Adhering to our agenda we were up and out before dawn to catch the first streetcar of the day to the train station. we boarded our train and were on our way to Brussels, our next destination. Along the way we passed through Rotterdam. Flattened during World War II it was rebuilt as a planned, completely modern city. We also traveled through Delft and Antwerp, both places on my "to get to someday " list.
Arriving in Brussels we discovered we did not have change for the Metro ride to our hotel. This was solved with a purchase of truffles, our first experience with Belgian cuisine. Along with Mexico and everywhere I ate in New Orleans, the food in Belgium was some of the most consistently excellent I have ever had. The truffles were just the first of several taste treats we were to experience during our all too brief stay there.
When we got to our Metro stop and went up to street level we were delighted to discover that our hotel was only 1/2 block from the station. We would be using that station during our day trip to Bruges as well as the next leg of this trip to Paris. The neighborhood was heavily Muslim, reminiscent of the are of Chicago in which we live. We immediately felt at home. The hotel was spare and modern but clean and well priced with a generous breakfast selection included.
As in Amsterdam, we had arrived extremely early so once again left our luggage with the hotel and set out on foot to the Grand Platz, on everyone's list of "must sees" in Brussels. We walked through tiny winding streets enjoying this city's sublime blending of new and old. Birthplace of he early 20th century's Art Nouveau movement, it also includes ruins from Rome's occupation of portions of Europe during the first 500 years of the first millennium., The ruins can be found under the city's Cathedral, on the city's outskirts and just a few blocks from the Grand Platz on a small, unassuming street underground, visible through a protective glass skylight.
Our first glimpse of the city's Art Nouveau heritage is the mosaic tile front of one building featuring the faces of four women realized in that romantic style, their curled tresses unfurling in an imagined wind.