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Trip Report Amsterdam to Brussels and places in Between

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As usual Fodorites gave me a lot of good advice planning this trip. It all worked out well so here we go with my report.

Here is some background that may help:
We are a senior couple (68 and 71).
We used all public transportation.
We traveled from New York to Amsterdam (day trip to Haarlem), Otterlo, Utrecht,Delft, Bruges,Ghent, Antwerp, Brussels with a day trip to Maastricht.


Amsterdam

I was nervous as usual before departure. I went to bed Sunday night not knowing where Rick Steves was. I cannot go to Europe without Rick. When I woke up I asked my wonderful fellow traveler if he knew what happened to Rick. His answer was that it would turn up. I knew Rick would not appear unless I looked for him so I proceeded to tear the house apart. Aggravated with my behavior, my significant other went through his stuff and found it. Our trip to the airport was great- taxi to Metro North, bus from Grand Central. (Most people who live where I do in Westchester, NY do not realize that it is not too difficult to get the the airport without a private car.) No problem!

Plane was on time and the KLM captain and the crew were wonderful.

After landing we went to the train station at the airport. I was able to buy all my tickets for the Netherlands at one time. I just hate that Europeans have chip credit cards and we do not. I had to pay cash for all the tickets. No miles!

After dropping our bags off at the hotel, we went to the Rijksmuseum and then the Van Gough. I got so tired toward the end of the Van Gough.

We left and went to Vondelpark. It was so beautiful. The weather was beautiful. Then we went up by the Anne Frank House. First we went to a cafe by the canal for a drink. I wanted to try jenever which is a gin made from juniper berries so we decided to share a large beer and jenever chaser. Later, we went to the Anne Frank House and then to dinner at Moeders. It was great authentic Dutch food. I had a beef stew and potatoes with red cabbage. Peter had a rib eye. At this point jet lag had set in really bad. I can’t even remember the dessert.

Our bed at the hotel ( Hotel Flacon Plaza) was so comfortable. It was a short walk to the metro and trams. I love trams. We bought a four day pass and just jumped on and off of trams everywhere . We also got a Museumkaart that worked in every museum in the Netherlands not just Amsterdam. It paid for itself after four museums and we went to many more.

On Wednesday, our second day in Amsterdam, we went to the Hermatage Museum which had an Impressionism show. The impressionist pieces were beautiful and the building was magnificent. After the Hermatage, we visited Rembrandtd's house.

Then we went in search of a herring sandwich which I had read about on Fodors and a cat boat. We did not find the cat boat until a few days later but we did find the herring stand on a bridge near the Singel canal (Stubbe's Haring). We sat by the canal and ate a sandwich with herring and onions and pickles and breaded cod nuggets. I was sooooo happy we found it.

We then made our way to the Amsterdam Museum. By the museum, we searched for Begijohf,a former woman's community but we did not find it that day.

We went to dinner at Kantjil En De Tijger. We chose it because we wanted to have rijsttafels (rice bowls). So many sources had recommended this place and it did not disappoint. There was hardly enough room on the table for all the plates and bowls.

After dinner, we made our way to the Red Light District tour. Our guide was great. They say it is one of the safest areas in Amsterdam. We did see many women working that night. It was also amazing how many shops sell really sweet pastries etc. I think it's because so many people smoke marijuana and crave sweets. At the end of our tour we met with a woman who used to work there and she answered our questions.

Then it was back on the tram to go home.

Thursday we left Amsterdam to spend a day in Haarlem .We sat on the side of the train that Rick told us to do with Amsterdam to our back. It was a fast and scenic ride.

In Haarlem we walked through all the streets with high end stores. At the end of many blocks, we arrived at the Franz Halls house. So much of the work was not his but purchases he had made. Besides the paintings, the furniture and china was beautiful.

From there we went into a very sweet little museum- the Haarlem Museum. The people were so friendly and accommodated us by putting the film on in English and answering many questions.

We also went to the Tylers’ Museum which has many Italian masterpieces.
When we came out, we sat for a while by the canal and then we went in search of French fries. Rick mentioned a place behind the church. (Friethuis de Vlamick-Warmoesdtraat 3). It was easy to find. We got one order with the traditional mayonnaise and the other with a curry sauce. As we sat on a bench eating our fries, the heavens opened up.

