Belgium w/ California mileage run prelude

Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by violist, Mar 8, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    UA 424 IAD BOS 1225 1354 752 2A Ch9^ Empower^

    Catering was the usual snack basket, of which Popchips are
    the best offering these days. I drowned my sorrows in
    Courvoisier, which fortunately was in good supply. I will
    draw a discreet veil over what I did during this layover,
    but it involves actual (shudder) work and at least one
    friendly club concierge.

    UA 593 BOS DEN 1806 2044 752 4C Ch9^ Empower:td:

    Loading up pretty easy with a gate staff with whom I was
    not familiar (new hires? Continental people?). The door was
    closed pretty early, and off we went.

    Matronly crew who warmed up and turned out to be excellent.
    The meal was chicken or vegetarian ravioli. The former
    turned out to be herb cheese stuffed, and after I scraped
    off that poison everything was fine. It came with excellent
    pecan-cranberry couscous and not quite so excellent sugar
    snaps and carrots. Dessert, the standard chocolate chip
    cookie, was ice-cold. Courvoisier, because the wine
    offerings were pretty abysmal.

    UA 9 DEN SAN 2136 2258 752 2D Ch9^ Empower^

    An uneventful flight. I slept through the snack, with the
    aid of another Courvoisier or three. We landed a few minutes
    early, which did me no good, because I was again homeless:
    11 hours in this wonderful town, and the Westin and the
    Hilton, my usual hangouts, were pricing out at nearly 300
    buckaroos, so I decided to sleep at the airport.

    This turned out to be not such a great idea, as they don't
    stop the horrid elevator music overnight, and there's
    noplace warm to camp out. I figure I got about 3 hours'
    worth. Exceedingly thankful that AA checkin started at 0430
    and the Admiral's Club opened at 5.

    Headed up to the counter at 0420 and was dismayed to find
    hundreds of people, mostly military by the looks of them,
    waiting to check in. So I went downstairs for another half
    hour's snooze.

    Back upstairs. Same problem. But there were self-serve
    kiosks, of which I took advantage, despite my friend lili's
    warning that they were useless for an international itin.
    Maybe I lead a charmed life, because the oceans parted for
    me to get to the kiosk, and check-in took half a jiff, and
    off I went through priorpty security, and there was the AC,
    just open. You get your orange juice at the bar. You can
    also get wine (some Chilean muck this time, or the premium

    0302 AA1442 SAN ORD 0940 1535 738 4F

    Boarding, as usual at this station, was rather chaotic.
    There's a good reason for zone and priority boarding.

    Efficient crew, uneventful flight.

    A breakfast quesadilla was fine, especially washed down
    with a Courvoisier.
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  2. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    lili got me into the Flagship lounge, where Piper Sonoma
    Brut was the order of the day. Not the fanciest stuff in
    the world, but palatable enough, and I thank you.

    AA 86 ORD LHR 1645 0605 777 12J

    Pommery Brut was a nice way to start the flight, and I
    stuck with it throughout the meal.

    To Start
    Warm mixed nuts

    Mojito shrimp served with pineapple and spiced coconut
    Perfectly ordinary, perfectly okay shrimp, no particular
    mojitoness about them; the fruits added mostly a textural
    contrast, the pineapple stringy, the coconut like sawdust.

    Fresh seasonal greens and an assortment of fresh vegetables
    offered with dressing or premium extra virgin olive oil and
    balsamic vinegar

    The greens were mostly romaine; the veg a couple cherry
    tomatoes, an olive or two, a cucumber slice.

    Bread Basket
    Assorted gourmet breads

    Main Course
    Boursin Crusted Beef Filet - Grilled tenderloin of beef with
    a Boursin crust presented with wilted spinach, balsamic
    grilled tomatoes and whipped potatoes
    Nadzo Guido. One taste was plenty. I did get a tribute of
    spinach, though, which was fine.

