A Travellerspoint blog

Say Good bye to Brussels And Hello Bayeux

Two Trains later we are in Bayeux

overcast 18 °C

Thoughts on Brussels.
No stop signs at most corners; drivers are just expected to stop for pedestrians.
Controlled crossings existed in the busier town area.
More smokers, but July just introduced no smoking in pubs and restaurants.
Where are the seniors?
Buses take your ticket, close the doors and go. You'd better be holding on.
They keep telling me Europeans are all about fashion. Not from what I saw in Belgium...I could have been in Vancouver.
They don't pick up their dog's business on sidewalks.
Belgians can drink anywhere.
They are more relaxed.
Even at fast-food places you pay after you eat, but Tracy thinks you still pay first at Mc Donald’s.
You never take your coffee out, you sit and drink it.
Toilet stalls all have doors that go from ceiling to floor, so they have lights in each stall.
Whatever country Asians are from, they are all called Chinese.
Sundays and Mondays are not the best days to find places open in Brussels.

Tracy is packed and we headed down to catch the tram to the train station. Brussels station is quite large but we figure out where to go and its not long before we are in our reserved seats. The train is fairly full and there are many young families. The train leaves on time to the minute and arrives in Paris on time. The challenge then is to get from Paris Nord to Paris St. Lazare. We make it with only one wrong turn. The signage is lacking unless of course you know exactly what you are doing. The train station is a little more challenging, no place for people to sit, no obvious information booth, and three different screens with the different trains. You have to figure out which screen will display your train, but we get on and make our way to the second-class cars. We have no reserved seats, but we figure out there are yellow tags above the reserved seats and find three together, with no yellow tags and we don't get asked to move. We also never get asked to show our tickets on the train. We validated them on the platform. This train is a little less smooth, left on the nose and two hours and ten minutes later we are in Bayeux. Out comes the handy GPS and we make our way to the hotel just as the rain starts.
The hotel is full, located right in the middle of the old part of the town. Our room has three single beds; rather funny as it is our 31 anniversary.
Not having had a normal meal all day we head out for dinner, but the restaurants don't open up until 7 pm. So ... guess the most common type of restaurant...Pizzerias. Yup, we wanted Crepes, but ended up at a pizza place. Roger had the meal of the day which started with a meat platter, followed by turkey and pork and fries covered in a sauce. Tracy ordered a vegetarian Pizza, I had a galette with warm goat cheese and walnuts and we all got salad with a great dressing that tasted of horseradish. We ordered a cider of Bayeux, but they recommended another local cider that was better and we did enjoy it. I tried to order tap water, but no luck. Tracy and I finished off with a mint ice cream with bits of chocolate floating in crème de menthe. Roger went to stick his spoon when the server came by and told him no and moved it away from him. She said he was to eat his fruit salad and leave our dessert alone!
We took a wander around the town getting lost, but finding someplace that was open that sold us a bottle of wine. Out came the GPS and we were home in ten minutes.

Posted by Mari Anne 13:28 Archived in France Tagged trains beach hotel e bayeux juno Comments (0)

A day full of fun planned by our daughter

Tracy is going to show us her home for the last year.

sunny 21 °C

A day full of fun. What has Tracy planned for us? A light breakfast and the plan is to find the flea market, but despite major sleuthing talents we were unable to find it. Next best thing is a grocery store! A short walk later we are settled in the park with wine, cheese, crackers, grapes and pain chocolate (chocolate croissants). The action in the park appeared to be across the way where we noticed what appeared to be a rather intense young man and a less so woman. It became apparent the man was breaking up and trying to get his ring back. Sadly she was not in agreement. Scene two has him walking away with her in tears. He returns - perhaps he has a heart or perhaps he still wants the ring. We left before scene three.
With our handy GPS we find the military museum, however despite the website's claim, it was not open. The building was amazing and majestic. The neighbouring Car museum was open and we explored the area, we declined paying to go through.
Time to head over to the Lace and Costume museum. This one was open and was worth the visit. The exhibit was entitled "homemade" and displayed many homemade crafts dating pre sewing machine to the 1980s including various samplers made by students in the 1800 and 1900s. I learned that young women that joined the work force do not get the proper training in home skills so that when they marry their children will lack moral training, the house will not be run well and the men will have to find solace in the inns and will listen to other men. No wonder my family is such a mess. LOL.
Beer time, a Raspberry Kreik for me, a Caisson beer for Tracy and I forget what Roger had! Tried to stay awake on the bus ride home, but had a hard time! Roger wanted pomme frites, called only frites over here, but the Place Flagey but it was closed, it seems people line up for them and are willing to wait, they must be good. We picked up cakes from the Moroccan area; they were a deal compared to the other areas! The server knew of Canada because of the TV show 'Just For Laughs' out of Montreal. Then a bottle of wine from the grocery and home for a cup of tea before dinner.
We had a great evening with Tracy's landlord, Sabine. She understood some English, I had some French, Roger had more and Tracy had lots so the conversation was entertaining and mostly understood. She prepared the dinner, which to Roger's delight included Pomme Frites, cucumber with sour cream, honeydew, which they just call melon, lettuce, tomato, radishes and little goat cheese rounds that were coated with something and warmed up on the stove. We started with an aperitif wine, a little red with dinner and finished with water and Moroccan tea and the cakes we bought.
We bused back to town for Karaoke, but it was not on tonight so.... what else ... we had beer. Well Roger and Tracy did, I opted for Chocolate Chaud. The new smoking regulations cause people to go outside to smoke. The deal is they go outside, stand at the windows and blow the smoke back in, very helpful.

