Day 1: Let’s go get lost…
Here are just a few things I discovered on my first day in Brussels:
1. Ibis Hotels are like a much classier version of Travelodge. They do, however, lack the very British tradition of a ‘tea/coffee tray.’
2. Try as you might, it will be nigh impossible to find hair conditioner of any kind in a Belgian supermarket. The dubious ‘2 in 1’ variety exists but judging by the straw-like condition of my hair throughout the holiday, this was merely a marketing ploy.
3. Having a travel partner is both a blessing and a curse. Do not, under any circumstances, believe someone when they claim to have ‘pretty much memorised’ a street map off by heart. It’s probably a lie.
I didn’t write very much about Day 1 in my diary, it seems. This is probably because (a) I stupidly forgot to bring a pen and so didn’t have access to any writing materials until Day 2, and (b) because by the end of this day, penning my thoughts wasn’t a top priority.
About two minutes after dumping our bags in our swanky little Ibis room I managed to drag A (reluctantly, I might add) outside so we could get to work on this whole exploring business. After a short debate about where we should go, we decided to head for the Grand Place. It seemed to be a relatively short distance from the hotel and it was one of the main ‘attractions’ the guide book harped on about.
A’s unusually large coat pocket became the designated ‘guide book holder’ for the holiday (pockets that can actually CONTAIN things are a pretty alien concept to me as I’m not much of a trouser wearer). Anyway, as I was about to reach for the guide book to consult the map, A proudly declared that he had already ‘practically memorised it’ so there was no need to bring it out now. Naturally I felt quite cynical about such a grandiose claim but in the spirit of holiday spontaneity I decided to go with it.
An hour and a half later and we had walked off the map into what can only be described as uncharted tourist territory. We finally found out where on earth we were from a tram station map. Feeling more than a little disgruntled, we trudged back to the hotel to re-gather the troops before attempting to conquer the city again.
It’s safe to say that after this little episode, I spent the rest of the holiday clutching onto the guide book for dear life.
N.B We did get to Grand Place eventually, but by that time it was below zero and our holiday spirit had dwindled significantly…