Four hours in Brussels

Mussels in Brussels…

I’ve been to Brussels many times now, often with work for EU coverage, but occasionally also for a fun trip to see a friend who lives there. We normally use it as a stepping stone – stay one night and move on to Brugge or Holland.

On a recent trip back to Liverpool, the cheapest flight we found was via Brussels. There was a connection at the airport in two hours, or four hours. We thought it was crazy to be in the land of delicious chocolate and not try at least to get some, so we challenged ourselves to do all the exciting things in Brussels in just four hours – we were literally running for our flight at the end and didn’t get any waffles, but we were pretty full by then anyway.

If you only have a short stop-over in Brussels, here’s how you do it:

You must eat mussels in Brussels – there is a street jam-packed with restaurants (Rue des Bouchers), they’re all similarly priced and taste the same (to me anyway). We went to Le Petit Bruxelles – even thought it was pretty empty it took forever to serve our food. I enjoyed the mussels and Jason loved his steak. After seeing the reviews for it, I would probably recommend trying somewhere else, but it did the job!

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From there it’s a five minute walk to the Grand Place, a huge market square with cobbled stones and beautiful buildings.

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Then you walk down to the Manneken Pis (Peeing Boy) – he’s famous enough for me to have known about him before I ever went to Belgium, but disappointingly small in real life.

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Then you pop into one of the many many many chocolate stores and get some nibbles for the journey home. Don’t forget a hot chocolate too – they are divine in Belgium!!

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If you can fit in a waffle, then I’m impressed, otherwise rush back to the airport – this city can be done in just four hours and it’s on to the next place :)

PS: We found some cool things at the airport I just had to share with you… no runny cheese in hand-luggage allowed and if you need to charge your phone just jump on one of these bikes and make your own electricity!

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Five Places I want to return to!

Take me home…

I found this really fun blog post idea at www.booked.net – Top Destinations to Go There. Basically, I had to think of five destinations I would like to return to. ONLY FIVE? I have so many favourite places in the world and so many more to discover. It was a hard choice, but here is what I came up with:

Paris, France

It annoys me immensely that the best Ramen in the whole world is in Paris, but there you go. I would go back in an instant to eat Ramen at Naritake. I want you all to know that I have eaten SO MUCH RAMEN in my life (five years in Japan make me an expert) and this is by far the best I have ever eaten. Jason agrees too, so it must be true. Also memories of us climbing up the Eiffel Tower with a beret and a baguette whilst wearing a pin-stripe t-shirt still make me giggle. A wonderful city for food and wine :)

The Eiffel Tower in Paris

The Eiffel Tower in Paris

Jason broke the baguette at the top of the Eiffel Tower - doh!

Jason broke the baguette at the top of the Eiffel Tower – doh!

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Terengganu, Malaysia

Not all of you will know that my father was actually born and brought up in Malaysia. He loves to take us there. We went to see his old home and school and it was so lovely to see where he grew up in Kuala Lumpur. Then it’s beach time, often in Terengganu on the east-coast where you can stay in posh hotels for a small price. The fruit is fresh from the trees and melts in your mouth and the beaches are sandy and empty. The only thing you have to worry about is where that lizard in the bedroom went…1914136_518080762073_3558671_n 1914136_518080881833_4249394_n

Oki Islands, Japan

The Oki Islands are a group of islands in the Japan Sea. We visited this summer and they are by far the most untouched and rural place I have been to in Japan. We got the ferry over and were then dropped off at the top of Matengai Cliff, which we slowly hiked down. The views were stunning, we walked by horses and cows (luckily they didn’t want to attack us) and we didn’t meet a single other person the whole time – it’s very much off the beaten track, but I would love to visit again one day.
DSC_0032-002 DSC_0060-002 DSC_0005-002Bruges, Belgium

One of our favourite trips ever. Bruges is stunning, we took a boat tour, wandered the cobbled streets and rented a bike and actually cycled along the completely flat roads all the way into Holland along the canals. The mussels in Brussels were great, the pancakes in Holland too, but the chocolate in Bruges was the best of it all – you people need to visit this lovely city!

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Amsterdam, The Netherlands

This city has something special – so many bicycles, lovely canals and on King’s Day the entire country goes orange – it’s something really wild and fun to experience! I love the feel to the city and how multicultural the people are. I would love to live in Holland one day… who knows, maybe it’s next on the list of places to move to!

So many bicycles!

So many bicycles!

King's Day

King’s Day

The tulips are just stunning!

The tulips are just stunning!

I hope my blogging friends will also make a post like this! I’d love to read your versions Charlotte, Confuzzledom, Shannon, Janet and Eating Wiesbaden :)

There are so many more places I want to go back to one day – Israel has the friendliest people I have ever met, Mexico the most fun, Ghana the smiliest and England, well, I love England – best country in the world!! I have also found I love Germany, but I know there are many places I’m still waiting to discover…

Where would you like to return to one day and why?

