Day #13 - Chocolate City!

Once on our way again today we discovered that we had actually slept just over the border of The Netherlands last night. We must have been quite a sight to see for the other sleepers there. We were in a huge road side car park/truck stop, Matt in the back with the boys, Kerry and Storm in the front. But, once we covered the windscreens with our towels to stop the headlights waking us, we all slept quite well...warm too!

Our time in The Netherlands was short lived though...we came, we saw (a very little), and we kept on driving. Next stop...Bruxelles (Brussells) in Belgium. Yet another country to check off our growing list of places visited. We parked the car just outside the Cathedralis SS Michaelis et Gudulae Bruxellensis (Cathedral of St Michael). We decided not to go in yet but to head into the city centre and visit the cathedral before we left.

For those ealy risers like us...BEWARE!!!...Brussells should be nicknamed the 'sleepy city'. Nothing (asside from the Information Centre) was open before 10am, so we wandered around for almost an hour before we could go inside....especially difficult when even the public toilets are locked until then....arghhh.

The city centre was well worth the stop. A huge quadrangle of gothic buildings takes the spotlight here. Cafes, chocolate shops and loads of souvenir shops line the streets as you take in the atmosphere....and what does a visit to Belgium demand but....CHOCOLATE!!!....loads of it. Everywhere you look are chocolate shops filled with the most amazing varieties you could ever imagine. We even found one with little statues of The Mannekin Pis...to be explained later.

We stopped in several shops for the 'free' samples they offered and even bough a small bag of truffels....mmm. Eight truffels cost us a hefty €5 (worth it for the experience though). Finally we stopped to enjoy coffee, hot chocolate and some Belguim pancakes absolutely covered in strawberries, chocolate sauce and cream. These do not come with a light price tag though. Two coffees, two hot chocolates and two serves of pancakes (we shared) set us back a whopping €26.

Brussells was well worth the stop and is a truly beautiful piece of history. Just don't expect the chocolate to come without strings...expensive ones! On the way back to the car we stopped back at the Cathedral of St Michaels for a look inside. Another amazing cathedral...very similar to many of the other European cathedrals we have found on our journey.

Once back in the car we went on a driving mission around the small streets of Brussells in search for The Mannekin Pis, which we were unable to find on foot. This statue is of a little boy doing what the name suggests. He is a bit of a Belgium legend from many years ago. Needless to say, we found him. He was dressed in clothes for the day. Apparently he is so important to Brussells that he is clad in fancy clothing whenever an important official comes to town...must be someone around at the moment.

Finally, we left and headed towards Calais. We found a camping ground to set up the tent for two nights, then took Storm off to get the vaccinations she needs before heading back onto English soil. The books are right about Calais...nothing to see here. A good time to kick back and relax. We enjoyed some wurst (sausages) for dinner before settling down to watch movies on the computer for the night...ahhhh, rest!

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