Luckily for us, it was time to go to the New Kierk Church for an organ recital. It was great.

After church, we returned to Amsterdam for dinner. We followed Rick's directions to the Bazaar in a block of the Albert Cuy Market (Albert Cuypstraat 182). What a fun and delicious place!!!!! Portions are huge and soooo good. Peter had the meal of the day which began with biggest soup bowl I have ever seen. The lentle soup was accompanied by yogurt and a bowl of berries. His meal was a marinated beef with greens and rice I had couscous with meat skewers (beef, lamb and chicken)Our only regret was we had to skip out before dessert to get to the concert on time.

We reluctantly flew out of the Bazaar and got the tram to Concertgebou. On the tram, we met two people who were part of the symphony. Just as we got off the tram it started to pour again and it poured the whole time we were inside the concert hall. The venue was so beautiful and the music was magnificent. When I ordered the tickets, very few were left so Peter and I sat on different sides of a column- we had so much leg room.Luckily, it stopped raining by the time the concert was over.

Friday became a church day. We started in Dam Square at the De Nieuwe Kerk which had an art installation,Jan Fabre.Then we visited St. Nicholas (patron saint of Amsterdam and fishermen). Next, we went to the Old Church and ended with the Church in the Attic. The Church in the Attic was sweet. The new and old churches did not appeal to me. They are too drab. We also visited Begijhof, a courtyard where a community of women had lived in a community like nuns. It was a very peaceful lovely place.

After all that religion we went to Niewmarket. Of course to get there we had to go through the Red Light District again. We wanted to have cheese fondu at Cafe Bern but it did not open till 4pm

We decided to eat near the Resistence Museum, Verzets, since we were going there. Rick and others recommended a place called Plancius but when we got there we discovered that they had changed hands. The new place did not look that great so we went a block away to another Rick suggestion. This was the first time Rick failed us. We went to Cafe Koosje. We ordered a simple lunch and had a beer while we waited. After a long wait, we asked the waiter what was happening and he had forgotten to even put in our order. I was really annoyed. We just left because we had wasted so much time.

The Resistence Museum was very well done. From there we quickly made our way to the Tropen Museum. We loved it but it closed at 5pm so we had to rush through .

Since we had to go to Centraal Station to get to the tram for our dinner canal cruise, we visited the library which was spoken of as an architectural masterpiece. It was ok.

Although it was raining, the cruise was very lovely. It was not crowded so we had a table to ourselves. The food was very good. Our hostess, Bo, was very solicitous. The captain had a little problem with a boat malfunction but he fixed it. The cruise was a perfect goodbye to Amsterdam .

Saturday was our day to leave. When we got to Centraal Station, we decided to take the free ferry across to where the new film museum is. It was such a beautiful day. The museum is very well done. They had a Stanley Kubrick exhibit. The presentation of all the films is very well done.

Next we set off on our travels to Otterlo. We had to go to Utrecht and then change and take a train to Ede Weingertaingen. Then we had to take a bus to Otterlo. We arrived at about 4:30 so we checked in and then went for a walk. We wanted to rent bikes but the store was already closed. We had a great dinner at De Waldhoorn in Otterlo. We were back at our hotel (Grand Café Krueller) at about 8:30. It was our first night home before 10:30 so it felt good.
( I will continue over the next few days)

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    Otterlo

    We woke up to a wonderful breakfast in the Cafe Kroller, in Otterlo, which is walking distance to the Kroller-Muller museum. We had such wonderful cheeses,ham and other meats. It is such a lovely place.

    After breakfast, we set out for the museum. The museum is set within a national park. We walked from our hotel to the park entrance. After entering we chose our free white bikes( the park has 1700 bikes for visitors). We rode to the museum which was magnificent . Helen ( Kroeller that is) loved Van Gough so there were many of his pieces along with other great acquisitions .

    We visited the sculpture garden leading to the entrance and then we did the museum. Of course my significant other brought his whole back pack with a change of shoes but did not bring his museum card.

    Friends on Fodors had said to get the museum card and I am very grateful for their suggestion. I paid E49 for the card and to date I would have paid E120 for admissions to museums. It is really worth it especially if you take it with you!!

