Lannae's Food and Travel

I hope you like my food and travel blog.

March 21, 2008

The Iconic Brussels View

We got into Brussels on a Friday morning at 6:30 a.m. and a bit blurry eyed. We get through border patrol, get our visitor visa stamps in our passports, pick up our luggage and went looking for the express train to Central Station, Brussels. All of the written directions I had printed out were in French. 2 decades ago in my Boston high school French class, my German origin teacher said that Brussels is a fantastic city that is based in the French language and it is very easy to get around Brussels knowing French. I was under the impression that Brussels was a French speaking city. To my surprise, all of the train and street signs were in Flemish. None of my directions (in French) matched up with any train directions (in Flemish), so we were definitely directionally challenged at this point. We had two choices at the airport train station, platform 1 or platform 2, but which one? Did we choose wisely? Yes, we got on the express train to Central Station, Brussels on platform 2.

We got off at Central Station, still a blurry eyed and exhausted after flying overnight and the time change. I pull out the French written instructions to the hotel we were staying at. We look up and there were the big Flemish street signs. None of the Flemish street names resemble any of the French street names (ex. Fourche and Greepstraat, or Herbe and Grasmarktstraat). Before we left, Matt did take time to look at the Google Earth satellite map of the few blocks were we needed to go. He lead us, totally by feel through the cobblestone streets with rolling luggage to a tiny street that looks like an alley way, and TA DA, our hotel and it was about 8 a.m.

Hotel Arlequin Breakfast

We opted for this hotel after looking at various travel guides like Let's Go, Lonely Planet and Let's Go recommended this great hotel so highly, and all the Tripadvisor posts raved about this place, so booked we did. It was only about 63 euros per night. There were no cons to this hotel for us. The pros about the hotel are the spacious and comfortable lobby, full bar in the lobby, the well versed in mulitple languages hotel employees, short strolls to Grand Place and Central Station, WiFi, and an internet ready computer for guests (5 euros per use). The rooms were amazing as well. I felt like the room was quite roomy for this ancient city, the linens were crisp and clean, the marble bathrooms have luxurious showers, and the view from our 6th floor room was breath-taking. The breakfast is the best breakfast I have ever seen anywhere. There were wonderfully made scrambled eggs, boiled eggs, croissants, baguettes, fresh fruits, meats, cheeses, yogurt, cereal, milk, juice, tea, coffee, hot chocolate, tomato cucumber salad, and all the real butter and jams you want. I know I am leaving something out. This was the best value for our buck for sure for location, comfort, luxury and breakfast.



At 3/22/08, 11:12 AM, Blogger Eric and Katie said...

That's really funny...our next planned trip is Belgium. Thanks for doing the advance work for us! This hotel looks perfect. We'll be looking forward to the rest of your posts!

At 3/22/08, 1:11 PM, Anonymous RONW said...

so this is what "food and travel" is about. Splendid.

At 3/23/08, 4:11 AM, Blogger katiez said...

Nothibg like finding out all your prep work is for naught - at a jet-lagged 8 in the morning.
Praise Google Earth...
I would have expected the signs to be in both languages, now that I think about it... Like it is in most dual language places!

At 3/23/08, 9:06 PM, Blogger Lannae said...

Ooo! Wow! Where are you going E and K?! What do you plan to do in Belgium? Definitely be up on Flemish in the north 1/2 of Belgium. The Hotel Arlequin was really great for us, and we couldn't have asked for more. Do you think you are going to stay there?

Hi RonW - I think it is. I used to do more travel for work to really interesting small towns before I started blogging, and would have been fun to blog about, but these days my travel has been closer to home.

Hi KatieZ, the signage was a bit hard for me. The blue street name signs on the corner of buildings were both Flemish and French, but were hard for me to see because the print was relatively small or there coincidentally happened to be under construction, so the street signs where hard to see. The big white directional signs seem to be mostly Flemish, and most of the train and subway signs were Flemish too. The other thing about the dual language signs is that my eye would catch the long Flemish words instead of the short French words, and couldn't "compute" the word quick enough in my brain as we rolled on by. Next time, I will try to learn some Flemish be visiting beautiful Brussels again, in hopes of being respectful to the language history of this area.


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