(From our trip in November 2019)
Today started off quite cold, brrrr which of course we loved hahaha. We are suckers for a crisp beginning to the day. We were both super excited for this morning because we were booked to go and see something we have always wanted to see…..
Anne Frank’s House
I remember reading this book in high school and being so moved by how incredibly well Anne wrote and just stunned at the horror her and her family endured hiding in that hidden annexe of the house for 2 years. Can you imagine? I’m not sure whether the book was a class novel or whether just everyone my age read it but Husband and I both agreed going to Anne Frank’s House was a must do!
- (Travel tip – you need to jump online and book your tickets exactly 2 months in advance to get inside the house. Yes I know that sounds insane but…..this is not something to be missed and rocking up on the day and expecting to get in will just lead to disappointment. I think they do release a few random entry tickets each morning but you would need to line up and waste precious hours of your trip and still not be guaranteed a ticket. So do yourself a favour, work out what day you will be visiting here, put a note in your diary and book yourself in)
The outside of the actual Anne Frank House is quite uninspiring to be honest.
You enter the museum around the corner from the actual house and the facade is very modern.
We booked the Introductory Session as well, it was so worth the extra expense. It really gave you a good background on Anne Frank and her family, their life before the war, everyday struggles when they were in hiding and ultimately how it all unravelled. I took a few photos of her “life timeline” while we were in the introductory session because I knew no photos would be allowed inside the actual “house”.
They have done this museum/showcase so respectfully and wonderfully. It’s kind of cramped and crowded because you are walking up the actual stairs and into the actual rooms where they lived and hid. Areas are roped off so you can’t touch certain things but it all adds to create an incredible display. Can you imagine living with that many people in such cramped quarters for so long without going crazy. I mean if Covid lockdown has taught us anything it’s that we don’t really like spending too much time with our families. Like, NOT.AT.ALL. People were bitching and moaning after a few weeks – imagine living it for 2 years with the constant fear of being captured by the Nazis and put into a concentration camp. Puts Australia’s covid restrictions into perspective doesn’t it.
Anne Frank’s house receives over 4000 people through it’s doors every day which blows my mind – all from a little girl writing a diary about her scary and strange experiences during the war. I highly recommend anyone visiting Amsterdam to go and experience this. It was worth all of the effort to book in advance and we both thought it was amazing.
Graphic of inside the “secret annexe”
Afterwards we had lunch at a nearby little authentic place called Cafe Le Prins. I wish we had come here sooner on our trip because it was super cute and the food was not only delicious and plentiful but it was amazingly cheap! We ordered soup with bread, 2 massive toasties and 2 cokes and it was only $22euro. And it was all served by a little old grumpy waiter who actually totally added to the charm of the experience. I loved watching the world go by out of the huge glass windows. If I lived near here this would totally be my local.
Bikes and Families
As we wandered back through the streets of the Jordaan – I couldn’t help noticing how many familes were riding by with their kids attached to the bikes in varying degrees of safety. I mean, since cars aren’t very convenient for getting around what’s a parent with kids to do but strap them onto a bike however they can to get from A to B. Not gonna lie, I’m pretty happy right now that I didn’t have to raise my kids in this “biking society”. I hate riding bikes. I had to ride one to school every single day – rain hail or shine and I promised myself the day I finished high school that I did not need to partake in that shitshow ever again for as long as I shall live……and at the ripe old age of “still young at heart” I have kept my promise to myself. Having to ride my kids to school or day care or play group or mothers group – nope nup nada. What an effort the Dutch have to go through to get the kids around. Here’s some photos I snapped including one that looks like a little mothers group gathering haha.
And here are some images I kindly borrowed from the interfacegramweb just to give you an idea of what parents go through on the daily in the Dam, and you can go and kiss your unsexy people mover in the driveway and be glad you live in Oz haha. This shit is messed up!
One thing that absolutely intrigued me was these uneven gaps between the houses in Amsterdam. I guess when you build a city on, well water basically, you’ve gotta expect a little slip and slide but some of the gaps were insane.
