down and helps with the suitcases, carrying Julie’s load of bricks up the stairs. There is a quaint old elevator which I use to bring my suitcase up. It took some instructions on how to use it before I finally got there.
The apartment is huge, bigger in area than our house. It is old but tastefully renovated. After some of the small places we stayed in it seems like a mansion. Jean-Eric is a good buy and explains lots about the apartment and the surrounding areas including places not to go to because they are too touristy. A minor problem getting the internet going but that was quickly solved. So we settle in and spread out. I did not get around to taking any photos of the apartment but this link will show you all of the place as well as our rough area in Brussels.
It is after 4:00 but there is still time for Julie to go out and get some supplies and also scout out for restaurants. Jean-Eric had warned us that a lot of the restaurants would be closed given that it is a Sunday.
Julie is not gone too long and has done some scouting and brought back a few supplies. She indicates that she has found one of the restaurants recommended by Jean-Eric which we decide to go to.
We talked with the Owner, who was a very nice guy, and he said that the place had been opened for a bout a year. I asked how long were the Kips (chooks) cooked for and he said around 2 1/2 hours offline and then put on the rotisserie to warm up and crisp the skin. When Julie said I was doing a food blog he said “so you have come half way around the world to have chicken in apple sauce”. But he said that Kip was a Belgium national dish along with Moules and Frites.
When we first arrived there was only one other table. It did not get much fuller until Julie went off to the store to get more supplies. While she was away, people kept pouring in almost like a bus had delivered them there. When Julie returned 15 minutes later virtually every table was in use.
Julie had purchased ingredients to make her own Irish Coffee at home. We walk around the streets a bit and then she makes her Irish Coffee while I have some Australian wine that she had bought.