When I had the suggestion from my ‘Bestie’ to go away for a City Break, I was really excited. It had been a while since we spent quality time together, and I can’t say that we are completely ‘Abs Fabs’ any more but had certainly shared some fabulous times in the past when we partied hard and shopped till we dropped, helped mend each other’s broken hearts and even broken heels as we stumbled home from a Night Club or heavy night out in the nineties.
But now, twenty or so years down the line, three marriages between us and two kids later, we are again in the party mood and up for sharing a bottle of Bolly and a belly full of laughter.
I did a quick scan of the latest deals online, and discovered that Eurostar were doing a great weekend break to Belgium. I have to say that Eurostar for me has always been a really civilised way of travelling, and they had got it spot on with their choice of Hotel, near to the Station but central to the City itself and all its shops and amenities.
I settled on a Standard Premium rate for the Train and a reasonable rate for the Hotel and Brussels as the destination. Neither of us had been to Belgium, and so it was fresh, new and full of promise with the commodities we both loved, shopping, eating and interesting places to visit.
My friend Jackie loves music, and so I discovered that the Musical Instrument Museum
http://www.mim.be/en MIM is a Museum with a collection of more than 8000 musical instruments, so decided that this would be our first port of call.
Eurostar also offered a special package of around 20 euros each of extra train fares to travel to other destinations near to Brussels, and so we chose Ghent, which is a lovely town full of beautiful architecture and great restaurants, and spent the day there. We even found a mini comicom at the ICC and a lovely Brasserie called The Rambler, where we did share a glass or two of champers to round off the day.
In Brussels itself we discovered a square full of fish restaurants, and Le Quai on Quai aux Briques was our favourite, reasonably priced and both food and service came up to full expectation
The shopping in Brussels was another experience, and on the main shopping Street Rue Neuve, you have a combination of all the regular High Street shops you would find in the UK like Zara and New Look, plus a combination of German and French outlets and shops from the past that I thought no longer existed like Etam and Naf Naf. Completely fascinating!
The host of side streets are a ‘must do’, and we both picked up some bargains in boots and shoes, as well as some amazing ‘off the beaten track’ cafes, where you can stop to have a coffee or break for a light midday lunch.
We made it three full days to really make the most of the time and money that had been expended, and both felt we had enjoyed both the Country and the experience. I would say it feels like a more relaxed Paris, and most people speak French or English.
The journey to and from London is certainly shorter than other destinations, and overall I would highly recommend Belgium as a safe bet if you are planning an away day or weekend with a friend or loved one – or as a lone traveller.