Thursday, August 1, 2013

Travel: Brussels

Cole still wasn't feeling well when we arrived, but he felt better the following day. As we had only one full day in the city we took advantage of his good health and saw all we planned.

The Grand Place is said to be the most beautiful square in Europe, and it certainly is impressive.

The Mannekin-Pis is a disappointing, little statue, and his likeness can be found all over the city. I don't understand his popularity; Smurfs and Tintin are far better mascots.

Belgian chocolate is good, but expensive. Famous chocolatier Pierre Marcolini sold boxes of chocolates for 50 Euro or more. And Belgian frites and waffles are positively sinful! Our hotel allowed us to make our own waffles, without the whipped cream and chocolate, and we actually preferred the more tooth-friendly version.

If Cole were older or interested in comics, we would have visited the Belgian Centre of the Comic Strip.

Our next trip to Belgium will be to Bruges.

Travel: Amsterdam

You really need three or more days in Amsterdam, as there is a lot to see and do. The city is large, so easy access to a bicycle or a metro station near your hotel is also a must. And if you plan a trip to Zaanse Schans or elsewhere in the country, a hotel near Centraal Station is probably best.

We stayed in an apartment near the museum quarter, which was an expensive mistake. Our trip was too brief to venture that far away from the train station with luggage. Not only that, the apartment was ill-equipped: no cooking basics, air conditioning, fans, or functioning windows. Cooking in the apartment would have been more expensive than eating out, and it was already uncomfortably warm inside (25 degrees Celsius with no air movement).

To make matters worse Cole got sick on our trip to Zaanse Schans. So while we did get to see windmills, we didn't get to see much else. We managed a quick trip to the Bloomenmarkt and took in some views of the canals and their bridges, but missed out on Anne Frankhuis, Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum and other would-be highlights we planned for our trip.

I don't know that we'll make a return trip. Although it would be nice to visit Amsterdam's museums and Kinderdijk's windmills.