    Instead of doing the other side of the sculpture garden, we took to the bikes. We first went to the visitor center and listened to the horn concert. We bought a bike tour from the “I”and set out with my wonderful boy scout husband as the guide. I got dizzy from making so many u turns. I thought boy scouts were supposed to be able to read maps. Enough said.

    We returned to the sculpture garden which is just too much for words to describe. Eventually, they threw us out. A man and a woman followed us on bikes to make sure we made our way to the exit.

    After a beautiful ride back to the park entrance, we went to our favorite little place in Otterlo for two very large beers.

    Then we went back to our own hotel (Grand Cafe Kruller) for dinner because the breakfasts were so good. Dinner was great. PB had a soup of spring onion and almonds. I had a niciose salad. For the main course PB had perch fillet and I had osso bucco. For dessert, PB had a cheese platter and I had chocolate mousse, ice cream and whipped cream . We ordered a bottle of wine and the waiter brought a bottle and a ruler so if you didn't drink the whole bottle, they could measure how much you owed. Of course, we didn't need the ruler. It was a lovely meal . It was great to be able to just slide into our beds after a busy day biking,

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    Delft
    When I put my head on the pillow our last might in Otterlo , I thought we were going straight to Utrecht the next day. While I was sleeping my fellow traveler had planned a whole side trip to Arnhem where Rich recommended an open air museum. This meant taking a bus to Arnhem and then another bus to the museum-all with back packs etc. It actually worked out well. The train station had lockers so that solved one problem. The museum was ok. It was like a history of farming, windmills, transportation and other trends. It was a beautiful day and the animals were great.
    We left for Utrecht from Arnhem and all worked out well. We just got on a tram (I love trams!) at the Utrecht station and it brought us across the street from our hotel (Hotel OorsprongparK). Our hotel was just like any house on the block. I felt like I was living in a brownstone with two flights of stairs included. I always forget that in Europe the first floor is really our second floor .
    We settled in and then walked around town. It was wall to wall students. It was a Monday so almost everything was closed. Actually, that' s why we had decided to go to Arnhem.
    We did find a wonderful restaurant recommended by our hotel (Restaurant Goesting) . It was a beautiful night and they had outside seating. PB got the price fix which stated with delicious rare beef, Spanish sausage and a cold slaw like salad. Then PB had a almond crusted halibut and I had duck. The dessert was strawberries soaked in brandy, whipped cream and a lemoncello sorbet.
    We began the next morning with another lovely breakfast and then of to Delft. We thought we were on the wrong train because it was going to Rotterdam instead of Den Haag but we found out you could switch at either place. When we got to Delft, the train station was a mess but we found our way out. We began to walk along the canal and I looked up and our hotel was right there (Hotel Leeuwenbrug). I always hold my breath until I see the place myself even though Rick had recommended it. They said our room was ready and let us check in early.
    We started our stay with a canal tour just by our hotel. Then we walked around the town . We had lunch on a barge in the canal at a sandwich place that both the hotel and Rick had recommended (Kleyweg’s Stads-Koffyhuis). They had trophies displayed that they received for their sandwiches. PB got "Take Out" . It was made on really dark bread with cheese , figs, walnuts, honey and rocket lettuce. Mine was "Alex" If was made on a corn roll with rare beef, tangerines, lettuce and cheese .
    We visited the Vermeer Center which was interesting . "The Girl with the Pearl Earring is in Den Haag but was being restored. Again we visited the Old and New Church - always so dark.
    I really did not want to go to the Delft Factory. I was surrounded by Delft and I certainly was not into buying Delft and carrying it around in my backpack.
    We then took a long walk and wound up sitting with two swans along the canal and watched all the students practicing crew.
    Later we went to Beetenmarket to find a place for dinner. We sat for a beer and I checked out #36. As soon as I saw it, I knew we had to eat there. It was a little cool so we ate inside. PB asked the waiter about the fish of the day. He said it was a flat fish and its eyes go to one side so PB said, "It's a fluke." With this the chef came out to say it was not a fluke but a flat fish that we do not have in the US . It was fun speaking with him. PB decided to get the fish special and I got liver and onions with mushrooms ( I have always loved liver and onions and this was great!)
    As an appetizer, we shared baked mushrooms stuffed with truffles and cherry tomatoes also baked. Of course we had a bottle of white wine -no ruler in this restaurant. We chose the dessert that left the decision to the chef. Besides being a visual work of art, as were the other two courses, it was huge. I don't know if I can remember everything on the platter not plate. There was a dessert glass with all kinds of fruit including fresh currants, three kinds of mousse- chocolate, chocolate and vanilla and strawberry. There was a panel of dark chocolate , whipped cream and ice cream. The whole dinner was presented so beautifully, we took a picture of each course.
    PB and the chef had another discussion about the currants. The chef insisted that we do not have them in the US growing like grapes but PB insisted that we did . It was such a friendly atmosphere and excellent food.
    Now this hotel , Leeuwenbrug, gets the prize for the best breakfast so far. They have one heater that has Dutch Pancakes with the syrup and confectionery sugar. There was pâté ,wonderful breads and different cold cuts and cheeses . The hard boiled eggs were garnished with bean sprouts. They had wonderful breads and coffee cakes.
    Then we set out to Den Hagg. It is just a tram ride from Delft which takes about 15minutes. At the "I “ we got a day pass for the tram and a map. We checked out where all the art museums were, how to get to the beach and the Peace Palace. We got everywhere except for the inside of the Peace Palace. I was somewhat disappointed but not enough to go back the next day. The art was so extensive. The Mauritshuis was being renovated but many of their works were moved to the Gemeentemuseum. We walked around Den Haag central and then went to the Museum of the Hague. They had an extensive Issac Israel exposition. From there we visited the Escher in the Palace. We left and on our way to the Panorama Mesdag , we saw the sculptures in the park. After the panorama, we got on the bus to go to the Gemeentemuseum . I kept saying, "Where is the palace?" which fell on deft ears. The Gemeentemuseum is so extensive. It was like going to MOMA with the Metropolitan pieces being housed there also. Adjacent to the Gemeentemuseum is a photography museum which had a lovely outside cafe. We sat and had a beer and a selection of breads with tapenade, salted butter and a mayo spread. It was great to relax.
    I expressed my concern that we didn't get to the palace but by that time it was too late so we got on the tram and went to the beach which is on the North Sea. It was like going to Coney Island but oh so windy . There is a museum there too but it was just closing. Again, we looked at the outdoor sculptures along the beach.

