After traveling for yet another 15 hours between country stops, we finally made it to Brussels. Now our blog only goes back about 18 months, but we have been to Brussels before and it included a detainment at the border control. It was nothing serious other than a little passport tampering done by yours truly. Who would’ve thought that drawing the lines back in for Euro stamps would be against federal law? Luckily, the immigration only detained us for 90 minutes, after going over all of our travel history. They said to never return to Europe with that old passport, and to be careful smoking weed in Amsterdam. Good advice, now let us go so we can catch our flight to Barcelona. And that wraps up our first trip to Brussels.

The main square in Brussels

Anyway, after traveling all night from South Africa, and then connecting in Madrid, again, we made it to Brussels. We only had about 7 hours there before our train departed, so we had to get a move on, and we did. Now, I never know how big these cities might be, or how much we could do there, so I thought 7 hours would be enough. It was about 3 hours too long, as there really is not that much to do in Brussels. We saw the main attractions, that being the back alley Red Light District (wrong turn) and the infamous square where all the trendy restaurants and bars are, stopped at a traditional Belgian waffle shop, and then saw the Mannekin Pis. Brussels actually is a very nice city, and reminded me of a cross between Paris with it’s long straight roads through the city, and a little of Prague with it’s squares and old buildings. None the less, I like the other two more, but I’m glad we saw it. Honestly my fondest memory while being there was getting a sub sandwich, freshly made, for 3 euro’s. It was so good I bought a second one for the train ride to Luxembourg, which was then devoured after being on the train for 10 minutes.

The infamous Mannekin Pis...how you doing buddy?

That being said, we headed back to the train station and hopped our train to Luxembourg. Now most of my friends said “what the hell is in Luxembourg and why are you going there?” Well, I always have a pretty simple answer for those. One, I’m not sure, but I’m sure something is there, and I’m going there because I’ve never been there! Now, after getting on the train, I started to overhear some conversations and learned that quite a few people that work in Brussels actually live in Luxembourg. I’m not sure of all the reasons, but I’m sure taxes play some part, and even though Luxembourg, the city, is the capital, it feels more like a village compared to a big city like Brussels. It’s about a 2.5 hour train ride, and the train station is pretty small and leaves you on the edge of the “city.” I had mapped out before we got there our route up to the hotel, yet not knowing that it would be primarily uphill the whole way, damnit. Nevertheless, we made it up to the hotel, which actually was in a killer location. Hotel Simoncini was our home for the night, and we were right off the main square in the middle of town.

Inside the Casemates...all carved out by hand

Now, we always like to knock out the big tourist things immediately, so we dropped our bags, took a shower since we had traveled through 4 countries in the last 24 hours, and headed out to dinner. We found some little french restaurant (main language in Luxembourg) and sat on a square where an orchestra was playing for the locals. It was pretty cool, and the food wasn’t bad at all either. Now, most would’ve considered it touristy, but Luxembourg isn’t the most frequented stop by most travelers in Europe, so we didn’t really feel that it was touristy. We felt that we were with the locals, which was good. We had been on the go for 24 hours, so we decided to head back to the hotel after dinner and crash hard for the night, and then attack the city the next day before we grabbed our train to Zurich. So we got up, and bam, it’s pouring. Really the first day of our whole trip where rain was going to affect our schedule. But did it? No. It was on and off all day, so we had to make the best of it. We knew that we wanted to see the old caves in the city, or otherwise known as the Casemates, which were used in the wars. You’d never think it, but the city of Luxembourg had quite an elaborate system, and quite a bit of leverage if someone tried to invade them. Hence, nothing was ever overtaken, and no buildings were ever destroyed. It was pretty cool to see the system of caves and tunnels that they used to prepare for battle, and to see that they haven’t changed since they were created years ago.

Nice weapon to use from a cave I'd say

After seeing those, which really was the highlight of the whole city unless you are addicted to seeing high end retail, which Luxembourg has plenty of, we had to head over to a shop to get our customary country magnet. One day I hope to have a magnet from every country in the world and then do something with them, but for now we just needed one. We stepped into a store, and they had a few, but they were all behind glass. So we couldn’t check them out, strange. Then Annemarie likes to collect postcards, and she started checking them out, and the lady in the shop spat out some French, which I translated into “read the sign, don’t touch that.” So I looked over and there actually was a sign “don’t touch the postcards.” You gotta be kidding me, how are we supposed to check them out and browse through them if we can’t touch them?? So she got the appropriate scowl from Annemarie, and walked right out. These people obviously didn’t want to make any money. We walked down the street, found another shop, better magnets, and cheaper, picked up our goods and got out of dodge. Luxembourg was all that we imagined….not much, but we saw the highlights and had a good meal. Will I be back? Probably not unless necessary. Next post will be about our fun times in Zurich and Vaduz, which I’ll have up tomorrow. Playing some catch up.

You can see the Casemates built into the rock

Au revoir!