Restaurant at Chateau Namur, Namur, Belgium

We ate dinner one evening during our stay at Chateau Namur.
We’d read about the food, and restaurant, and seen lots of photos of the meals, so we were looking forward to a pleasant dinner.
We ate a very small lunch, so that we’d enjoy our evening meal.

We chose the Chefs Menu, which consisted of four courses.
The waiters were very young, and obviously keen to do everything correctly, the service was good.
We ordered a bottle of red wine, and a bottle of still mineral water.
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The first course we were served was a tiny round of smoked salmon, with a cashew nut on top, served on a piece of slate. The salmon was pleasant enough, although it also had a few other ingredients mixed through it, but no idea what why the chef added the cashew nut.

This first course was followed by another, which consisted of two dishes. One large dish was placed in front of us which had so many things in it I can’t remember them all. I do remember, tiny pieces of Chinese gooseberries, tomato, onion, and various other things, on top of this was pâté, and on top of the pâté was a small slice of fresh fig.
The second part of this course, was served on a piece of slate, which was placed next to the large dishes in front of us. The slate also had pâté on it, and something that is not easy to describe; it was a cake-like sliver, sweet, crunchy, topped with Chinese gooseberries and tomatoes. It tasted like Christmas, very festive.

The net course was soup. This was pretty much as you’d expect, a bowl of soup. A large bowl, not much content. It was obviously mushroom soup, but as with the previous course there was lots going on with it. It was quite cold, and very salty.
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The main course arrived a long time after we’d finished the soup. It was so long after that we were thinking about going to bed.
The main course was fish, I can’t remember what fish it was. The late looked quite colourful as once again the chef had added lots of components. I can’t remember everything that was on the plate, and all of the photos I shot of the food are out of focus – bleary eyed from tiredness, but I do remember a coupe of minuscule shrimps, Brussel sprouts, a few smudges of something orange? maybe pumpkin? Also on the plate was a buttery sauce which the fish was lounging on, and there was a spring-roll, filled with several things, the main one of which tasted like seaweed. The spring-roll was very greasy. To accompany the main course we were served a small glass of potato wedges, and a dish of sauce of some kind.

Dessert was a choice of Creme brûlée, or cheese. Laura chose the Creme brûlée, I chose cheese. Laura ate one tiny mouthful of her desert, which she said was more than enough, as it was the worst Creme brûlée she’s ever had. It was pink, possibly raspberry, lumpy, and the topping wasn’t crunchy as you’d expect.
The cheese was wheeled to our table on a large trolley. The selection of cheese looked good at first glance, but as the waiter told me what was offer I was not impressed. Basically a couple of hard cows milk cheeses and a couple of soft. Also on the trolley were fresh grapes; green and black. We’d seen other diners being served a large number if grapes, but as there were only a few green grapes left, that’s what I was given. There was dried fruit too, figs, apricots, and dates, as well as honey and chutney.

Er, what can I say about our dinner?
It was without doubt memorable, but not for good reasons.
The chef probably can cook, but it’s difficult to tell from this meal. It was all too much. Every course had way too many ingredients, most of which did not work together well, or at all.
He obviously doesn’t agree with the less is more approach.
Having looked forward to our dinner all day we were both very disappointed.
We returned to our room after dinner, and unfortunately the dinner continued to return to us, the immense mixture of foods and flavours repeating on us all through the night.
As I said, we’d read good things about the restaurant at chateau Namur, but it was not good. Maybe the chef was having an off day?
We noticed some of the other diners were also unimpressed with the food.
We would not eat there again, once was once too much.

Brugge, Belgium

We arrived in Brugge by train from Brussels. The journey only took an hour, so there were quite a few tourists, day-trippers, on the train.
The first thing that we did when we arrived in Brugge was visit the tourist information office in the train station, to get a city map.
Then is was a couple of minutes walk to our hotel. Neither of us felt 100% so we decided not to bother with any sightseeing, and stayed in our room resting for the rest of the day. Plus the freezing weather meant all we wanted to do was stay inside in the warm.
We did pop into a bar in the station in the evening for a quick beer though – well, when in Belgium….. ;)

Photos of Brugge

The next morning the weather was horrid. As we were getting dressed, it started raining, then just as we were about to leave the hotel, it started snowing. Putting on a brave face we headed towards the centre of town, stopping along the way at De Halve Maan brewery for a fortifying beer. Not that we needed the excuse of snow to stop for a breakfast beer. We like beer! We like beer for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or any time.

Video of Brugge

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We finally made it to centre of town, but the weather was so bad that we did not really enjoy the fine architecture. The snow was falling thick and fast, everyone was trudging along, heads down, trying to keep warm.
We did not linger in town, we decided to walk back towards our hotel and the warmth it offered. On the way back we stopped for lunch at a little cafe a couple of doors down from De Halve Maan brewery.
I had beef stew, Laura opted for fish. The food was cooked fresh, the service friendly, and it was much cheaper than the majority of the restaurants we’d seen in town, which were over-priced. The economic crisis strikes again.

