It’s only an hour by train from Brugges to Brussels and we decided the EU capital was worth an overnight stay so here we are, eating giant merangues, taking photos of Manneken-Pis (the peeing boy) along with every other tourist in Brussels, and marveling at the intricate lace and tapestries the Belgians are famous for. Comic art is also big in Belgium. Perhaps you’ve heard of Tintin and his petit blanc terrier, Snowy? The predominant language is French rather than Flemish-Dutch so we’re practicing our merci boucoup and s’il vous plait.
Tourism is alive and well in Brussels so we find opportunities aplenty for muddling through our smattering of languages in order to learn from Indian, Gaelic and Italian visitors, to name a few. Today we met an Italian couple from Rome. The conversation was lively, as is to be expected with Italians, and we discover we aren’t so very different afterall. We talk about our kids, parents, hopes and dreams for the future, and the ways our countries are changing. As we said “ciao” we kiss the customary Italian two cheeks and wish each other well.
Gord and I agree that for the newbie traveller, The Netherlands and Belgium are “top of the bill,” to quote our hotel concierge. Everyone speaks English making it easy to communicate and find your way. The food is similar to North American food, the euro is the only currency to contend with, and accommodation is something we would expect at home as each room has its own bathroom, comfy western-style bed and an elevator down the hall. You still get that European old-style feel with the cobbled streets, marble architecture and rich history.
Tomorrow we head to Cologne and hop on a night train to Prague. Internet access is unlikely but we will take time to write once we settle in. Until then — seek adventure, embrace something completely new and appreciate diversity. Happy travels!