    Oven-roasted Halibut - Oven-roasted halibut accompanied by
    mixed lentils, haricots verts and a roasted tomato-harissa

    Red Thai Curry Chicken - Breast of chicken simmered in a
    creamy red Thai curry and coconut milk broth, accompanied
    by jasmine rice
    As usual, the chicken was hard and tasteless; I rather
    enjoyed the rice, though, which though both pebbly and way
    too soft (airline catering can work some weird miracles),
    had soaked up the sauce and had become rather pleasant

    Cheese Tortellini with Romano Sauce - Homemade tortellini
    stuffed with three cheeses, topped with tomato, mushroom
    and mozzarella sauce, Parmesan cheese and parsley

    Dine Upon Request(r)
    You may choose from one of the featured entrees to be
    served with an appetizer and dessert, presented all at
    once, at any time you wish.


    Ice Cream
    Ben & Jerry's Vanilla Heath(r) Bar Crunch with cocoa
    dusted almonds
    As usual, the height of the meal. lili found the cocoa
    dusted almonds weird; having actually bought them in the
    past by mistake, I knew beforehand that they were weird.
    I ate them anyway.

    Fruit and Cheese
    A selection of gourmet cheeses offered with fresh seasonal
    fruit and assorted crackers

    Courvoisier to wash things down and get me to a sufficiently
    comatose state. I slept well but not long enough.

    Select From
    Three Cheese Omelette - Enhanced by a poblano cream sauce,
    served with basil pesto potatoes, fire roasted turkey
    sausage and roasted tomatoes

    Yogurt - Creamy fruit yogurt

    Cereal - Kellogg's cereal with milk

    All options are offered with fresh seasonal fruit and
    chilled orange juice

    I passed on all but the OJ.

    Breakfast Breads
    A selection of breakfast breads
    I seem to recall, dimly, a croissant. But as I was
    mostly asleep, I can't say much about it.

    Express Breakfast(tm) - Served 45 minutes prior to landing
    to allow you to sleep as long as possible.

    Warm breakfast breads, seasonal fruit and your choice of

    Pre-Arrival Beverage
    For Your Enjoyment

    Chilled sparkling or still water with a fresh citrus garnish
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  3. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    Despite promises from the flight deck, we landed not early
    but, counting a lengthy taxi around the English countryside,
    perhaps a bit late. Further, transiting from 3 to 5 proved
    to be a major pain in the butt, with hordes of bewildered
    passengers somewhat managed by shouting, frustrated BA
    workers. The majority of us were going to T5, so our line
    (and, much later, our bus) was the most jammed up of all.
    Eventually the bus came for the interminable journey. At
    least (I think it was on this trip but possibly the next)
    we got to see 380s from both SQ and QF.

    Now we needed boarding passes. How come BA can issue AA
    passes, but AA can't issue BA ones? Luckily the line was
    short and the girl efficient. She even got us seats
    together. Note in passing: we were unable to change our
    seat assignments either in person or on line back in the
    States; on the return, bing-bang-boom, 3 minutes on the
    computer, et voila.

    When going back into the secure area, the ticket checker
    waved us into the fast track lane, which as usual took
    longer than the regular one (this time owing to some
    gate-crashers being turned away and some rather lost-looking
    people being treated a bit more politely) but which took us
    to our own escalator, which up top unfortunately dumped us
    off with the base canaille, of which we were soon to be.
    Immediately, in fact, as yet another ticket checker bounced
    us out, as the priority security is only for BA elites and
    Club passengers. So we obediently lined up at one of the
    few open lines; as soon as we had a good load of people
    behind us, they opened up several more lanes down the way.
    I believe Murphy is to blame for this. I also neglected,
    when choosing lines, that there were in front of us one
    woman on crutches and a Frenchwoman with many possessions;
    both had issues during the process, as did at least one
    guy with a scruffy backpack. Finally out of there! but we
    had but half an hour to enjoy the Galleries First lounge,
    where I made myself a bacon butty and poured some Comtes
    de Champagne, and life was good. lili had bacon and eggs
    washed down with Ch. Lagrange 01, a St.-Julien that I
    thought a pale imitation of Gruaud or even Talbot, but
    still better than anything you'd get at the Flagship or
    the UA IFL.

    BA 392 LHR BRU 0855 1105 321 17EF

    At boarding time we walked briskly to our gate, to find
    that actual boarding was 5 minutes in the future (we wanted
    to get overhead space, so that last glug of Taittinger went
    unglugged). When general boarding was called, we expedited
    ourselves to the plane and had our overhead space. I passed
    involuntarily on the box breakfast, as I was asleep at the time.
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  4. doc
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    doc Silver Member

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    Super reports.. as always.. thanks :)
  5. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    Thanks, Doc.