    There were lots of places on the beach to eat with creative heating pits but we did not want to eat there.
    We got back on the#1 and got off in market square. I wanted rijsttafels again and we found a wonderful Indonisian restaurant( Srikandi). On the way to the tram we saw Chinatown. Our waiter the night before said he ate at Chinatown whenever he went to DenHaag.
    Then is was back to our lovely hotel. People say to allow a few hours for DenHaag but I would have liked two days,

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    Bruges

    When we arrived in Bruges from Delft, I went to buy my train tickets for Belgium. We were given a senior rate E5.60 anywhere. So our trips for two from Bruges to Ghent,Ghent to Antwerp and Antwerp to Brusselsp was E36. What a bargain!!!!

    Of course we walked in a few circles till we found our hotel. Again on the second floor which is the third floor.Settled in and set out amidst the wall to wall tourists . We visited the Church of Our Lady and saw the Michaeangelo. Then of course we had to have a Bruges beer and fries. They even have a frites museum here.

    We saw a sign for a harp concert so we went. It was actually quite good. It was free but of course you gave a donation at the door.

    Then we just walked around the square- lace shops, chocolate and more chocolate and beer. We did buy some chocolate and we did have a beer and some fries in the middle of the market so that we could just sit and people watch. We have just had the greatest weather. The local people say it is unusual. Who says there is not global warming?

    Later we went in search of The Flemish Pot for dinner. Both Rick and people we met in Delft highly recommended it. It did not disappoint. I had the Flemish stew which was like a thich beef burgundy.PB had endives wrapped in bacon and baked with cheese with carrots and potatoes. We had a pate with berries and for dessert a Flemish pudding with chocolate sauce. We had a bottle of red wine. It was great.

    The next day we set aside for bike riding. The ride was great. First, I had to tackle the town cars and bikes. Then it was a lovely ride on a path next to the canal. It was horse country. I never realized how bad horses smell. After awhile we went off the trail into farm country with the cows and sheep. We met an old man (older than us) who had fallen off his bike. After we got him back on the road we saw a sign with an ice cream cone on it. We got so excited - ice cream with all these cows! When we arrived the sign said it did not open on weekdays till 1:30 and it was only 11:30 so we reluctantly kept going. We arrived at a little town called Sint- kinst and had lunch then back on the road. We finally made it to the town of Damme where everyone goes who go straight up the canal path from Bruges. Of course we had to sit at a cafe along the canal and have a beer.