We slowly wandered back to our darling hotel to grab the suitcases – it was time to catch a train to Brussels, Belgium. We have enjoyed Amsterdam so much. It’s got the most wonderful feel about it and we already know we must come back again and spend some more time getting to know this beautiful city! I could live here actually……almost…..those damn bikes haha
When we walked to the station yesterday it didn’t seem that far but when you are dragging your big ass suitcases across cobblestones with a husband that walks at speeds that resemble a racing car and your little legs don’t do that kind of hecticness, it becomes a little more challenging. You can’t do this with style and grace – you’ve just gotta tuck your bewbs into your waistband, put your head down and get the shit done.
Not gonna lie, the only reason we are heading to Brussels is because husband loves mussels and when I started planning the trip and the countries were all locked in he said “Hey wouldn’t the best place to eat mussels be in Brussels?” So being the best wife in the world I added Belgium to the list. Yep we are so cultured in our family we visit whole countries for just one meal. We take our culinary shit seriously ya’ll. (I love saying ya’ll, yes I know I’m not some cowboy boot wearing, teeth missing, rocking on my front porch southern woman but I identify as one when I say ya’ll) #sorrynotsorry.
I wasn’t sure there was much I want to see in Brussels but when my man says he wants to eat mussels in Brussels, that’s what he gets. Not to be confused with the Muscles from Brussels aka Jean-Claude Van Damme of course. And that’s the story about how “another” country got added to the itinerary.
Bullet train to Belgium
Honestly Europe has public transport and travelling from country to country NAILED DOWN!!! It’s so cheap to get from place to place and so quick. I can literally get to another country quicker and cheaper than driving from Canberra to Sydney. As I’ve mentioned before we are using trains as our main method of travel on this trip and I’m confident after much research that we have made all the right choices when it comes to which company to buy tickets from, which train is best, what ticket gives the most bang for buck etc.
- (Train travel tip #1 – when you are organising train travel throughout Europe you have to visit the most amazing website called www.seat61.com. Honestly this guy has created the most incredible resource. You can look up any train trip you are considering and right there is all of the nitty gritty on which company to book with (there are nearly always several options), what the rough ticket costs are, how far in advance to book and my favourite bit is he shows you photos of each carriage, seats and class level so you can make an informed decision before buying your tickets)
We caught a bullet train to Brussels – the whole trip only took 2 hours. It was a train that was coming from Paris, heading towards Brussels but stopping in Amsterdam so perfect for us to jump on. Given it was a train that already had passengers it was important to buy tickets in advance and pay extra for allocated seating.
You can get trains that take longer from Amsterdam to Brussels for a little cheaper but I’m always keen to get somewhere quickly. We were in 2nd class on this train and I was super impressed with how plush and spacious the seats were as well as the carriage. I’m so glad I didn’t pay the extra for 1st class for this trip because it absolutely wasn’t necessary. I was so happy and the whole trip was seamless.
Train back story – We had a terrible experience once travelling from London to Edinburgh where we had allocated seats but as soon as the train platform was announced you had to run (not even joking, it was a farking 400m sprint, with suitcases) to get to your carriage to try and get your luggage on first because room was limited. Unfortunately at the last minute the train worky people changed out the carriage we had all bought tickets for and replaced it with one that didn’t have as many seats, the numbers didn’t quite line up and the whole thing proceeded to be a bit of a shit show. This was our first train travel overseas experience and it was starting off fairly shite tbh. It caused alot of stress and anxiety with people fighting over other people sitting in their seats etc. I was fine, I just grabbed a conductor, said mate there’s been a cock up, he said no worries, you guys sit here and don’t let anyone tell you different, if there are issues get them to come and find me so I was like, hells to the yeah and job done. Husband however, man oh man he put the drama into drama queen on this trip. He sat on the edge of his seat for that whole train trip, super stressed about the seating situation, head hanging out into the aisle trying to see our suitcases, hating the world, etc etc. Happy happy joy joy!
So that is the story of how MrKellysonTour became a nervous train traveller and it’s also the story of how MrsKellysonTour became an over the top train travel researcher and an obsessive compulsive book our seats so luggage can be viewed the whole efffing time person. We aren’t normal. We know it, you know it so shut up (we will not be taking further questions at this time thanks!)