    The 12 bus, when you find it, is convenient, getting you
    you downtown in about the same time as the train at a
    cost of only E3. Most of the price disadvantage of the
    train is the appropriately named Diabolo tax, which is a
    soak to pay for a new train line that is intended to
    make BRU a major transportation player modeled after AMS
    and that I think to be wholly unnecessary. Also there's
    free transfer between bus and Metro but (I think) not
    between train and Metro. The Conrad is a mile from the
    train station, so the Metro or a cab would be required.

    From the bus stop at Schuman the blue M sign for the train
    is invisible. We just followed the crowd downhill and
    eventually found it. The station is hideous, like the less
    attractive New York stations but with a touch less urine.

    The trains ain't so great, either, but they run often, and
    there is a nifty little electric display that shows the
    current location of the next train, so disruptions (say)
    can be tracked.

    Schuman to Arts-Loi (slightly nicer) and a transfer to the
    2/6 line to Louise, and the Conrad is a 5-minute walk down
    tony Ave Louise.

    Diamond upgrade to a very large almost suitelike room on
    the 4th floor. Nice bathroom with tub and separate shower.
    The Gold upgrade is the same, I found out. Or maybe lili
    is cuter than I am. Actually, that must be it - they told
    her quite explicitly that she was getting a double upgrade
    for reasons that can't otherwise be explained.

    A quick tour of the hotel. Semi-grand; I rather liked it.
    Whimsical animal sculptures in the lobby by an artist whose
    name I didn't recognize.

    I was too tired to do the art museum, which was my original
    plan, so took a rather too long nap. Around 7 I rendezvoused
    with lili for a food reconnoiter. She had Google mapped
    restaurants and found clusters scattered through town - two
    were close to the hotel, and we decided to look at the
    nearer one, Rue Jourdain, just south of the Waterloo-Louise
    intersection. A lot of appetizing choices, but we ended up
    at the Rendez-Vous des Artistes around the corner, a no-
    frills brasserie that turned out to turn out a really good
    onglet steak frites, which lili washed down with a red plonk
    from the Rhone; also a rather mediocre carbonnades - a bit
    tough from being made with round rather than chuck, a bit
    pale from the meat being insufficiently browned. The only
    carbonnades I recall having had before this have been made
    by me and are quite a bit better. Leffe Brune, with which
    I think the dish was made, improved both the experience and
    my disposition. A frisee salad, nice and fresh and not
    overdressed, and excellent frites came with. It turns out
    that this place is famous for its kitchen being open until a
    mind-boggling 7 am.

    I had some energy back so talked lili into joining me at the
    apparently famous hotel bar, Loui, where a glass of quite
    nice marc de Champagne and one of a semi-tasty Bourgogne
    Passetoutgrains put us in a pleasantly muzzy and sleepy
    condition. It was early yet, but so what, this is Brussels.

    Breakfast at the Cafe Wiltscher was a rather familiar thing,
    but instead of black pudding the Belgians apparently think
    the Brits eat two kinds of bangers. There were a few
    oddities - stuffed grape leaves, for example; dates, which
    went well with a fresh-cut but none too tasty prosciutto;
    apple juice that tasted like crushed apples; good pastries
    including a quite excellent Napoleon and a pain au chocolat
    whose chocolat unfortunately was merely a few chips stuck
    on the outside of a perfectly flaky croissanty thing.
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  6. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    I recall not how we got the unwelcome news that the Metro
    and bus drivers were on strike. We decided at that point
    not to see the city but instead to visit Ghent, where life
    would no doubt be easier. As the Metro was presumably not
    up to its usual robustness, and as the station is only a
    mile away, we hoofed it through a typical neighborhood (I
    describe Brussels as "dirty Paris") and got to the station
    in jig time. Unfortunately, our cards didn't work in the
    ticket machines, so we had to wait a while in line to buy
    from a real person. No problem, our train was delayed
    anyway. Eventually it came - a local - and chugged along
    taking over twice as long as the timetable suggested. We
    didn't get to St. Peter's Station until lunchtime.