    We decided not to go back the "normal" way but to retrace our steps so we could have ice cream. We had a few minor problems and wound up in people's driveways but eventually we started seeing signs with ice cream cones. Yes, we got there! We got on line with all the school children in their uniforms. Of course I had to have two scoops! It was worth it. We got a little lost finding our way back to Bruges but we met a nice man (three days younger than PB) who put us back on the right path. It was actually a different approach to the city which took us through a lovely park past several windmills. It was time to return our bikes and go to dinner.

    We went to Tom's Diner recommended by Rick. It was good but not my favorite. You could only have the price fixed if you ordered it for two people. Usually, we get one price fixed and one main course. I got meat loaf because it came with a rhubarb sauce and PB got monkfish with baby shrimp and a ravioli stuffed with cannelloni beans and pesto. We sat next to a couple from San Diego.

    The next day we joined the tourists again. We went to the Memling, Picasso and Groeninge Museums.After all that serious stuff, we had to take a beer brake. Then we went to the Beijnhof courtyard and museum . They have these cloisters all over this part of the country . The women who lived here were not nuns but they lived a cloistered life as free women with no vows. Then we went on a canal tour because it was such a beautiful afternoon. Later, we went to the Gruisthuse museum which was a 15th century mansion.

    After that we went to Mass at the Church of Our Lady. We were late because I misunderstood the organist whom I spoke to on the phone in the morning.

    For dinner we went to The Hobbit, of a course a Rick place. It was a real homey place with all you can eat ribs. They were so different and delicious. We got two price fixed meals one came with an aperitif and soup
    and the other with port wine and cheese. We had beers instead of wine because the ribs were really spicy.

    Then we went to a concert at the church. It was disappointing. It was a chant and organ music. The organ was really loud and there were no alleluia chants.

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    Ghent

    Had our last breakfast in Bruges and headed to the bus and then the train station. The train was waiting so we just hopped on and off to Ghent which takes 1/2 hour.

    A few museums are near the train station so backpacks and all we set out on foot to the Fine Arts Museum (SMAK) which was really great. Then we went across the road to the Contemporary Arts Museum (TRAK). It was not that great because they only had one temporary exhibit and they were in the process of putting up another but it was not completed yet. Then we went to the Abbey at St.Pietersplein. I was kind of churched out and tired since I had been walking around with my backpack.

    Then we set out to find the tram to go to our B&B. We bought the Ghent 3 day pass which covered all museums and some attractions and all transportation. We got our money's worth!

    Our bed and breakfast (BB King) was beautiful. It was in a little residential section about 2 or 3 little blocks to all the action. The room and the bathroom were magnificent. Sarah and Dominick were a very welcoming young couple. The breakfasts were wonderful- only the best ingredients. Dominick made his own yogurt and the coffee was from a local shop. There was always fresh fruit and jams made by Sarah's mom. They were wonderful and the location was great!

    We arrived at the B&B at 2 and Dominick told us about the open monuments but each one we arrived at either required a tour or was closed.

    It was now time for dinner. We found a Rick place with outside seating('tStropke). Doubting PB didn't want to stay because no one was eating. I warned him not to doubtRick . Sure enough,people started coming in and ordering. We had a 1/2 carafe of wine. PB had a shrimp salad with large shrimps and I had a Flemish stew which was cooked with beer. It was lighter than the one at the Flemish Pot but also good.

    The next morning after a wonderful breakfast we started out to do an almost museum free day. It was Monday and we knew many places would be closed. It's hard to plan around Mondays when you are going from place to place.

    We started at St. Bavo's Cathedral. He is the patron saint of Ghent. We didn't realize that the day before was the last time you could see the Van Eyke brothers Accent to the Cross before they started the restoration process. We did get to see many of the Peter Paul Rubins that were being exhibited in St. Bavo's while the Fine Arts Museum was being restored.

    We then did a tourist thing and went to the Belfry. It was kind of interesting. It was such a beautiful day so we walked around a lot.