The bus ride home was entertaining. A somewhat drunken man was happily chatting, said good-bye to his friend and went to get off at his stop. He had not pressed the button, so of course the driver didn’t' stop. The man was irate that the driver would not stop. He yelled and carried on and horror of horrors tore up his ticket! He was let off at the next stop where he had a few more words to say before he left the bus, spat on the doors and thought of more things to say. The driver apologized for his language, which of course had gone right over my head.
Tracy is packing, the train tickets are in place and the plans are all set for tomorrow. Time for some sleep.

Posted by Mari Anne 15:54 Archived in Belgium Tagged family student brussels pis Comments (0)

Brussels for Lunch

Almost a year since we've seen our youngest.

sunny 19 °C

A morning flight to Brussels and we get to see Tracy. Even with a time change of 8 hours I slept until 7:30. We were back over the parking lot to the airport and checked in very quickly. Security said my zip lock bag was too big. Funny...Vancouver and Heathrow both were okay with it. The security guy wanted 2 pounds to buy a bag, but all I had was a 20. He then went and got us this little official bag anyway and we were on our way. We tried to getting in BA lounge and they sent us to the BMI Lounge and they said no. Dang, rules change and it didn't help us, it was implied that if one our flights was business that we could use the lounge. So back to the common area and we had to buy food.
It was a small plane and a great flight over England and France and into Brussels. They had to bus us to the terminal and there was Tracy and her landlord Sabine. Tracy was bouncy and happy and it was wonderful to hug her after such a long time. What a beautiful city. So much to look at. We had a tour of Tracy's home and we were out on the street. A stop at a teashop where we had lentil soup, a beef skewer, hummus and a wonderful mint sweet tea. Yum!! We walked down to the Place Flagey and picked up beer. Tracy and I shared a Cherry Kriek and Roger had Vedett Blanc. That is the most beer I have ever had, as I don't like beer, but this was all right, it is very fruity and sweet not bitter. The cool thing is you can walk down the street and drink it! We walked through the Abbey grounds, the University and back to Tracy's for a cup of tea, to skype Carol and Richard and play Settler's of Catan. Tracy is cool Tracy won!
And we are on the road again. A wander down the road to buy bus tickets, bandages for Tracy's blisters and a visit to the European Parliament, then the 95 bus to the city/tourist area. Time to feed, Thai food won the toss, but we went for Moroccan food, a man sized meal. Nom Nom. The three of us ate for about the same amount Roger spent on his breakfast. No tax and no tip I could get used to this! Then a wander through the old area into Grand Place filled with amazing buildings built in the 1600s. I guess I am only starting to see huge orange stone and brick buildings, but I hope I don't get blasé about it. The narrow streets are filled with tourists settling into the numerous little restaurants that spill into the streets leaving only a pathway down the middle of the street. The guys are not too subtle about looking at young women (Tracy) and some are very vocal even though she is with us.
We eventually found our way to the Manikin Pis, still surrounded by people after 10 at night. He is naked tonight, but will be dressed tomorrow for the fourth of July. Then a real Belgium Waffle with no extras, unlike the tourists who were smothering their waffles with chocolate and fruit or whipped cream. We chatted with a guy from Romania while we waited our turn.
Back to Tracy's for tea, an episode of Castle and bed.

Posted by Mari Anne 14:38 Archived in Belgium Tagged belgium waffles pis manikkin Comments (0)

Overnight in Manchester

An Airport hotel

sunny 18 °C

The intent here is to hand off Grandma to family, have a bite of dinner, some sleep and catch a morning flight to Brussels. Due to a late flight from Vancouver we missed our connection in London. They booked us on the last flight of the day, which gave us three hours to hang around in the BA lounge in Heathrow where we had a light supper. They came to collect Grandma with the wheelchair and we were quickly on board. Further back in the plane than we had planned in Economy, but it is only an hour flight. We taxied for twenty-five minutes before take off; I thought we were going to drive there.
A quick flight and the wheelchair were waiting for us again and our entire luggage arrived safely. This was a small concern, as they had to find it and retag it after changing our flight. Amazingly Roger and I are traveling with two small backpacks. The suitcase with our formal clothes we are leaving with grandma and she will bring it to Rome for the cruise.
Roger's cousin Denise, her husband Jeff and Auntie Doris were waiting for us at the airport. Grandma was beyond excited! We figure it is about thirty years since they had seen each other. We walked across the way to our hotel where the other cousin, Susan and her husband Dave met us for drinks. It was supposed to be dinner, but we came in so late we just had a couple drinks, which helped us off to sleep. Then off to bed around 1am Manchester time.

Posted by Mari Anne 08:56 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged hotel airport on way our manchester overnight Comments (0)

The Begining

Day one starts at 11:30 pm as we head across the world.

sunny 18 °C

So three days to get to Brussels. The up side is we are going Business Class. Wow. I can't wait. We were to have left at 8:40 but due to a combination of mechanical troubles and strike we left late. The connection to Manchester would be missed so we were rescheduled. No problem. A light dinner and Peter picked us up for an easy drive to the airport. An earlier flight would have given us a view of the Canada Day fireworks.
We did not request assistance and Grandma was fairly knackered by the time we were through security. We did relax in the lounge and arranged assistance through to Manchester at that point. Travel with a senior in a wheelchair and you get to bypass lineups which is especially nice for the line up to get through immigration in Heathrow. The downside is I don't get to go for a walk so I have to make an effort to walk around the airport while we wait. Business class ruins you for economy travel and I'm not just talking about the free drinks. The flat bed made for five solid hours of sleep! And who should be on our flight with his wife and three children? Daniel Sedin. We actually exchanged a few words. They had two more flights to get to Sweden. The kids were great on the flight even the baby.

Posted by Mari Anne 08:33 Archived in Canada Tagged flight canada begining Comments (0)

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