Belgium Summary


The train that we were supposed to take from Amsterdam to Brussels had mechanical problems, so we boarded a replacement train and spent the next three hours in a heat-induced stupor as the air conditioning was not working and the windows would not open.  We also neglected to bring along bottled water and there was none available on the train.  By the time we arrived at the central station in Brussels, we were exhausted.  We decided to take a taxi to our hotel, the Citadines Apart' hotel, which Cheryl found on the Internet.  It was a one bedroom apartment, spacious and looked out over a lovely square near St. Catherine's Church.  We rested for a while, then walked to a nearby convenience store and bought some groceries to make dinner and for breakfast the next day.  We did not have to hunt down a cash machine since Belgium, The Netherlands and Germany all use the Euro currency.  We learned that Brussels is famous for several things: headquarters of the European Union (the EU), chocolate, and great food.  For us however, there were three reasons we were there: 1) to visit an official Tintin store (Todd is a big fan - if you don't know about the Adventures of Tintin is, click here), 2) to shop for Kipling products (little did we know the company is based in Belgium), and 3) most importantly, to find an English language bookstore and buy the new Harry Potter book.  We were successful on all counts, and returned at the end of the day having seen much of the central part of the city, with a few shopping bags in tow.  We reserved copies of the new Harry Potter book to be picked up that night at 1am.   After returning to the hotel we rested and got ready for our late night out.  We arrived at the bookstore at 12:30am and stood in line with several hundred other excited HP fans for about an hour.  We got our two copies and returned to the hotel and to bed.  The next day we left for Paris on the Thalys high speed train.  Lauren was not very talkative during the journey and was not watching the beautiful Belgian and French countryside - she was off at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.