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PicMonkey

Photoshop me baby!

I have been browsing the internet a little bit to find something that makes photos a little more interesting for you all and makes our blog look pretty. I’ve been working on my photography, but if I’m totally honest, the camera is so heavy and I don’t want it to get nicked and and and… so many excuses. When I look at the photos from our camera, I’m shocked at how beautiful they are.

So last night I found this really cool (and totally free) website called PicMonkey. It’s so easy to use, even I figured it out with Jason’s help – haha. You put your photo up and make it more beautiful. The top photo is the original – it’s a pic I took in Japan and one of my favourites. With just a few clicks I made it all jazzy – have a try yourself :)

Original Photo

Original Photo

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Friday Links

Twistin’ the night away…

60 Habits You Formed In Japan That Will Never Work In Your Country. 

My friend’s rock video! It was set in my little town when we both lived there and was nice to re-watch and see all the old sights and the people :)

Kitchen Surfing – you order a chef to cook for you and your friends at your home – amazing idea – hint hint…

Tattoos with a difference!

This week a lovely friend of mine had a bike accident and is all black and blue – she is lucky she was wearing a helmet! Hopefully this will help cyclists stay safe!

So many allergies :(

Confused about what to do in your life next?

OMG Flyboarding - I must try this!

Need a job?

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Grüne Woche

Three little piggies went to market…

The best thing I have seen this year so far is a moonwalking ginger pig – yup, you read that correctly – and you can see it too!

Ginger Pigs!!

Ginger Pigs!!

Last year a friend invited us along to an event whilst regaling tales of cute dogs, chicks and food from every country in the world. With the mention of food, Jason and I were of course ready with our shoes on – haha. I’m feeling lazy and my wrist is hurting a lot these days (sad face) so I’m just going to steal the official introduction of Grüne Woche.

Established in 1926, International Green Week is taking place for the 80th time in 2015. The IGW is a one-of-a-kind international exhibition for the food, agricultural and horticultural industries. At the same time, the IGW is the point of origin for the Global Forum for Food and Agriculture (GFFA) with more than 65 departmental ministers. Producers from all over the world come to IGW to test market food and luxury items and reinforce their brand image. Following consumer trends, regional sourcing plays an increasingly important role. Renewable resources, organic agricultural, rural development and gardening continue to gain importance at International Green Week.

In more fun terms, you can play with pigs and pugs, get real English cheese and drink your way through every beer in the world, whilst sipping on Canadian whisky shots (highly recommended!). The Messe is HUGE and you actually will need a map to figure out where you want to go. We walked around for three hours non-stop and didn’t see anything twice. We also didn’t even see everything!

Each country or German county has a stand, from Iran and Yemen to Hildesheim and Bayern. Some are tiny and just sell a couple of sausages or ice cream, others are huge and cover such a large space that people can eat, drink, dance and buy local produce there. You can watch Moroccan drumming, Bavarian dancing in Lederhosen and horse show-jumping. When you get hungry, choose from Indian curry, white sausages, Hamburg’s finest fish or a roast beef dinner with all the trimmings. Thirsty? There are so many beers to choose from, I wouldn’t even know where to start…

Last year I spent about three hours looking at the piglets – they are so absolutely adorable! If you are super lucky, you might see one of the ginger pigs do the moonwalk – that was the highlight for me!

The flower installations are amazing – you can buy all sorts of things for your garden, whether you need instruments or bulbs and we even saw one stand offering coffins… My photo on this blog (me surrounded by yellow gerberas) is actually from last year!

If you go after 2pm it’s only €9 and get your tickets online to save yourself standing in the queue as it’s outside and Berlin winters are harsh! Here are some photos – and the stuff we ate and bought :)

Started with a Colombian expresso

Started with a Colombian expresso

Italian ice cream was the starter...

Italian ice cream was the starter…

Nomminess from Hungary!

Nomminess from Hungary!

Belgian beer!

Belgian beer!

This is what it looks like inside :)

This is what it looks like inside :)

MORE PIGS!

PIGS!

PIGS

MORE PIGS!

Rabbit shot!

Rabbit shot!

Chick shot!

Chick shot!

Prettiest pony ever!

Prettiest pony ever!

So many varieties of apples - OMG!

So many varieties of apples – OMG!

All the awesome stuff we bought - Salt n Vinegar crisps, extra mature cheddar, Ginger Nut biscuits and belgian chocolates!

All the awesome stuff we bought – Salt n Vinegar crisps, extra mature cheddar, Ginger Nut biscuits and belgian chocolates!

Dates: 16 – 25 January 2015 or if you missed it this year, 15 – 24 January 2016
Address: Messedamm 22, 14055 Berlin

And just to say thank you for reading the whole thing, check out our amusing photo:

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