Brussels – 3rd September

Brussels – 3rd September

I woke up sweaty, thirsty and hungover on Saturday 3rd September in Brussels. The opening night of the Belgian Beer Festival, last night, had been great and Captain Caveman spending time with his brother was fantastic. We had to check out at 11am so we had a cheese and salami sandwich to sort us out. We left the Citadines Sainte Catherine aparthotel, which I’d definitely recommend, and headed through town towards the tram. We got the one to Uccle as we were invited to spend the rest of the weekend with Simon & Anna – we were both really looking forward to that a lot. We had not seen Captain Caveman’s two nephews for far too long and we had not met the third nephew at all, thanks to the pandemic. One of the things we really appreciate when we visit family and friends is to do ‘normal’ family things. I really enjoyed sitting at the big dining table to eat a delicious pasta lunch, I even had to give Captain Caveman a nudge to leave some for everyone else – he was also loving it. The youngest nephew is super cute and has a lot of similarities to Captain Caveman when it comes to meal times. In the afternoon we offered to go to the supermarket with Simon, while Anna looked after the kids. It was an experience, as Simon had chosen the self-scan method. We piled the trolley full and then the man in the queue in front of us had trouble letting us through because we had more than 10 items. It was good fun when Captain Caveman went to get our purchases of wine and some meat to contribute to tonight’s BBQ.

We managed a short walk through the nearby woods but it did start to rain a little by the time we were halfway round. The evening with the family was great and we got on the Prosecco surprisingly easily, considering last night’s shenanigans. I was impressed when one of the children managed to complete a house of cards but he was gutted when the little one wafted past, causing it to fall. By the time bed time came round I was tired and was looking forward to some sleep. I felt bad that we had kicked the youngest out of his room, he would sleep with Simon and Anna. The two eldest are so grown up now and when they argue they do it in French. They were both very polite and well behaved though, no arguments when it was time to go to bed.

Photo credit Captain Caveman

Brussels – 2nd September

Brussels – 2nd September

Friday 2nd September was an important day! Not only was it Vietnamese Independence Day but it was also the start of the Belgian beer festival in Brussels. 
We were awake before 7am and went to breakfast at Charli Boulangerie, where the baker is on show while you eat. I had the best pain au chocolat with a green tea, Captain Caveman had a double espresso and a plain croissant. The cost was a reasonable €10 and the place was quite busy. It was mesmerising to watch the baker, who was working very hard.

We were back at the hotel before 9am and then went to the farm shop close by to get something for the kitchen. We bought ham, goat cheese and a baguette, then couldn’t resist a second breakfast.
For lunch we met Simon and Anna, Captain Caveman’s brother and his wife. It had been a long time since we had seen them and it was great to catch up again. The restaurant they chose was called In’t Spinnekopke, which means The Spider’s Web in Flemish. I loved it there, the food was excellent and the waiter was impressive. Simon and I had the beef stew, Captain Caveman had sausage and Anna had fish. The meat eaters amongst us had our meal paired nicely with a Belgian dark beer which was surprisingly nice, so much so that we managed a second one.
It was still a working day so Anna and Simon had to get back but Captain Caveman and I took the afternoon to do a bit of shopping. We went to the Base phone shop and bought a SIM card which we would be able to use while in Europe, the man in the shop was very helpful and it cost €15, including a package for up to 30 days. We finished our shopping with a beer in the Delerium pub while we waited for Simon to finish work. Of course Captain Caveman had to take a photo of me next to the Jeanneke Pis, for good sightseeing measure!

Captain Caveman’s brother works in the  brewing industry so he is involved in the Brussels beer festival. He had very kindly invited Captain Caveman and I to join him at the annual event. Unfortunately, Anna wasn’t able to join on account of her having the 3 children to look after. Captain Caveman went over to the Grand Place in Brussels to wait next to the Town Hall. Here we saw various important people coming out of the building and going in to the beer festival as the first guests. This included the Belgian Prime Minister who seemed very nice.

