About a Year Ago…

I’m still alive!! Moving back to the States really threw off my blogging. (Not that I was that consistent before!) We’ve been in the FT Leavenworth area since mid-July and we are enjoying being closer to family. Hopefully, I’ll write more soon about our transition and how we’ve been keeping busy. But first, I want to cross off another post that has been on my “To Write” list for the past year.

About a year ago, Brandon was sent to a conference in Brussels, Belgium. Since my job at the Tax Center had ended for the season, I took the opportunity to go with him and enjoyed four days exploring the city with Rudi, another spouse who had also accompanied her husband to the conference.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

After I played for Mass, we drove to Brussels. It was an easy 6-hour drive, and that included stopping at the Nuremberg airport to book our December trip to Majorca. On the way there, the car hit 50,000 miles! (Brandon is particularly proud that he was going 100mph when the odometer turned.)

50,000 miles at 100mph!

Unfortunately, once we arrived at the Crowne Plaza Brussels – Le Palace, we discovered that we left a few things at home. Brandon forgot his “cover” and I forgot the electric toothbrush. At least the hotel had toothbrushes, but they didn’t have any Army berets or patrol caps. We ate dinner at the hotel and enjoyed the fast & free Wi-Fi in the room.

Monday, November 14, 2011

While Brandon and Phil were attending the Counter-IED conference, Rudi and I started exploring Brussels. We followed Rick Steves’ self-guided walks of the Lower Town and the Upper Town.

Hôtel de Ville on Grand Place; Brussels, Belgium

Former Guild Halls on Grand Place; Brussels, Belgium

Maison du Roi on Grand Place; Brussels, Belgium

Manneken Pis; Brussels, Belgium

We stopped for lunch at Le Cirio and enjoyed delicious lunch accompanied by half & halfs…half champagne and half wine.

While Rudi & I were exploring the city, we found a cute restaurant called L’Estrille du Vieux Bruxelles that we went back to for dinner after the guys were done with their conference activities.

L’Estrille Restaurant on Rue de Rollebeek; Brussels, Belgium

We knew it was going to be a good restaurant when we saw the same two gay guys we’d seen at La Cirio at lunch! I had the sampler menu and not one of the six dishes was bad. The wine was also excellent! However, Brandon won best dessert by ordering a baked pear with Speculoos ice cream on a Speculoos cookie. I can’t remember what I ordered for dessert, but his was so good that we still remember it a year later!!

Brandon’s Pear dessert with almond ice cream on a Speculoos cookie; Brussels, Belgium

On our way back to the hotel, we made a detour to find the sister statue to Manneken Pis, Jeanneke Pis. What it is with Brussels and peeing statues??

Jeanneke Pis; Brussels, Belgium

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Today, Rudi and I started at the City Museum to see the costumes of Manneken Pis. It was amazing to see all of the colorful costumes from around the world for a statue!

We met up with the guys at lunch and they decided to skip the afternoon session for a day trip to Bruges. We had a nice time walking around, shopping, and enjoying the quaint city.

Dumon Chocolatier; Bruges, Belgium

Markt Square; Bruges, Belgium

We decided to go back to Brussels for dinner to avoid the late drive on full stomachs. We enjoyed dinner at La Villette.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Rudi humored me by visiting the musical instrument museum. I saw some old clarinets and a really neat double piano. Even Rudi found it pretty interesting and there was a great view from the top restaurant.

Musical Instruments Museum; Brussels, Belgium

Musical Instruments Museum; Brussels, Belgium

View from Musical Instruments Museum Restaurant; Brussels, Belgium

The rest of the day we finished souvenir and chocolate shopping. We finally had waffles, but neither of us could finish because the chocolate topping was so rich and we’d eaten so much delicious Italian food at lunch!

Finding a dinner spot was tricky because the boys ran late and we were out at prime time. We ended up at Belga Queen, which was pretty fancy, busy, and good.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Brandon and I did some last minute shopping for beer before leaving Brussels. We also got to see Manneken Pis in costume! He was honoring the Compagnons du Beaujolais celebrating the official launch of the “Beaujolais nouveau.” Supposedly, he was also peeing Beaujolais that day, but we weren’t able to get close enough to sample.

We did stop for a beer across the street from Manneken Pis, and Brandon was finally able to try the Kwak beer in a genuine glass. It stays in the wooden holder while you drink it.

Unfortunately, when we finally got on the road, we hit several staus that slowed us down and we arrived home late. Still, it was a wonderful trip. While it was a bit cold, November was a nice time to visit Brussels to avoid lots of tourists. And we brought home lots of consumable souvenirs to help us remember it!