- (Train travel tip #2 – European train tickets go on sale anywhere between 3-6 months in advance. The earlier you book your ticket, the cheaper it will be and you’ll get first choice of where you sit (did I mention husband neeeeeddddddsssss to be able to see our cases from wherever he is sitting). Ordering your tickets early means you get to choose from some of the cheap tickets that are available, if you wait until closer to your trip or god forbid the day of your trip (you monster) then it will cost you. Not gonna lie, I also enjoy having boxes ticked and one less thing to worry about so I like to do stuff as early as possible)
Our Air Bnb Apartment in Brussels
When we arrived in Brussels we took an uber ( god I love them) to our apartment. Super cheap and efficient. Along the way the driver was happily chatting about the city. I was stunned at the amount of construction we could see. The driver said it is EVERYWHERE – so much regenerating and modernising going on. I have to say that it really took away from the charm. I had gone into visiting Brussels not feeling super excited. When researching the city there wasn’t all that much that was jumping out at me to see and do that was up our alley. I mean we are always up for food and booze so it’s not like we couldn’t enjoy ourselves but I was a little nervous that Brussels wasn’t going to “wow” me. All the construction did not set a good tone.
So we arrive to where our apartment is located and I love the area immediately. I may or may not have “google map walked” the area already so I knew what was in the vicinity so it all looked fairly familiar and wonderful.
Now, I was very excited about this apartment. Brussels is an expensive place to stay but Air Bnb’s were reasonably priced and in good locations so I decided to go with that. The actual apartment lived up to the pictures and hype (I knew it would, I had read tons of the reviews, derrrrr of course I did) and both husband and I were really pleased with it. Spacious and light and these amazing windows you could throw open so you could hear the sounds of “life” down below. I felt very cosmopolitan indeed and almost like a local.
Now there were just 2 teeny tiny glitches with the place that I knew about beforehand, however when you get swept up in the charm of an apartment you put all of those niggly naggies to the back of your mind and go “pffftttt, it’s finnnneeee”.
Teeny Glitch #1 – the stairs to get to the apartment. Yep lifts are for pussies in Brussels. And at this point you are thinking, god Lisa is sooooo dramatic, how bad can the stairs be? Well my friends, there were alot of narrow steep stairs. Like 4 flights. So you know, 1 flight of narrow steep stairs, then another flight, then another and another. Uhuh yeppers. And taking our very fucking heavy suitcases up those stairs was like a firebreathing whore from hell (so of course I got husband to do the real heavy lifting – hey don’t judge, it’s the only reason I brought him on this trip).
For the rest of our stay if I got down the bottom of the stairs and realised I forgot something it was legit dead to me. I mean, if I got to the bottom of those stairs and realised I wasn’t wearing pants, well my friends that day became “Pantless Tuesday”. I was not going back up those stairs for anything. Honestly even if I had realised I left my newborn baby upstairs, I would literally have announced in my best Meryl Streep aka Lindy Chamberlain voice “a Brussels apartment’s got my baby” and I would’ve gone about my sightseeing day without giving Azaria another thought. And if a dingo made it up the steps while I was out, well it is what it is!
(yeah I know, too far, I’m ashamed of how low I will go for a laugh) kind of
Teeny Glitch #2 – and now this one was quite the challenge. The bathroom, it was very modern and well put together……if you are an efffing 5 year old child. If however you are a 20 something slightly out of shape model you may have a problem. I actually called it the Gastro Bathroom. It’s not often you can poo and vomit at the same time without spilling a drop!!! And you weren’t really able to spread your legs wide enough to really get a hand down there for a quick wipe so it was going to be a bit “rustic”. It would probably help if I gave up fatty food, coffee and booze but they are the things that make me semi reasonable to be around so….No to that!
Anyway by the time bags are dumped and breathing without thinking I’m going to pop a lung has been restored (damn you stairs), its around 5pm so time for a quick explore and an adult bevvy I think.
