My darlin’ sis will be leaving tomorrow although I do need to get back to a more productive life, probably! It’s been such fun having her here. In the end, my actual birthday (Friday) ended up being quite low-key, as I had a work thing to finish that just would not wrap up easily, and so it was good that we had our weekend adventure to look forward to.
We took off for Brussels on the Eurostar train mid-afternoon on Saturday. We had decided quite purposefully not to go too early Saturday morning, although in the end we were quite efficient and actually got to central London early enough to enjoy one of the new restaurants in St. Pancras Intl., a “build your own salad” place that we quite liked. We took the “normal” service to Brussels on Saturday (more on that in a moment) and got in on time. We were determined to brave the public transport to find our hotel, and thus managed to get on a tram heading south from Brussels Zuid (south)–oops. Three stops, turned around, back to where we started, and then finally to our destination.
Being Minnesota girls, I had booked us in at the Radisson and again everything was not quite right, first they put us in a room with a double bed instead of two twins, then we moved rooms only to find it was set up for one person (one set of bathrobe+slippers, this would not do at all!) and finally got it organized. We had dinner at a reasonably nondescript place, but managed to find moules frites and Belgian beer, which were our two requirements. Since it was dark and we did not have our bearings yet, it was good to stay close to the hotel. We picked up some more tasty tipples and hung out in the hotel.
We got up on Sunday morning at a decent hour and had the hotel breakfast before setting out on our adventures. Here’s where a slight bit of poor planning kicked in: it was absolutely freezing. It was windy, it was drafty, and although I was dressed okay for the temperate weather in England this time of year (more on that in a moment!), I was not at all prepared for the freezy Belgian winds. We soldiered on, however, stopping for coffee and the requisite Belgian waffle and coffee in the Grand Place. We wandered up to the upper town and decided it was lacking, and returned to the lower town where we found a much more authentic dining experience, and again munched moules frites and beer. We came back from Brussels on “Leisure Select” Eurostar this time, which was a total blast since the cabin was nearly empty and the steward plied us with champagne, at one point giving us an extra glass for “our imaginary friend”… he could not have known how accurate he was given the history there with my sister’s imaginary friend(s) from youth. Very perceptive. The train was delayed and we arrived to find the first of the big snow falling in London.
Ah, the snow. I had to get up and work Monday morning, and was cursing the importance of my 11 am engagement. The snow was falling hard by this point, and it was difficult walking to get to work BUT the temperatures felt downright balmy compared with Brussels! My thigh muscles were straining trying to keep balance even though I was wearing my Doc Martens combat boots for the first time in ages. I made it through a number of essential meetings and tasks, and escaped around 3:30 pm to try and get some shopping done with sis, only to discover that the high street shoppes were closing down early “due to inclement weather”… now note that by this point, the snow flakes were smaller and coming down much slower, and the roads were neither icy nor snowy any more. In fact, by the time I went to bed, it was raining and there was essentially no sign of snow on my street. I woke this morning to blue skies and sunshine.
We are now back to my sister’s last full day here, and I kept my work commitments again as light as possible, which means I will be putting in long hours the rest of the week and all weekend long–but totally worth it, of course! I have a more expat-related story to relay, but will wait to type that until my sister is no longer here to amuse me.