    Fodor's says it's an easy ride on the #1 tram to the
    Corn Market and the touristic center. Not so. There's been
    an unfortunately timed reroute northbound onto the #4
    track, so you have to take the #1 northbound to Rabot and
    transfer to the #1 southbound, which follows the normal
    route. Which confused us, and by the time we figured out
    what was going on, we were well north of town. Decided to
    get off at the next stop, in what appeared to be suburbia
    hell, and cross over and retrace. At Wondelgem we found the
    Koe-Vert (Green Cow), which was stuffed with locals, a good
    sign. They were offering a steak frites special, and lili
    had that with a 250 of red wine. Both were better than

    There were a couple things on the menu that I didn't
    understand. One was the spaghetti "Koe-Vert," the other
    the "American" tartine. The quite knowledgeable (otherwise)
    waiter described the former as Bolognese with extra cheese
    and then baked; he stumbled on the other, describing it as
    prepared, then processed in the American style. As I was
    unaware that there was a particular American way of making
    sandwiches, I was tempted to try it, but discretion won, and
    I ordered the regular spaghetti Bolognese. I should have had
    the American, as what he was unable or unwilling to say was
    that the term refers to what is called Cannibal in Brussels
    - raw meat mixed with paprika and mayonnaise. The Bolo was
    an enormous serving of almost al dente pasta with a bright
    red meat sauce with lots of extraneous vegetables, including
    largish chunks of carrot, zucchini, and eggplant. On top an
    enormous amount of shredded Gouda, which I pushed off to the
    side, where it melted into a rubbery lump. Not bad, but not
    what I'd expected; and I shudder to think what extra cheese
    means. I had a big Primus (Haacht), which is sort of like
    Budweiser mixed with an equal part of Heinie.

    We staggered the couple hundred feet to the tram stop and
    waited - and waited - and waited. Other travelers came and
    went. So we returned to the restaurant to collect our
    thoughts. Our friendly waiter consulted with the others
    there, and I overheard the ominous word "strike" - so we
    had not escaped the work stoppage after all, only here in
    Ghent it started at 2. Thereupon unfolded a comedy of
    errors, where the waiter called a taxi for us, but it of
    course didn't come (lots of call for taxis in these
    conditions), and finally we saw a southbound tram, but we
    missed it, but we figured, maybe it was only an hour
    sympathy strike, so we went back and cancelled the cab,
    but no more trams came for another half hour, and finally
    we saw the cab pull up in front of the restaurant, with the
    waiter coming out and talking animatedly with the driver,
    but we ran back and commandeered it for the E15 (E2 a minute
    as it turns out) ride back into town. We got out at the
    Korenmarkt, which is surrounded by the famous steeples of
    the city - very picturesque.
  7. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    We sort of took Fodor's suggested itinerary, but in reverse.
    Notes: the touristic center is in a state of substantial
    reconstruction, though the famous steeples continue to rise
    in their ornate majesty over the daily hubbub. The touristic
    center is quite small (but that's true of Brussels, most of
    whose antiquities were sacrificed to urban renewal in the
    19th century). Aside from one chocolate store, which we
    walked past with an eye to potentially investigation on the
    way back (we didn't find it again), it's full of big name
    shops: and, no, though the mass-market stuff may be better
    than what goes under the marks in the US, it's not worth
    importing, and the prices are high. Not to say we didn't
    enjoy the jaunt through the city - it was quite fun and
    nice to look at. The highlight was St. Baath's Cathedral
    (free) and the Ghent Altarpiece (E4 supplement) by Van Eyck,
    something you've seen in your art history text, no less:
    still majestic and wonderful though behind glass. Also the
    walk past the guildhalls along the main canal. We didn't
    go into the Gravensteen castle (gloomy and with a distinct
    bad vibe), and the other churches were closed. With the
    public transit strike, our day pass was a big old waste,
    and we spent far too much time obsessing about how to get
    back to the station (it would have been a 2-mile walk mostly
    downhill through a rather dull part of town).

