An early start to the day with the magic numbers being 6-7-8, 6am wake-up, 7am breakfast and 8am starting. A long journey to Belgium with a single stop for coffee/restroom. Oh! I HAVE to mention this. In Europe the driver has to take a 1/2 hour break after every 2.5hrs of driving he does and he should not be driving for more than 10hrs (8hrs?) a day.So a compulsory stop was made after 2.5hrs through out the 14day trip. The weather continued to be bad in France with cold winds and rain. We reached Atomium (Brussels) only by 12.15pm and after lunch at the mini-europe cafeteria-An Indian lunch again-baked samosas, rice,dal and eggless cake! we were given time until 2.30pm to see the mini-europe. Its again a very well designed place with all the major structures-palaces,windmills,eiffel tower,Arch De Triumph,castles of Germany are all modelled. Nice place to get kids actually. The niece even played with the miniature boats there and another game like we are the police and need to catch the thief who stole something from the Vatican museum – all miniature models and we need to hand peddle to get the thief and police man moving – a very good idea… 🙂
We started from there at around 3pm, reached Brussels. Places of interest-Grand Place Market,Mannekin Pis statue (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manneken_Pis) and we were left to shop around until 6pm.People bought Belgian chocolates while we bought Godiva and shared,bought hot waffles with strawberry,chocolate sauce and cream on top (droolicious) and shared – RM-Thought about you while I ate this 🙂 and we were also given compimentary ice creams – I chose 2 scoops of Rum and raisin cone icecreams as part of the tour :-D.Once done with all the eating, we did some souvenir shopping-Belgium being facmous for lace-bought a miniature lace umbrella,a model of the Mannekin Pis and magnet. Walking back towards the central square saw a shop dedicated to Tintin (Belgium is where Tintin originated from) and rushed in to buy something for the hubby who is a crazy Tintin fan. Unfortunately they had all big stuff and nothing noteworthy to buy-books and T-shirts and huge expensive mugs so we just dropped the idea and went back. We were then given dinner at 7pm in another indian restaurant (Urvashi) and then check-in to the Leonardo Da Vinci hotel at the town centre in Antwerp. Now this hotel is worth a mention – was not that good compared to the other hotels we stayed in during the trip but it was centrally located.We could see the city centre giant wheel, the tube station and the old post office building and our hotel building too looked like it was an old building converted to a hotel with flights of stairs to be climbed to reach the rooms even after taking the lift. Very narrow passages, not much light and stone walls made it more dinghy.What was amusing, was the bathroom was as big as the room itself and yet the shower cubicle was the same small 2×2 feet! We really felt that they didnt know optimum utilisation of space!!Hubby even tripped and fell trying to step around the suitcases-the room was *that* small. Since it was the first evening/night-what do you call it if its still light at 8.30pm? and since we were in the town centre, we decided to just explore the place a little. Walked around the square, at local Fritjes (French Fries) sitting out on the pavement at 9pm, checked out the other restaurants around and walked back to the hotel at 10pm as it began to drizzle.Not much of packing required, and a late wakeup call at 7am to Netherlands had us all a little relaxed.