AND SOME FREE–ASSOCIATION
By Kelly Sargent
I HAD to get out of the country for awhile. Self-care, I think it's called. It wasn't just that I needed a break from work and routine — although I do. I specifically needed to be away from the US.
So, here we are in Brussels. We've just been here a day, but thus far we love Belgium. It feels surprisingly like a fit, like home minus the insanity. Except for the drivers! Yikes! Although they (usually) yield to pedestrians, most of them drive like a bat out of hell. Again, yikes!!!
Let me tell you how we got to where we are. It was a simple equation: I was looking for the cheapest flight to Europe I could find. And I did: round-trip airfare from Chicago to Brussels for $448 each. The downside was having to get ourselves to Chicago.
I found our inexpensive flights on an airline called WOW. Yup, that's the name of the airline. It's only been in existence since 2012 and just started flying out of Chicago last month. They're a fun and witty bunch: a no-frills airline, based in Iceland that describes itself in this way, "Iceland's only high performance, low-cost airline. We promise you that WOW feeling!"
It was a l-o-n-g journey! Paul said that it was the first time he'd seen the sun set and rise on the same trip on a plane. Me too.
For our stay, I chose a bed and breakfast called Living in Brussels Urban B and B located in a quintessential, neoclassical neighborhood in a part of town called Etterbeek, roughly three miles from the city center and blessedly free from the congestion and pods of tourists afflicting the central core. We couldn't be happier with our place of temporary residence. Our room is the fifth-floor, converted, renovated attic with large skylights and windows that offer an amazing view of the city in two directions. Quiet and private; exactly our kind of place.
After dinner we walked to a nearby small square, the Place Jourdan, where sidewalk cafes were populated with people having dinner or sampling one of the 1,300+ different regional kinds of beer available — or munching on frites served with mayonnaise, a particular Belgian specialty, being sold by a street vendor. Paul chose the vendor's own special concoction, a spiced tartar sauce, instead of mayonnaise. I ate mine plain.
We strolled the quiet, cobblestone neighborhood till late at night on the way back to our private aerie. C'était très romantique.
Paul Bridson and Kelly Sargent
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