Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A Brussels Babymoon


Grand Place
As Jaap and I wait around for this baby to arrive, my mind is becoming more and more restless. I've only been on maternity leave for three weeks and yet it feels like three months! I told Jaap and I needed something to do this weekend to keep my mind occupied, so we planned a last minute trip to Brussels. I have never had a proper chance to explore the city and what better time to do it than now before our household goes from "just the two of us" to a family of three. 
We arrived in Brussels and started exploring...first stop...Manneken Pis. An interesting choice for a city's mascot. 
Europe's "greatest square", The Grand Place. Saturday was full of a lot of walking and I was happy that my very pregnant self was able to keep up with it. 
Here's a view of Galeries Roayles St. Hubert...Europe's oldest shopping mall. :)

And finally a quick peak at St. Michael's Cathedral before it was time for me to rest my swollen feet at an art nouveau era cafe near The Bourse.
Break time
Afterwards we had a delicious little lunch at Le Perroquet in the Sablon neighborhood, after a recommendation from a friend (thanks Faye). We walked up to Place du Petit Sablon a nice, little, beautifully landscaped oasis. 
Notre Dame du Sablon Church
The large statues throughout the garden are great Belgian thinkers that once called Brussels home.
And now for one of the best parts of our trip, the hotel. I gotta give props to my amazing-deal-finding husband who found this 5-star hotel at a very affordable price. Who knew Brussels would be so much cheaper in the summertime? Apparently when all the diplomats are out of town on summer holiday, you can get a great bargain. Nice find Jaap!
Stanhope Hotel
One bus ride away from a romantic evening
Drinks on the square
Our dinner reservations weren't until 8:30, so we killed some time having drinks on the Grand Place and enjoyed some decent people watching with nice cool weather. Jaap enjoyed his Kwak beer and I sipped a decaf coffee looking on with envy. I was saving myself for my one glass of wine at dinner. :)
Dinner was at a simple seafood restaurant in the Sainte Catherine-Fish Market neighborhood. I highly recommend La Maree on a visit to Brussels. This place rocks. Even though I debated getting some other type of seafood from the menu, I knew I would order "mussels from Brussels". I'm glad I did though...they were delicious!
Mussels "from the House"
What does Jaap order at a seafood restaurant? The filet. :)
Our romantic evening was perfect. Excellent service, simple and delicious food, and a friendly atmosphere. Just when I thought the meal couldn't get any better, the chef comes out, walks around, and asks all the guests how their meal was. I told Jaap to pinch me because you never get great service AND good tasting food like this in Maastricht. And as much as I love little Maastricht, it's still the most expensive place to eat in Europe.
I was definitely "living in the moment" trying to take in all our remaining couple time we have left before our little baby arrives. The best part of the evening wasn't the delicious food, but the great company with my loving husband. :)
Secret family recipe from Chef--we have no idea what it was...but it was delicious!
The Stanhope Hotel did not disappoint with their breakfast. Jaap and I both agree that it has taken over the number spot of best hotel breakfasts ever. Lekker!
Good-bye King Albert
Sunday was a quick sightseeing day for us, shortened by my fatigue from this horribly hot weather sweeping through Northern Europe. We just happened to be in Brussels the same weekend that Belgium inaugrates King Philippe to the throne and staying literally around the corner from the inauguration. We had a quick stroll around Parc de Bruxelles to enjoy the festivities before heading back to Maastricht.

Thanks Jaap for a great babymoon weekend!

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