During half term we visited four other countries and drove through a fifth and almost went to a sixth. This was part of our journey to Germany which had been promised to our teen ahead of his German GCSE. I felt it was a good way of helping him with the subject as well as cementing his love of all things Germany. I broke this journey up as we drove down as far as (and including) Austria.
After staying the night in Dover we headed for Brussels, which is just a 2 hour drive from Calais. Once we arrived we found somewhere to park (and found out it was free, as it was written in both French and German – so our teen translated for us). It made me so proud that he did not shy away from trying to understand the language and how much he knew. I was always useless at foreign languages at school – hence not even understanding what it said in French. Between us we discovered that you cannot park by kerbs with yellow markings – and that there isn’t just a fine but your car will actually just be towed away. We didn’t need one because it was Sunday but I believe you also need to get a blue clock for your car window too (available from newsagents). It may have been an idea to find out all this before we set off but we were just winging it.
We checked into the Albert Hotel which was a basic place, with the beds all in a row, a massive bathroom with two sinks and all towels/toiletries etc provided. The staff were very friendly, it was easy to find and check in. There was a slight damp, musty smell in the bathroom but it was ideal for a quick stop over in a fantastic location (which allowed us to leave the car where we found a parking space and explore the city on foot).
In Brussels we stumbled upon beautiful gardens, quirky attractions, and fantastic street art.
There also happened to be a Jazz festival on and music and merriment seemed to be all around. We headed for the famous Manneken Pis (a bronze statue of a man weeing!) and ate waffles and chocolate (after all what better way to learn about what Brussels is famous for).
We also have a terrible tradition where we see what different foods the McDonalds do in each country and tried the cheese on chips. It was a sauce which was in my opinion a cross between melted cheese and curry sauce. We also bought some things from a supermarket and had no trouble finding anything we needed. It was then just over a 2 hour drive (well would have been if we hadn’t have left in rush hour which was earlier than at home) from our next destination of Phantasialand.