The blow-up mattress had been really comfortable to sleep on and when we woke up the kids and Jelger had already left for school and work. We ate breakfast at their house (and realised that Belgians eat A LOT of chocolate, even for breakfast), mine consisting of cereal with banana and a bit of water, which actually didn’t taste half bad. We walked to the bus stop, the morning once again cold, but thankfully dry, and took the bus one stop too far - even though the bus driver had specifically said ”and for the English ladies this is...”, we were simply too daft to realize. But we made it to the train on time, no harm done, and ended up across from a very sweet and talkative Flemish man, whom we talked with until we reached Brussels.
Although not quite as obviously charming as Bruges, Brussels was quite beautiful and seemed like a very ”lived-in” city. We walked through the city to the beautiful main square where the town hall was located.
We continued to the infamous Manneken Pis statue (that wasn’t wearing any clothes today) on the way spotting a Tin Tin mural and visiting a cartoon shop.
We continued to the street called ”the stomach of Brussels” and spotted the female version of the Manneken Pis: Jeanneke Pis.
Soon we reached the oldest shopping centre in Europe (I think?), Royal Gallery of Saint Herbert, where we strolled through, window shopping, especially admirering the chocolate shops.
By now the time was around 12, and though the sky was blue, the air was cold, so we started toward vegan restaurant Moon food. Brussels is not the place to visit for vegan experiences and I was very disappointed in the few choices I had. Moon food was the only restaurant in the city that was vegan, and although the food was alright, it was certainly nothing to write home about (although that is technically what I’m doing, isn’t it?).
After lunch we went to Saint Michael’s Cathedral, walking around it and admirering its beautiful windows.
The reason for the visit was admittedly that we had discovered that a vegan food truck: Loving Hut’s food truck, parked just in front of the cathedral every Monday - and what luck that we were there on a Monday, because they sold vegan waffles. You can’t go to Belgium without eating fries and waffles.
They were really good and so we didn’t mind sitting outside in the cold too much, although a chilling wind had picked up. We walked to the nearby Parc de Bruxelles, where the Palais de Bruxelles was located as well.
It was a beautiful area, but once again we decided that sitting inside seemed nicer - I’m really starting to understand why people in warm countries keep skinny so much easier, you don’t constantly feel the need to drink hot drinks and eat comfort foods when it’s 30 degrees Celsius outside.
So we walked to the vegan cafe TICH, where we got coffee and cake. We actually ended up staying and talking for nearly two hours, but I think it’s needed as well when you travel as much as we’ve done for the past 25 days.
When we finally decided to leave it was almost 4 o’clock and so we went to the cartoon museum, only finding it fitting now that we were in Belgium. The museum actually turned out a lot more interesting than I’d thought and we ended up having to rush through the last of the exhibition 5 minutes before closing time at 6 pm, the museum having been surprisingly large.
Now having learned everything there is to know about cartoons we decided to go on a bit of a cartoon mural scavenger hunt around the city following a vague map over their locations.
We didn’t end up finding all of the ones we were looking for, but what we did end up finding was something much cooler: these amazing murals supporting equal rights and fighting sexism, homophobia and the like.
Sidenote: in general we’ve actually seen so much pride support throughout the cities we’ve visited in September: rainbow flags, rainbow stickers, rainbow umbrellas, rainbow pedestrian crossings and even more. It’s been awesome to see how so many cities are all so open minded and supportive of such causes. We’ve at least found it quite amazing.
Anyway, after having hunted down murals for a while our ”walking back and forth to find somewhere to eat” charade began. First we wanted to find an asian restaurant with vegan options called Gatsu Gatsu, which lead us through a weird mall filled to the brim with cheap and fake items.
We gave up after a while and could only find other restaurants that took cash only. Finally we walked back to where we had come from and ate at a Thai restaurant that did have three vegan options (all tofu with rice: luckily I like tofu). The server was really funny and we ate happily before walking back to the train station taking the train to Ghent. From Ghent train station we quickly found the right bus and rode it back to Merelbeke from where we only had to walk about 20 minutes to Victoria and Jelger’s house. When we arrived Victoria (Zuzanna’s aunt) had come back from a reunion in Poland, and we all ended up sitting and talking late into the night. It was a lovely evening and they were both incredibly sweet, but at some point I was close to falling asleep in my seat, so we decided to go to bed. After my shower though I had lost some of my sleepiness, so I couldn’t help but continue reading Anne Frank’s diary, and we ended up going to bed much too late. Luckily we can decide when to wake up as well, so we let ourselves sleep in until 8.30 the next morning.
Read on: Interrail Diaries day 27: Ghent
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