    We had lunch by the canal in ,of course ANOTHER Rick place . It was called Souplounge. They had pumpkin, zucchini , tomato and onion soups and you could add whatever you wanted- pasta, meatballs, cheese etc. You got two rolls and a piece of fruit. With our two drinks, it came to E11 and we got to sit in the sun along the canal.

    Later on the street I bought 8 Ghent noses. They look like a Hersey kisses but they are not chocolate. Four were berry and four were anise. Yum!

    It was such a beautiful day. We walked some more and then found a table by the canal and had a few beers. Everyone was there.

    Later that night believe it or not we had dinner at a place that Rick did not recommend (Vismijin). We had a table right along the canal . I had mussels and PB had el in a green herb sauce. It was lovely.

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    Antwerp

    We went straight from our B&B in Ghent to our B&B (Enich Anders) in Antwerp. This was a hoot. It actually was more like a two room apartment over a sculpture gallery. Ine was there to greet us. We arraigned that she would leave our fixings for breakfast outside the door each night. We had a kitchen/living room, bedroom and bath. It was great. The location was perfect.

    We set out as soon as we got settled. Our first trip was to a museum called MAS ( Museum Aan de Stroom). We had a long walk by the water and we got there kind of late but we saw quite a bit.

    We walked home following a Rick walk through the Red Light District. PB loves Red Light Districts. I think it's funny.

    We had a drink in a funky place Ine told us we had to see. It was a bar with a statue of every saint you could think of and more.

    Several restaurants we wanted to go to were closed. We walked out of the historic center and found Hungry Henrietta recommended by you know who. It was sleak and delicious. PB had sirloin tip and potatoes and I had striped bass with mango sauce and snow peas. We were so surprised that this was a Rick place. It was different from his usual places. We loved it.

    The next day we tried to get much in because we only had one day.

    We went to:

    Our Lady's Church and saw more Rubins

    Then we walked through a shopping area and found this department store I had read about that was a renovated dance hall. It was really fun. I even paid 50 cent euro to go to the bathroom and took pictures.

    Rubenshuis (Rubin's House)

    Just passed this house we found a great place for lunch and had the meal of the day ( soup, wine, ratatouille and sausage ) for E10.50.

    Rockoxhuis ( home of a mayor of Antwerp who was a friend of Rubins and collected art)

    Museum Mayor Vanden Bergh ( another mayor of Antwerp who collected Renaissance and 18th century art) There was a special Bruegel exhibit.

    Maagdenhuis Museum ( art donated to social welfare agencies)

    FoMu ( photography museum)

    MHKA ( contemporary art).

    When we left MHKA, we were down by the water so we had a drink before our trip back.

    We went to this restaurant Ine recommended (Ulcke Van Zurich) . It was wonderful . We had a smoked cod appetizer. I had lamb chops and PB had skewers with four kinds of meat. We both had baked potatoes and salad. The chef was great.

    The next day we said goodbye to Ine and headed to Brussels .

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    Brussels

    Again we walked around in circles until we found our hotel. PB was using my compass on my iPhone which was no help.

    Our hotel (Hotel Mozart) was right in the center of everything . Luckily, we were on the fourth floor in the back so we did not hear the noise in the street. This time we had an elevator. Now close your eyes and picture how you have seen Mozart dressed. That is how our hotel was decorated. It was so funny.

    After settling in we walked around the square. We were hungry so you went into a place in restaurant row where they all try to get you to eat in their establishment, Actually it was Ok.

    We had to go see PeePee Boy. It is amazing to see everyone getting a picture with him. We visited City Hall which told the story of Brussels. They have a display area where they have PeePee Boy dressed in all his costumes. Each day, in the museum, they dress him in a different costume. The day we were there he was a rock star.

    Then we visited an art nouveau bar (Falstaff). We felt we had to order a beer so we could walk around. While we were there others just came in walked around and didn't order anything.

    Then we took to the mall. It has a roof but each end opens to the street so you feel you are outdoors.

    We had had a late lunch so we went to a crepes place(La Mason Des Crepes) for dinner. It was good.

    Maastricht

    Our second day in Brussels, we took a side trip to Maastricht which is actually going from Belgium back to the Netherlands. It cost E7.70 each and took an hour and 45 minutes. We had to make one change in Liege. It was not bad. We set our after breakfast for the first train we could take with senior fare which was 9:02 . Our train was a little late but all connections worked out well.

