Sunday, 30 April 2017

Fares please – On the Buses !

Sunday 23rd April 2017

After a day of much walking yesterday we had decided on a more leisurely and easier approach to our exertions for today – we had decided that - but sometimes plans do not quite work out as well as we might wish.
Our plan was to do the Hop On/Hop Off bus tours today – there were two routes to be followed and it would give us a bit of a chance to take it a bit easier and sit down whilst we toured – that’s a good plan isn’t?
On top of that we could use our train ticket from yesterday to get into the centre of town.

We had previously done these tours in Liverpool, Paris and New York and it is the easiest way to see so much in a city and then simply pick out the places that you want to see in more detail and then the bus drives you to the locations that you pick-out – easy, peasy.

I think I can pinpoint the exact moment that the plan went off the rails – we had finished our breakfast a bit early to actually go into the city so I suggested ……. “If you like we could take a stroll up the road and have a look at the canal and then make our way around to the station” …. There you have it; a simple suggestion, which we started out doing.

A gentle stroll up the road, past the roadworks for the tramway extension, to the canal; had a good look at the lock and then carried on along the path alongside the canal.

So, we made it to the canal and had a look at that, then....

Then we came across people with full carry bags walking one way and others with empty trolleys going the other.
Now Diane is pretty quick at sizing things up and she immediately knew that there must be a market just on the other side and of course, instantly knew how to get there.
“Can we just have a little look, please?” – how do you resist – “Yes my lovely”

...the markets

I am sure that there are larger markets, but not sure that there were too many bigger, and we didn’t walk up every aisle – although it did seem like it.
Have to say that all of the produce was better than anything we had seen in
our time on the boat...

...they're doing alright here in Brussels

We came away with a few things and by that stage we then headed for the station and the bus – already we had done more than half our usual daily allowance of steps and we hadn’t started on what was planned for the day.

Train into Bruxelles Centraal, found the guy selling the tickets (and we had some discount vouchers from the Tourist Information office) and the bus was standing there ready for the first trip of the day.
Front seat upstairs – her indoors was pleased – and we were off.

It is a great way to go and we saw places that we might not otherwise have found or bothered with – certainly would not have bothered with the congested traffic around the Atomium area – every person in Brussels must have been in their car and heading the same way.

With little trouble and a bit of patience the bus driver found his way through it all and we were back at our starting point in a little under 90 minutes.

The Atomium - part of the 1958 World's Fair and like the Eiffel Tower, it
was not designed to stay around for long after.
Found this little tram along the way

By that stage it was time for lunch – Diane had her mind set for a Belgian tourist and local staple – no, it had nothing to do with chocolate.
We found a little place called Le Fiacre and a table outside and ordered our meals; whilst we enjoyed a beer and glass of wine and the warm sunshine, we had a great chance to just do a lot of people watching – people going every which way as they too were enjoying the full dose of springtime weather.

The meals arrived and Diane enjoyed the Moules and Frites, whilst I had the Salmon and Frites. Both were very good indeed and nothing survived except for the mussel shells.

A couple of coffees and another beer later, bill paid and we were ready for bus number 2.

A short walk up the hill and luck was with us again – there was a bus waiting for us and just after taking our seats we were off again.
We were a bit disappointed with the commentary tape on this – it kept on jumping and then stopped playing entirely; the driver didn’t know and consequently passengers who wanted to get off at certain stops were unaware that they were approaching these stops and therefore not ready for the stop.

We made a decision to move downstairs and be ready for whatever the next stop was – which happened to be the European Parliament buildings – it appeared that even on a Sunday, just as much work was being done as any other day of the week – of course the building was closed.

Popped into a café for a drink – hot chocolates only, whilst we waited for a bus, but really not in any hurry as we were using their wifi to check out football scores and other stuff – it was a lovely café – London Experience – that was as close as it came to London at all.

Eventually caught the next bus back to the starting point, and by then we were getting a bit tired so as far as we were concerned it was a train back to the hotel and time to relax.

Yesterday’s plan of minimal walking somehow didn’t quite eventuate – there is always tomorrow!

Walking distance so far: 27.0 km (previous) + 7.1 km (Sunday) = 34.1 km (Total)

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