I was ready to leave London and see what was happening on the other side of the channel. On my last day I made a quick trip to Westminster Abby to pay my respects to Queen Elizabeth I who is buried there along with many others. The site and the building are very ancient with much history. Saw the coronation chair, which looks like it has been through the wringer, and has been part of the coronation ceremony from the early days without interruption – now that is consistency!
I’ll be back to London in December, or late November, and will continue to visit the many attractions and learn the history. I’d like to spend Christmas in London. And also enjoy the city when the heat and humidity are history. I could live in London for years and not take in all there is to see, do and learn. This visit, I just touched the surface.
After the visit to the Abby, I made it back to the flat and my hosts (very thoughtful and kind) who served tea and light snacks before catching a taxi to St. Pancras, where the Eurostar begins the journey to Brussels. Even with a stop in Lille, we were able to reach Brussels in 2 hours. The trip through the Chunnel was not quite what I expected – though wasn’t sure what I expected. After seeing a documentary on how it was built, thought there would be more to it. Anyway… We left St. Pancras and went through a series of tunnels, then the open fields leading through Ashford (England) before it enters the channel tunnel. Without any announcement, there is darkness for a little less than 20 minutes, then we find ourselves in the open fields of France to Lille.
Side note: I see many, what look like, small farms on the way to Brussels. Saw also small farms when I took my day trip to the cliffs of Dover. Not sure why I like that, but I do.
So now we begin “Welcome to Belgium”. Maybe some who are reading this assume that I’ve been to Europe. Actually, this is my first trip here. Being in Brussels, I’m now at a location where not everyone speaks English and I need to really pay attention. My French is very limited, but can read signs and get the drift. I’ve been here a day and now just go with the flow.
As of today, I had to go to “Plan B”. The weather in London, and also Brussels, has been hot, along with high humidity. The Airbnb that I checked into yesterday had no air conditioning. Last night, I maybe got an hour or two of sleep. I opened the window to let the minimal breeze carry in some cool air but it also brought with it mosquitoes. I had already taken two showers and was still hot and very uncomfortable. To pass the time, I looked for a hotel with air conditioning. I’m now in a nice hotel, centrally located, with air conditioning and room service. I’ll stay here for two nights before my next Airbnb, which will be a flat that I’ll have to myself. The one I stayed at last night was with 5 people sharing a kitchen and bath, which I didn’t mind so much, but the heat!
This morning, before moving to the hotel, I walked up to the Atomium, an attraction from the 1958 Brussels World’s Fair, one of the reasons I was attracted to Brussels. I had, as a pre-schooler, a Viewmaster disk of the 1958 fair and remember being in awe of the picture of the Atomium. It was so amazing, I didn’t think it was real. So today, I saw it in person and it is truly amazing. Looks like something from another world and you wonder how it supports itself. As a footnote: it was designed by the engineer Andre Waterkeyn and architects Andre and Jean Polak and it stands 102 meters tall. The Atomium is a giant model of a unit cell of an iron crystal (each sphere representing an atom). As an added note, the fair, the first worlds fare since the end of WWII, was opened with a call for world peace and social and economic progress.
The pictures today are of mainly (naturally) of the Atomium and also a church (Brussels’ Notre Dame from the 15th century) that was a couple of blocks away from where I spent the one night at the Airbnb.
Tomorrow will be more R&R. I’ve been averaging 20K steps (plus!) per day for the last couple of weeks. I’m looking forward to two nights with blackout curtains and air conditioning. 🙂 And room service!
First Sighting: Atomium
Atomium (South View)
Atomium (North View)
Notre Dame Brussels (Front)
Notre Dame Brussels (Side)
Monument by Royal Palace