THURSDAY: Train day. By sunup, we are making our way to the St. Pancras International station for a brisk, two-hour, one-minute rail ride to Brussels. A fine time to be in this town: actor Hugh Laurie and his traveling band have just performed at Cirque Royal on his birthday, complete with a cake. Our own travelers go our separate ways, some doing a beer-tasting at Moeder Lambic and a chocolate-tasting at the Wittamer Café. (Quite a combo.)
NOW YOU KNOW:
Eurostar’s trains can travel as fast as 186 miles per hour on the high-speed lines.
Me, I contentedly kick back at the Hotel Amigo: quaint, ancient, enchanting from bottom to top — the top being the Royal Suite Armand Blaton that our hosts, Silvia Brighenti and Alessia Zanda, let me explore, all 2,000 square feet of it. I believe it goes for something like 5,000 euros a night, and mon ami, I’d be blissfully happy to sleep here 365 days a year (with chocolate and beer).
Dinner is served at François, a civic institution since 1922. I start with the moules parquées (raw mussels). Our companion, Olivier Daloze of the Wallonie-Bruxelles Belgium Tourist Office, has chosen our restaurant and cuisine wisely. Brussels is breathtaking. A leisurely walk through Grand Place’s majestic plaza — but first, a quick pop into a Belgian waffle shop for dessert — before I propose we stay for days and days, oui? Alas, no. Onward we must go.