Bikes in Amsterdam and Mussels in Brussels

At the beginning of September, I went on my first European travels since arriving in London.  While it was a work trip to Amsterdam and Brussels and while I didn’t tack on personal time, it was still a great introduction to the small getaways that are now so accessible to me.

Amsterdam is a bit of a jaunt on the train from London, a total of about 5 hours and connecting through Brussels.  I’d often heard it compared with Venice in terms of the vast network of canals and I only hope to compare the two myself once I finally make it the latter. 🙂   It’s an incredibly beautiful city and very friendly to pedestrians in that I’ve never seen less car traffic in a big city in my life.  Everyone in Amsterdam rides bicycles and the racks and racks of them outside of the central station were impressive indeed.  It was however, one of the more disappointing meals I’ve had – an unfortunate recommendation from a trusted guidebook and proof that guidebooks are not the be all and end all to traveling well.  While the food was good, the service was absolutely appalling.  They got my order wrong and I had to ask three times to have a beer served. I did have a lovely satisfying dessert by sampling the mini stroopwafels pictured below from a local shop –  cookie sandwiches with a gooey caramel center.  Yum.

Upon arriving in rainy Brussels, I had to partake of course in mussels and framboise, the city’s specialities. 🙂  A friend told me that the central plaza doesn’t have much to see and he was right, but it was a lovely night and great for mussels in a warm and cozy brasserie.  On the second night in Brussels, we went to a restaurant in a trendy bar district recommended by a colleague.  The restaurant was formerly an ironmongery and so charming on the inside.  The service left much to be desired, and they were out (gasp!) of mussels, but the food was very good.

I was also able to take home some lovely Neuhaus chocolates thanks to a kind taxi driver who stopped for us on the way to the train station. 🙂  After one last Belgian beer on the train back to London, I was back home after an exhausting four days. 🙂

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© Jennifer Konopasek and GoodTravelerKarma, 2011.

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