Thursday, February 01, 2007

Brussel ... Bruxelles

I've had a stunning few days ... beginning with Mike and Sue on Saturday, continuing on through the week as I've wandered with Lisen and Yakup and then this morning, waking to a small package in the mail, and finding that Matthew had sent a music compilation that is truly delicious if what I've heard so far is anything to go by.

Yesterday was a day spent in Brussels, a day when my deep affection for a Latin American cafe called El Vergel was confirmed. It's up near the New Zealand Embassy, in Square de Meeus, the cafe itself is on Trone straat... I can't find a Brussels website, only their London one.

But Brussels ... the sun shone, stunning Gert and I and the cutting wind disappeared as soon as we descended into the city.

Hmmmm to start at the start ... we parked the car out at the Atomium and caught a tram into the city.

We emerged near the European Parliament buildings and walked ... through parks, past the national parliament, crossing over to the Palace where the King works (his home is elsewhere in the city) and made our way to my beloved El Vergel.

Full of good food and only just walking away from ordering more, we bussed down into the city to explore Grote Markt on our way to our favourite Lambic pub ... A la Becasse.

The light was slowly but surely becoming delicious by 5pm and we were walking back up the hill past the museum of musical instruments, the rather stunning building pictured here. It was about then that I began my search for a cafe named Le Pain Quotidien. A phone call to Alison and I realised that she wasn't the person who introduced me to the coffee there ... we wandered on.

Gert said something about walking to a basillica in the distance and mentioned a street of antique stores. I said 'YES!', remembering that Le Pain was located in just such a place ...

The gods of happy tourists ... or happy tour guides, were smiling down upon me and we arrived. Le Pain Quotidien has a lovely atmosphere, another huge 'communal table' option, just like El Vergel ... good food and superb coffees.

It was a good day in the city known as Brussel by the Flemish and Bruxelles by its French inhabitants ... a city that straddles the Flemish/Wallonian divide; that hosts a tri-national government, multi-national corporations and EU politics; where old, new and oftentimes stunning architecture sits side by side, with more superb cafes and restaurants than I'll ever have the time or money to explore.

The Atomium was lit up when we arrived back at the car and this hand-held photograph surprised me by being good enough to see details ...

It was a good day.


Manic said...

Brussels is stunning, I know. Never seen the Atomium in real life yet :(

Manic said...

Brussels is stunning, I know. I'll confess now that I've never been near the Atomium :(.

V-Grrrl said...

I did not know that you're a fan of El Vergel. Cindy and I have met for lunch there and I've gone on my own. My chiropractor's office is very close to it.

They have a Le Pain Quotdien in Stockel and Javacurls and I had lunch there when we met.

Glad you had a great day.

woman wandering said...

Manic ... you'll have to come over and we'll go. I need a 'native' with your instinctive knowledge of things like the interiors of cathedrals and general information about Belgie :)

Oh ... dramatic sigh ... I simply ADORE El Vergel.

Clearly you and I are women of discerning tastes, v-grrrl.

Manic said...

Manic in Brussels? That sounds pretty good. I've got excellent getting lost yet find the place I was aiming for skills. We should consider this bold move to conquer Brussels.

woman wandering said...

Okay manic ... one day when you're free, let's go to Brussels and El Vergel, Atomium hmmm and wander some :)