Friday, October 30, 2015

Brussels, Belgium: 3 nights, September 19-21

Brussels is only 1 hour away from Bruges so we arrived early in the day. It was an easy local metro ride from the station to our stop. Then just a few blocks of walking to the hotel.

Upon entering the lobby, Mike and I both had to do a double take on the elegance of it. Is this really our hotel? We had purposefully made the decision to go budget on our hotels, as we don't spend much time in them. As long as they are clean, have a decent bed, functioning bathroom, and good internet, we are happy. Our places up to this point had been small and sparse. Sometimes the Internet was not so great but the beds had been decent. This place was a whole different upper caliber and it was the most inexpensive room so far. So fun to actually have a beautiful hotel room.  I felt so pampered! 

Mike’s cousin, Tom Keppler, who lives in Connecticut, is an American Airlines pilot. He had decided to take some vacation and meet up with us in Brussels. We were delighted! So, shortly after our arrival, we met up at our hotel to then go find lunch. We did so off a small plaza.




From there we walked toward the center city square where they were having a folk festival. The place was swarming with people!  It's a beautiful square with grand buildings.
















 Only a short walk and Mike got to see the Mannequin Piss statue dressed in one of its 800 different attires. I prefer it naked in its original form. And, for those that don't know, it's really quite small. Just a little boy peeing on fuses to keep explosives from exploding.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manneken_Pis



Chocolate Version.
 After a lot more walking through town, it was time to stop off for a pint and a vino at ??? Just across from the Mannaquin Piss statue. A fun place to stop, for sure!













 I decided I couldn't continue on due to my cold, so the guys walked me back to the hotel and then they went off for the evening enjoying the quaint, bustling streets and imbibing some great brews at the Delirium Cafe and then some pizza.. I was long asleep by the time Mike returned.



























We slept late and enjoyed a leisure morning in our room, as I had a coffee maker in our room for the first time. A BIG deal! 

Meeting up with Tom for lunch, we decided to walk down the main thoroughfare. No cars anywhere, just throngs of people and families out enjoying the beautiful day. We found a sidewalk café that worked for all of us and enjoyed not being in a hurry.




 Tom had decided that he wanted to go through the music museum and find a Tango group later on. We continued to wander the streets and enjoy another part of town.










It was then time to make our way to the north side of town by metro to the World’s Fair site and the Expo center where we were going to meet up with our friend, Andre Corbeil. We met Andre through our friends, Shauna & Rob, in PV. They had all worked together for Cirque du Soleil.
Cirque was going to be in Brussels when we were in the area, so we had been invited by Andre to come see him and the show. We were so excited!


We arrived a little early in the area, so we decided to stop at one of the cafes and have an afternoon libation. With a half hour to get to our meeting point, which we could see from where we were, Mike and I headed that way. Well, let me tell you how frustrating it is when you can see where you're supposed to be but can't get there without walking a couple of miles around. We finally arrived at the employee’s gate almost one hour later after a speed walking marathon. Fortunately, Andre still had 10 minutes to spare!!

Having only seen Cirque in Vegas and Orlando in permanent venues, seeing and experiencing it in the Big Circus Tent format is a completely different and emotional experience!  Our seats were front row with the stage literally no more than 3 feet in front of us. Total seating is no more than 2,500, so it's extremely intimate. The performers are no more than mere inches from you, at times.




The show is called Amaluna and is a love story. There was so much talent and skill either in music or acrobatics going on at all times. Simply, WOW!! Enjoy my not so legal photos. :)





















Andre works the sound direction for the show and honored us with a backstage tour afterwards, we learned what it takes to keep this small city of a show running.It takes about 76 semiloads to move the show. In the process, we also had the pleasure of meeting several of the performers who also know our friends, Shauna & Rob. What an experience we never ever thought possible. One of the perks of meeting people from all over the world.















We hopped on the performer’s bus with Andre that would take them back to their respective housing in the area. Andre was taking us to a local pub in his neighborhood. After a few drinks, we bid adieu to our friend. Parting is such sweet sorrow!! Andre was off the next day back to Montreal for a 2 week vacation and a wonderful visit with his daughter.


We had been dreaming and planning this time with Andre for 6 months and it was hard to believe that our time together was now come and gone. Until next time, our friend!!

The next day, we were up and out to make our way to Paris. Tom was taking a later train and we would meet up later.  Wow!! Four stops out of 10 already in the history books.

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