We took the direct overnight flight from DFW, which had us arriving in London around 1pm on Saturday. There was no way I could travel to Europe without seeing my favorite Germans, so we arranged for Kim and Fabian to meet us halfway. After landing at Heathrow, we immediately got on a train to Brussels. I've used Europe's rail service before, and this was just another reminder of how awesome this travel option is. Boarding is so simple, the fares are affordable, the accommodations are nice, and the food is excellent.
We arrived in Brussels that evening and checked in to Hotel Pullman Brussels Centre Midi. It's a beautiful, modern hotel in a good location right by the train station. We relaxed for a little bit and then decided we wanted to watch some college football. We googled and found a bar that looked to be a great place to watch American sports. We got a cab to take us to Fatboys Sports Bar. When we arrived, there were a couple European soccer matches and American football games being shown. We kinda ducked into a corner and starting looking around to see where we would want to sit. As we surveyed the bar, we heard the guy next to us ask the bar manager if he could turn on the Texas Tech game. WHAT? Are you kidding me? I tapped him on the shoulder and asked him to repeat what he said and then pointed to the Tech shirt that Meezy was wearing. It was hilarious to be standing next to a fellow alum, in a bar in Brussels, Belgium. We talked for a bit and were pleasantly surprised to see that the manager was able to find the game on a streaming telecast. He put it on the TV closest to us and we happily enjoyed some food and beverages while cheering on our Red Raiders!
The next morning, Sunday, we were so excited to meet up with Kim and Fabian. They drove in from Germany to spend the day with us. The first place we visited was the Atomium. All I can say is WOW. It's a breathtaking site and I know that my pictures don't do it justice.
Before heading to our next destination, I had to stop for a Belgian waffle. It's a given!
We proceeded to nearby Mini-Europe, which is a really cool theme park filled with miniature models of historic buildings and recreations of other significant items.
After finishing up our tours of those attractions, we drove back into central Brussels. We did a lot of sightseeing and stopped to take pictures in front of the Royal Palace.
A trip to Brussels isn't complete without a stop to check out Manneken Pis. He's not much to look at, but since I've heard about him my whole life (from my Dutch father and grandparents), I knew I needed to at least say I'd seen him!
Most of the rest of our time was spent around the Grand Place. The buildings are beautiful and there are lots of shops and restaurants. We couldn't resist a couple bars of Belgian chocolate before leaving.
We truly had a magnificent day in Brussels and were thrilled we got to spend it with Kim and Fabian. That evening we took a train back to London and checked into The Rubens at the Palace. This hotel was in stark contrast to the one we had just left in Brussels. It was fancy, but definitely in a more old-fashioned sort of way. We cracked up when we got in the elevator because there was barely enough room for both of us to stand with our large checked bag. It reminded us of the elevator we took at our hotel in Paris a few years ago. I guess it's a European thing!
On Monday, Meezy and I got to spend the day together as tourists. Last time we were in London, we definitely saw a lot of sights, but one whole day of that trip was spent at Wimbledon. So, we knew there were things we still needed to see. On the way to our first destination, we happened to pass by the Palace during changing of the guard.
The museum itself is gorgeous to look at, inside and out, but the items inside are really what made our jaws drop. We walked into a room and realized we were standing in front of the Rosetta Stone. We both did a double take. I know it sounds silly, but we really were flabbergasted that we were in the presence of the real Rosetta Stone. It's something we've only ever read about in history books and never imagined we'd see in person.
Pardon the bad picture; it's kept safe behind thick glass!
The museum was huge and we enjoyed seeing countless artifacts from ancient civilizations. I highly recommend a visit there if you're in London. After we left the museum, we did a lot of walking and passed by many sights we had seen on our previous trip. They're still enjoyable to see in person, so we didn't mind the redundancy.
Not sure why Londoners are afraid to wear color.
That evening we took a car service to Watford, where Meezy needed to be for work on Tuesday. We were exhausted, so we ordered room service for dinner and went to sleep. The next day was going to be a big one for me - renting a car! Lol. Normally that doesn't sound like a big deal, but it meant I'd be driving a right-side car on the left side of the road. Watford is 40 minutes outside of London, and there's not much to do there, so I wanted the rental car so that I could drive back into London and do some shopping. I took a taxi to the rental car site and picked up my transportation for the day!
First off, you have to get used to being on the right side of the car. Second, most vehicles in Europe are standard. I specifically reserved an automatic (which costs more), because I did not want to deal with that variable! Third, you drive on the left side of the road! I was slightly nervous about embarking on this adventure, but honestly pretty excited about being able to check it off my bucket list. I rented a GPS, which was truly a lifesaver. It took a few minutes of getting used to where I needed to be looking for traffic when making turns, and I definitely wasn't in the correct position to exit round-abouts on numerous occasions. Lol. But, the good thing about round-abouts is that they are big circles! So, when I missed my exit, I just made a lap and nailed it the second time around. Also, people are surprisingly nice about letting you change lanes. Everyone's cars are so tiny and zippy, so you just go where you need to and everyone is cool with it. I like the way they handle traffic lights there, too. They have green, yellow, red, and mean the same as us, but they also flash the yellow right before the light turns from red to green. That gets you prepared and you move your foot to the gas, so that you are already driving as it turns green. It really keeps things moving.
On the way into London, I stopped at the London Designer Outlet at Wembley Park. It's not huge, but it gave me a chance to shop a little, grab lunch, and borrow some Wifi. I sent Meezy a message to assure him I was safe and hadn't gotten into a wreck! Haha. From there, I continued into London to check out Harrod's. (Parking is uber expensive around London, btw). Harrod's is a massive upscale department store that is very famous in Europe. I couldn't afford anything there, but I had a good time checking out level after level of their pricey goods.
After that, I walked to Regent Street. This is another famous shopping locale, but with much more affordable stores. The NFL is doing a big push to try and make American football popular in London, so there were lots of banners flying overhead, advertising the NFL and an upcoming parade.
That concluded another exhausting day for me, so I drove back to Watford for the evening, to see Meezy. The next morning, I drove my rental car to Heathrow for my flight back to DFW. When I checked in for my flight, there was a business class upgrade available, so you bet I took it! Spending the 10 hour flight home in business class was the best decision I've made in a while. The perks are beyond amazing and the food was pretty spectacular too. I have a feeling I won't get that opportunity again in a while, so I will relish it while I can!