Videos of the VIPs coming from the building in to the Belgian Beer Festival

It will come as no surprise that we had several beers during the evening at the beer festival and I did my best to keep a note of them all – I’m sure some slipped through, though. My first one was a Kriek Boon as I do love a cherry beer and I was a little thirsty. We made our way round all of the beer stands enjoying our free beer samples and comparing notes. We liked the Van Den Bosch, Aparta and Martens – the cardamon flavoured beer was one of our favourites of the night and I thought it would be great with a curry. The Paranoia at Delirium had a great name but it wasn’t in my best beers. Floris was good, as usual and I was pleased to see that Huyghe had a Gluten Free beer which I had to try. If it hadn’t said that the Mongozo premium pilsner, served in a coconut shell, was gluten free I wouldn’t have guessed. It was light and easy to drink but I found the shell with bracelet style stand a bit tricky to hold and inadvertently put the ‘bracelet’ on then forgot to return it with the shell. Another top beer was the Paix Dieu at the Caulier bar, this also got extra points for the gorgeous glass. Stuut beer did cans that matched my dress but there was none available to try, the Super 8 had nibbles and a lovely glass too. By the time we were sampling Haacht, Kasteel, then De Dool my note taking was slightly fuzzy – not unlike my photos. If I recall correctly, we finished on Leopold  7 and thought it would be a great idea to get some food.

We’d met a few people along the way and one guy came with us to L’Express Kebab where we had Beirut or Heineken bottled lager. I’m no beer snob but it definitely wasn’t my favourite drink of the night! The kebab was a winner though, and definitely what I needed to help sober me up a bit before the walk back to the hotel.
Captain Caveman’s jetlag had certainly caught up with him as he was fast asleep on the bed, the wrong way round, by the time I had got undressed.

Dalyan to Belgium – 1st September

Dalyan to Belgium – 1st September

Our first European holiday together since before the pandemic started in the early hours of Thursday 1st September. Captain Caveman had fallen asleep on the sofa but I woke him up in time for our taxi to the airport. Fikri was on time and we were off to Dalaman at 1.45am, it was going to be a long day. When we arrived at Dalaman airport we were early and the check-in desk didn’t open until 2 hours before the flight instead of the 3 hours we were expecting. It took a lot of willpower not to fall asleep, stood up in the queue.
We checked in and were due to fly at 5.35am to Dusseldorf, the airport has no free drinking water which is a bit poor and we had to buy bottled water.

We both managed a little sleep on the plane but it was only for a couple of hours at the most.
We landed at 8.15am in Dusseldorf and were asked the purpose for our visit as we went through passport control. Captain Caveman was asked how long he planned on staying. I was surprised that Dusseldorf airport didn’t seem that clean to say we were in Germany. We got a train from the airport, €3 each, to Dusseldorf Central station then walked for about 10 minutes to the bus station. We found a cafe which seemed to have some dodgy dealing rough characters outside. We bought a big bottle of water, a double espresso (for Captain Caveman) and a sandwich each for €7.50. We weren’t staying in Germany, we had a Flixbus booked to Brussels in Belgium. We left around 1pm, the bus was great; comfy seats, free WiFi and only 3 hours.

When we got off in Brussels we found that we needed coins to get on the tram or metro, we didn’t have any so we walked. We were peckish so we went to a place called Wolf in the town centre. We shared dim sum and got ourselves a beer. The dim sum were €5.50 for 3 so it wasn’t super cheap but they were very nice and we had 6 between us. We also got a pulled pork Bao, €7.50 each and one more beer each. I thought the Wolf logo on the glasses looked more like a thirsty dog. We walked to our hotel around 4pm and checked in to a nice room with a kitchenette. The Citadines Sainte Catherine aparthotel was great and would be a good location for what we had planned in Brussels.
We decided to have a little lay down but fell asleep and missed dinner – we were very tired.