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Monday, 14 April 2014

Mechelen and Oostende - Day 2

  Feeling fresh and ready for another day, I was the first to breakfast. I had a good intake of coffee and enjoyed the walk in the sunshine to fetch the coach. 🌞

Today we are going to Brussels. We have a nice leisurely start, leaving the hotel at 10am. Was anyone surprised when 'Sparkles' wasn't on the coach in time? Not really! And we left him behind! 😊 (I love doing that!)

I've just realised that I've not introduced Sparkles! The lad who had left his passport behind and chased the coach to Folkestone, Ben, thinks he looks like the hot guy from Twilight! So, mates being mates, his mates have nicknamed him, much to his disgust, Sparkles, because Vampires sparkle in the sunlight!

Our first visit was to Duval Chocolate Factory which, from the outside, just looked like another house in a row of terraced houses. I had to double park to drop the group off and then go away to park, so I didn't get to go in. The only good thing was they were only having a tour and so I wasn't missing out on making my own chocolate! 🍫 Bless him though, Doug thought of me and brought me some chocolate 😋

Our next visit was a brewery which specialises in making sour beers and was on the other side of the city, definitely not at the posh end! 😧 I struggled to get the coach through and we didn't fit up the road to the brewery, although they had put cones out for the coach to park! There was nowhere to pull over to let the group off safely so I did what everyone else seemed to be doing and just stopped, blocking the road, telling everyone "2 minutes" and waved, when they honked their horns!🙋 Very unprofessional, I know!

From here we went into the centre of Brussels for free time. I planned my route to use the major looking roads on the map but OMG! There must have been an easier way! Nevertheless, the group were dropped off and went to explore with their maps of good pubs in their hands and the coach was parked, still straight! 😄

I went for a little walk. I have only been into Brussels once before and that was about 6 years ago, so I was behaving like a tourist! 📷

All of these photos were taken in the Grand Place before heading off in search of the 'Jeanneke Pis'. Everyone has seen statues of the peeing boy. Well apparently, the original 'peeing boy', the Mannekene Pis is in Brussels and it came about when, hundreds of years ago, the king visited Brussels and a little boy needed to wee, so he did, in front of the king! The 'Jeanneke Pis' is the little girl version!

By now I had met up with the lads. We had a snack in the friterie, chips! Then headed for the Delerium Village! Delerium is a very popular, large Belgian brewery and we went to the Delerium Tap House where they have 14 real ales on tap and 2500 in bottles! Yes, 2500!!

Each floor had a different style bar, notice the 500 tequilas on the menu!

I'd like to come to Brussels when I'm not working. I've been introduced to all these wicked bars and beers and I think it would be a lot of fun with a group of friends. It's still a pig of a place to drive round though!

At 10pm we were due to be leaving. Sparkles and his mates had been told they'd be left behind if they were late! They were cutting it fine but they weren't last. We were missing one of the older couples who had never been late and so we were hoping they were just lost and nothing more serious. They weren't answering their phone and there was no sign of them. At 1015, a lady on a push bike came over to the coach and said, "are you waiting for Pam and Ken? They are lost! I told them I'd let you know they are on their way and now I'm going back to get them!" I'm not sure you'd come across such a helpful random person in London! So after a few more minutes we were relieved to see them come round the corner and we would soon be on our way. Why is it though, when people come back late, instead of getting on the coach and rushing to their seats so we can go, they have to stand at the door and tell you a really long winded story of why they are late! "Yeah alright! Get on!"

The journey back to Mechelen was very quiet. Most were having a quick kip so they were ready to go to the pub when we got back! I parked the coach and joined them for a drink. Doug was drunk! Paul had unknowingly bought an 11% beer for Doug which definitely had an effect! 

After a couple of beers I headed back to the hotel and had another really good nights sleep.