We made the right decision, cycling from Middelburg to Ghent on Saturday. It rained all day on Sunday, and, at times, the wind was quite strong. Rather than hide from the elements, we took a train into Brussels to spend the day exploring.
From the train station, we wandered into the Cathedral just as the 9:30 am service was ending, so we enjoyed a bit of organ music. Amazing the ornateness and statues that decorate the interior. Continuing to the Grote Markt (Grand-Place) where the City Hall, numerous old Guild Halls, and the Brussels City Museum (Maison du Roi) are located. With City Hall tours fully booked, we opted to explore the City Museum. In addition to artifacts and models of the city dating back to before 13th century, it now houses the original statue of Manneken-Pis, considered a masterpiece of Baroque statuary art.
With the rain getting heavier and the winds stronger, we took refuge for lunch in a quiet cafe and hoped for the weather to improve. For a short period of time after we ventured back out, no rain and we contemplated a leisurely walk in a northern neighborhood. The weatherman did not cooperate, so instead we ended up at the Royal Museum of Fine Arts, learning about Old Belgian Masters. Highlights were artwork by Pieter Bruegel the Elder and Rubens.
Back in 1958, I had visited the Brussels World’s Fair with my parents. Mostly I remembered the Atomium, now considered the symbol of Brussels. We took the Metro to the north and followed crowds toward the Atomium, only to discover most were headed to a movie theatre nearby. The views from the top level of the Atomium were minimal as the rain had returned, but we enjoyed the construction history and the many artifacts, wandering from sphere to sphere.
Back by Metro into the heart of Brussels, we happened on Le Bistro, a neighborhood restaurant which we found out was among the top 10 rated in Yelp. We sat next to a young man from South Carolina who had just arrived in Belgium mostly on business and enjoyed the conversation as well as the food.
Back on the train to Ghent: 19,855 steps, 8.78 miles walking for the 12-hour day!
This morning our goal was to do laundry and take care of some telephone and bicycle needs. The closeby Wasbar (combination coffee shop and laundry location) proved to be quite popular and our 3 loads of laundry took about 4 hours. Alas, we can start the tandem tour with plenty of clean clothes.
The PennyWise Cycle Tour group arrived around noon today from Brussels and have been busy assembling their tandems. We will meet later this afternoon for orientation, then a group dinner. The next adventure is about to begin!