Food scoffed, we returned to our hotel, via a supermarket to pick up a few bits for sandwiches to have that evening. Sandwiches in our room was a much better option than having to venture out in the freezing cold for dinner.

Instagram photos of Brugge

The following day it was much brighter, and there was even a slight glint of sun every now and then. We strolled into the centre of Bruges, enjoying the walk. We stopped along the way for a coffee at De Vuyst. The coffee was very nice, served with a small square of tasty sponge cake. We sat there for quite a while, sipping our coffees and listening the to jazz music playing softly.
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We then explored Brugge for a couple of hours. It was a completely different day to yesterday, life is so much better when you’re not freezing your bits off. :o
For lunch we went to Brasserie Den Tijd in the central train station. Laura was still feeling rough, with bronchial issues, so we thought eating closer to our hotel would be better, not much walking required afterwards.
We both had the daily menu, which was vegetable soup to start, and sausage, cauliflower cheese, and potato croquettes for the main course. A simple meal and very satisfying. The meal also came with a coffee or tea to finish. Good value at 13.50€ per person.
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We both thoroughly enjoyed our time in Brugge, it’s a pretty town with lots of interacting places to wander.

ibis budget Brugge Centrum Station, Brugge, Belgium

We spent three nights at the Ibis Budget Centrum, in Brugge, Belgium.
Check-in was friendly and efficient. Our room was on the third floor overlooking the front of the hotel.

Positive Points ~
1. Good location. A couple of minutes walk from the train station, and about only 20 minutes from the centre of the old town.
2. Free WiFi available in our room, although it was very slow, and often so slow it wasn’t useable.
3. Carrefour Express supermarket just round the corner.
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Negative Points ~
1. The window, which was actually a full size glass door, only opened a couple of inches. It had a latch that allowed it to open in stages, also a lock, but as there was no key we could only open it as far as the bracket allowed.
Despite the weather being freezing during our stay, we would have liked to be able to open the window fully – fresh air is good for you.
2. Our room was small, more suited to one person, not two. In an effort to make it feel larger it had been designed in a way which probably looked good on paper, but not in reality. The shower and sink were in the bedroom. This may bother some people who like their privacy.
3. The loo was in a separate room, but the door was very thin and was smaller than the door frame, so once again this meant it wasn’t particularly private.
4. The shower door had a hole for a handle, which meant water could easily go in to the bedroom. Also it didn’t fit properly at the bottom, so water could leak from the too.
5. There was no wardrobe, just a few clothes hangers on a wall bracket.
6. No storage. We don’t travel with suitcases, which is just as well because the only for them would be under the bed, if they’d fit.
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ibis budget Brugge Centrum Station,
Marie Popelinplantsoen 4,
8000 Brugge,
Belgium
Phone:+32 50 40 51 20

Brussels City Centre Apartments, Brussels, Belgium

We spent three nights at Brussels Apartments in Brussels, Belgium.
Our one bedroom self-catering apartment was one of many in a large building.

Positive Points
1. Quiet. Our apartment was at the rear of the building overlooking residential properties so we were not disturbed by road noise.
2. Good location. About 20 minute walk to the centre of Brussels, and 15 minutes from the Gare du Nord.
3. A good choice of bars and restaurants locally.
4. A couple of small independant mini-marts nearby, plus a small Carrefour Express.

Negative Points
1. Not obvious how to gain entry to the building on arrival. We only managed to get in when another guest was leaving, they also kindly told us where to go to check-in.
There was no business name on the outer door, or bells, and once inside there was no name on the ‘reception’ door, which was in fact just another apartment.
2. The apartment was really a studio, with a mezzanine bedroom.
3. Steps up to the bedroom were not much more than a ladder, they were very steep with narrow steps.
4. Free WiFi never worked.
5. Erratically equipped kitchenette. There were no forks, but there was washing-up liquid, and lots of glasses.
6. No TV.
7. When we left there was no one around to give our keys too, so we had to slide em under the ‘reception’ door.
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Rue de l’Association 32-34,
Brussels, 1000
Belgium
Tel: +32498575998

Chateau Namur, Namur, Belgium

We spent two nights at Chateau Namur, in Namur, Belgium.
The hotel and fine dining restaurant of the hotel school of Namur, is set in large grounds away from the city.
Chateau Namur is a 4 star hotel which is popular with tourist and corporate guests alike. It’s a large building with several seminar rooms suitable for business use, and ample space for weddings and other events. There’s adequate parking.