The location of our apartment is perfect. Tons of restaurants and bars on our doorstep and only about a 5-10 minute walk to Grand Place which is indeed Grand so I can see why they didn’t need to get too creative with the name. We only took a quick spin through here and first impressions are – CONSTRUCTION!!!! Oh for the love of Bob the Builder what the hell is going on with all this construction. The city is looking crappy indeed right now.
I had a list of contenders in the bar stakes so we thought we would hit a few up. First up we tried a place called Delirium which had thousands of great reviews so I was keen. Unfortunately the guy behind the bar was too busy talking to his mates and would only serve the locals who spoke french. Honestly, anyone at the bar who looked like a tourist or tried to get his attention in English – he just ignored. Lawddddd help me but Demon Lisa wanted to rise up, jump that bar and throat punch the dickhead but alas I’m too old, tired, short and unfit so instead I threw him my A+ resting bitch face and sauntered outta there. FU and the horse you rode in on guy. You clearly don’t know how much money you would’ve made off this english speaking, champagne guzzling tourist!!! This place has so many good reviews but they clearly need to sack some staff.
Next we headed to Bar Del Amis which had a cool vibe and surprisingly the bar staff were friendly and happy to serve us. How refreshing after that last place. I loved the decor and we enjoyed a few adult bevvies to get the party started.
(I honestly wanted to come back to that first shitty bar Delirium later on when I was plastered and say in my best Julia Robert’s Pretty Woman monologue voice “remember me from earlier when you wouldn’t serve me – yeah big mistake, big, huge!!!!”)
After a few quiet ales we headed to the main event – MUSSELS IN BRUSSELS!!! A ton of research went into deciding where to go for mussels and not just to find the best. It seems they can actually be quite hit and miss throughout the city and all advice was to stay away from the central tourist areas. So I set about finding somewhere with amazing reviews, especially from locals.
I settled on a place called Grimbergen for dinner – thousands of rave reviews so I thought I was on a winner.
Well, the mussels came out looking the goods and judging by Husband’s face he was keen as mussels, I mean mustard. Look at that happy face, he’s frothing over them. He dug in and I was patting myself on the back for job well done.
Unfortunately they were just OKAY – he wasn’t overwhelmed or underwhelmed, he was just whelmed. How disappointing is that. We visited a whole country just for this moment and they were…….”average”. Whomp whomp. Truth be told he usually prefers chilli mussels and I think the tradition Belgium style of cooking muscles with white wine and mild flavours just didn’t tick his boxes. Well I tried I guess. The good news is my food looked good…..hmmm actually I jest, my plate didn’t inspire me either. That sausage, mate what’s with that sausage. It kinda looks like a poo poo doesn’t it? Sigh, I mean I ate it but with a lack of joy. So dinner was a mediocre bust.
In the interests of being transparent I was worried about food poisoning so I made husband have the mussels on the first night and refused to let him try again other days. As with all seafood you need to make sure you are getting fresh well prepared food. Mussels are no exception. And mumma is hopping on a plane in 3 days to Iceland and mumma doesn’t want any silly husband getting food poisoning and ruining her ~once in a lifetime expensive AF~ experience sooooo mumma had to find somewhere that wouldn’t make him sick or else. Yes it’s all about me and I refuse to apologise bitches.
Actually how we felt about our dinner is a bit how I feel about Brussels in general – a mediocre bust. I’m not feeling it so far, let’s see what tomorrow brings before we judge judy this city though.
On the way home we went to Lidl supermarket (like Aldi) for some groceries. It’s always fun looking through grocery stores in other countries, it’s one of our fave things to do. Had a look around, got most of what we wanted but we literally could not find refridgerated milk WTF? It was nowhere to be seen and my french and dutch aren’t good enough to enquire as to what the hell so we went with long life milk (ugh). Sacrifice indeed.
After crawling, literally, up those stairs it was time to sleep. I mean we spent half a day in one country and half in another. I think we deserve a rest.
Have you been to Brussels???? What did you think??? Let me know by commenting below, I would love to hear.
Highlight – Anne Frank House, little cafe
Lowlight – satan stairs and mofo bartender, oh and maybe Brussels itself
Temperatures – High 6 Low -1
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