Smoked breakfast

Unfortunately Mirinda’s book lived up to its hype and she subsequently didn’t turn the light off until 4:30am. Also we’ve kept the air conditioning on at 16° every night because the road is too busy to open the window and I think I’ve caught a cold. A good time to go home, I think.

One really annoying thing about this hotel is that people are allowed to smoke at breakfast. Now, I’m no wowser and smoke doesn’t really bother me overmuch but a first thing in the morning assault as you slice some bread and take some cold meat is a bit much. At the prices they charge a little comfort during the first meal of the day could be considered. Or perhaps this place is only for smokers and we barged in. Definitely time to leave!

A taxi dropped us outside what was, in essence, a building site. Mirinda, in a panic, thought this was some sort of elaborate ruse to drop us somewhere other than at a train (I have no idea why she thought this unless, of course, I was mistaken for an Italian spy). Imperiously, she demanded to be told where Eurostar was. The poor driver pointed to between two sets of hoardings. The smells bought back the memories of many hours spent on many building sites. This is my overwhelming impression of Brussels – road and building works. This does not appear to indicate an economy in distress, as our first Belgian assured us was the case.

Arrived at Gare Midi one-and-a-half hours early. We wandered round the shops then sat in the Eurostar lounge with lots of other tourists.

The trip back was not as comfortable. Firstly the air conditioning was set too hot (I assume for the poor freezing English) and we were variously entertained by someone’s very loud Walkman, numerous mobile text messages arriving and a couple (who were not a couple though Mirinda thought he wanted to be) who felt it only fair to include everyone in the carriage in their conversation. Oddly enough even when she stopped talking she managed to make a lot of noise just existing as was demonstrated when the guy got off at Ashford and she had to entertain herself with a newspaper.

Naturally as soon as we hit English rails we were ten minutes late. However at Waterloo we managed to catch the 3:20 Alton train almost straight away. Walked into the cottage, grabbed a chequebook and left for the kennel to pick up the puppies.

All in all an interesting city break (our first) but, sadly, I have to say, I do not recommend Brussels. But here’s a nice picture to finish up on!

Triumphal arch

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