Positive Points
1. Friendly and professional welcome.
2. Large room.
3. Large bathroom. Bathtub in the bathroom.
4. Lots of parking.
5. Restaurant and bar.
6. Pretty good value for money.
7. Free fast WiFi

Negative Points
1. The decor is dated. Furniture showing serious signs of wear and tear. Upholstery stained.
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Chateau Namur in Namur, Belgium was very busy during our stay. The day we arrived a diabetic dog conference was taking place, with vets everywhere. That evening there was a glucosamine conference underway, which seemed very lively too. On the morning we left, yet another conference was starting.
There was also a good mixture of overnight guests, ranging all ages, from families with young children, to older retired couples.
We throughly enjoyed our stay at Chateau Namur, it was very pleasant.

Avenue de l’Ermitage, 1
B-5000 Namur – BELGIUM

Tél. : +32 (0)81 72 99 00
Fax : +32 (0)81 72 99 99
http://www.chateaudenamur.com

Best Western Univers, Liege, Belgium

We spent three nights at the Best Western, Univers in Liege, Belgium.
The welcome was friendly and professional.
Neither of us were feeling well during most of our stay, so we spent quite a lot of time in our room. Thankfully it was comfortable, and quiet.

Positive Points
1. Close to the train station, it’s literally just across the road.
2. Large comfortable bed.
3. Lots of cafes/bars and restaurants nearby.

Negative Points
1. It is quite a distance from the centre of town.

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Best Western Univers Hotel
Rue des Guillemins, 116
B-4000 Liège
Tel : +32(0)4/254.55.55
Fax : +32(0)4/254.55.00
http://www.hotelunivers.be/

Brussels, Belgium

Day One

We arrived in Brussels by train from Namur on a Saturday morning. The train carriage was packed like a tin of sardines. I did manage to get a seat, but Laura opted to stand all the way. She insisted I sit down because of my ankylosing spondylitis pain. There were a couple of instances where passengers disembarked and laura could have sat down, but being the lovely lady she is she remained standing to allow others to sit. There was the usual mix of people you’d expect on a train, but also a couple of groups of young children, one was a troop, girls club of some sort. They were all quite well behaved, and quiet. A couple of groups of 8/10 of them managed to squeeze on to seats for four people.
We were pleased to get off of the train when we arrived at our destination.
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Once we arrived in Brussels we found our accommodation, dumped our stuff, and headed into town. Being a Saturday most of the bars and restaurants along the way were closed, and sadly a good few of them were closed-down.
The streets were pretty deserted. It was a little eerie. No doubt people were staying indoors avoiding the cold weather.

We mooched round the Grand Place for a while, then headed back North towards our digs, and lunch.
We ate at a restaurant, Garden City, Place de la Republic, just up the road from our rental apartment. Laura had chicken in a tarragon sauce, I had, Stoemp Saucisse, sausages with bubble and squeak style potatoes. The restaurant was lively, the service good, and the food tasty.
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What was interesting as we walked the streets, was the fact that even around the streets near the Grand Place, a lot of businesses had gone out of business. It’s quite sad and shocking to see this in the centre of a capital city.
A lot of Brits blame Brussels for everything, I wonder who the people of Brussels blame?

Video of Brussels – Day One

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Day Two

On our second day in Brussels we wandered into the Turkish area of town. On the way we first stopped at the small botanic gardens (Botanique Kruidtuin), where we took some photos, mainly of the statues, and shot a little video.
We stopped for a coffee, for Laura, and a beer, for me, at the cafe in the botanic gardens. Laura was appalled at her tiny cappuccino, and even more so at the 3€ price.
The we headed North to Place de la Reine Koninginneplein.
As we’d rented an apartment we opted to eat back at ‘home’.

Video of Brussels – Day Two

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Day Three

We headed back into the centre of town via the Parc de Bruxelles and the Palais Royal/Konninklijk Palesis.
A quick gander at the Manneken piss, then it was lunch at Manneken Cafe/Restaurant on Rue au Beurre, 42 Rue au Beurre, just off of the Grand Place.
We chose this restaurant simply because through the window we spotted a roaring open fire. It was quite busy inside, the service was good, the food mediocre. We both had the plat du jour, beef Bourguignon with chips. The beef was tender and flavoursome, but unfortunately it was stone cold. Thankfully though, the beer was cold too. Laura had a 50cl glass of Kriek, I had a 50cl glass of Ramée.
Bellies full, all be it with cold food, we wandered back to our digs.

Video of Brussels – Day Three

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We’ve visited Brussels before, enjoyed the Medieval architecture, the food, and most importantly the beer.
Unfortunately this time, the weather was not brilliant, and neither of us were feeling well, so we didn’t have as much fun as we could have. Never the less, we still enjoyed our short stay.

Photos of Brussels, Belgium

Instagram Photos of Brussels, Belgium