    We started at the "I" and bought a map and a walking guide. My tourist guide, PB, took us all over the old town. Of course along the way we found two interesting places to eat. One was Tribunal 507 right near the university. I suggested the stop because I had to go to the bathroom but after we got in we decided to try some food. I got a hot chocolate because I was so cold. Then PB got these meatballs (mestreechler belkes) and I got a German bacon with cheese on dark bread (landbrood met schwarzwalders ). Both were great.

    My guide took me further through the old town following the old wall and fortresses. Eventually, we came to a grist mill with a gigantic waterwheel. Right next to it was a bakery (Zo Bart de Bisschopsmolin) with its door open. The smell could not be ignored. We went in and had two unusual pieces of pie. I had gooseberry and PB had plum. They made their own whole wheat flour and the texture was different from any other pie I ever had. The gooseberries were tart and so good. We sat with a couple from Ghent who were doing the same self walk in the opposite direction.

    The tour finally took us to two churches. The first was a very sweet one- Our Lady of the Sea and the other was the basilica of St.Servaas.

    We walked through the market and the mall but then the weather got really nasty so we headed to the train station.

    Our train was waiting for us when we got to the station. It was a real old train and there were no visible numbers on the outside so I thought it was a local train and didn't have first and second class. The inside was decorated like a 50s movie with goldish-orange upholstery. When the conductor came to take our tickets he spoke kind of annoyed in French. I asked him to speak English and he was throwing us out into second class. I apologized and gathered my belongings.

    We got back to Brussels at 7 pm and the sun was out.

    We had dinner in a great place( L’Estaminet du Kelerke). I had to have mussels one last time. We had a big bullet of mussels and a price fix meal. It included a great herring salad with apples and a light cream sauce and for dessert we had a great cheese with a syrup from Liege.

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    Saturday we decided would be museum day. We started by doing a Rick walk up toward the museum. All of a sudden we were in a market that was being set up. When we saw the meats, cheeses and wine, we knew we had to return later.

    We saw the Palace of Justice just from the outside, a beautifully landscaped sculpture garden, and another church of Our Lady. Eventually we wound up at the museums.

    First we did the Maastricht . The approach was kind of crazy. We had to go downstairs then an elevator to the third floor and then down again. It was tremendous. Then we went to the Royal Fine Arts Museum. It was laid out beautifully.

    Now it was time for the market which was the highlight of our day. The weather was great for outdoor eating. We bought a plate of assorted cheeses, ham, sausage, pâté and bread for E10. Then we got a bottle of red wine for E8 and PB got another chunk of a really aged cheese. We were in heaven and we sat at a table with a family. The father sat down with theses delicious looking snails with that Belgium green sauce. I asked him where he got them and he showed me. They were sooooooo good . I used some of my bread to soak up every drop of green sauce.

    On our way out we eyed dessert. One was a little pecan pie and the other was a chocolate brownie with a mocha frosting.

    It was Open Monuments weekend. We had a booklet that showed several places on our way home. First we went to Bellvue. It was mostly Belgium history. PB went around but I was bored. I met a cute old couple who came in from the suburbs for the free monuments. They were so interesting and wanted to hear all about things going on in the US and NY.

    That night PB had an allergic reaction to something he ate so we went to bed early with no dinner.

    The next day was a special day. It was a car free day. All public transportation was free and only bikes, emergency vehicles and public transportation was allowed on the roads.

    We went to St. Michael’s for a high, Gregorian Mass. It was beautiful. Then we went by public transportation to the Horta Museum. We were early so we walked around the neighborhood, went to a market and had lunch.

    The Horta Museum was beautiful. We then went in search of more open monuments. We found St. Giles( city hall), St. Michael’s hall and a theater being renovated.

    For dinner we went to Victors. It was our last great dinner.

    Monday we took the train to the airport and home!

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    Yes, Fodors really helped me map that out and it wasn't a bad trip at all. I would have been disappointed if we did it as a day trip. It was so nice to wake up and be there and be walking distance to our hotel at the end of the day.

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    What a great trip report. I'm tired just reading it. You certainly are energetic. We were in Amsterdam this past spring but on too short of a visit. I can't wait to return and I'll be adding Belgium for the next visit so I'll be referencing your trip report. Thanks!

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