    With the sun beginning to fade, it was decided that we
    should follow the #1 tram line upstream for a stop or two so
    we wouldn't get caught in the hideous crush at the Corn
    Market stop. This turned out well - when a tram finally came
    (this sympathy strike or whatever it was taking the form of
    a pretty severe slowdown), each of us managed to find an
    open spot in separate cars); but at each successive stop,
    there were more aspirants than successes. It was a slow trip
    back to St. Peter's, where service to Brussels continued to
    be pretty much on schedule. But when we got there, there was
    a good long interval before the next, so we sat at the bar
    at the very atmospheric (i.e. smoky) bar Drei Zinnen, where
    I had a Troubadour, and lili feasted on vin ordinaire. She
    was impressed by the bicycle parking lot in front of the
    station and took numerous pictures of same. After dodging
    the bullet of a giant primary school group, we trained
    uneventfully to G. du Midi and walked from there through
    until we found our restaurant street, Avenue Jourdain. On
    the way, we passed by a place that offered a 3-course meal
    for E10, but that seemed altogether too cheap to be true,
    so we proceeded on to a restaurant that had caught my eye
    before, Au Boeuf au Gros Sel, where I decided to try the
    boiled beef but then chickened out. Why? I was blanking on
    "the fattiest pieces, please" (in schoolboy French, "les
    morceaux les plus gras possibles, s'il vous plait") and
    feared that I'd get lean stringy meat. Further, I spied
    other things on the carte, things that would guarantee that
    lili keep her fork and distance but that I enjoyed.

    The waitstaff, an upper middle-aged woman and a lower
    elderly man, had little or no English, which led me to
    remark that this was a good use for Brussels in future -
    a place for me to practice my French before heading to,
    say, Paris.

    Anyhow. To begin, we had decent bread and good butter with
    excellent salami and a nice plate of olives, both black and
    green, semi-cured.

    My breaded pig feet (actually one foot, split) was unctuous
    and delicious but came with a wholly superfluous mayonnaise.
    A Leffe blonde went well.

    Kidneys a la Liegeoise - I asked for blood rare, the waiter
    in his infinite wisdom corrected me to "rose'"; I shrugged.
    The dish would have been better blood rare - the split veal
    kidneys in a light creamy brown sauce with an impossible
    amount of lardons. A glass of Bordeaux ordinaire served
    well and also complemented lili's onion soup.

    Dessert didn't seem interesting, so I finished off with a
    glass of Pineau de Charentes, as it was an easy toddle back
    to the Conrad.
  8. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    We were supposed to meet at Cantillon for the 0900 tour.
    lili and I subwayed it to the appropriate station and
    took the scenic route (i.e., turned the wrong way down
    the main drag) to the brewery; we got there, though,
    right on schedule and were right behind the flyer
    contingent. Unfortunately, toomanybooks and his brother
    were not there: but KMA26, the_happiness_store, and
    SceneStealer7 were. We hooked up with the English-
    language tour, given by a fellow with a very dry sense of
    humor - it was more candid and detailed than most other beer
    tours and refreshing and enjoyable. Started out with a
    sample of wort fresh from the kettle (tasted to me like
    the liquid you get off breakfast cereal); then we went on
    to progressively colder and less appetizing regions, from
    the brewing kettles to the storehouses to the place where
    the wort is inoculated with yeast. Finally to the cask
    resting place, where we breathed the sweet vapors emitted
    by the maturing beers. Cantillon is a traditional, low-tech
    operation, more museum than commercial brewery, though its
    products are well regarded.

    kriek - eye-openingly tart and fruity, very unlike the
    sugared (or even artificially sweetened) mass-market
    product, which I always found disgusting. I'm not
    certain if I enjoyed this, but it was certainly not the
    wimpy nonsense that I'm familiar with
    faro - quite sweet, with a bitter orange marmalade aspect;
    nobody cared for this one, which is a locally popular
    gueuze - pleasantly gaseous, rather sour, nothing special.
    The drink's manufacture involves blending of old and new
    lambics, the old for character, the new for fizz
    rose de Gambrinus - less aggressive than the kriek, with
    a nice raspberry flavor
    Cuvee St. Gillaise - young-tasting, grapefruit, sour; I
    found it pretty interesting
    Zwanze 2011 - peppery, wheaty, also interesting. Not sure
    I liked this one, though.

    There were a few others on offer, but six was enough. I
    discover that there were some rarities to be tasted, but
    too bad for that, we had to do the hotel switch thing.

    So back to the Conrad to pack up, then down into the sad
    bowels of the city for the interminable spooky 10-minute
    trip northward.

    Place Rogier subway stop is urine-stained and ugly, and the
    square itself is being dug up, Brussels at its best. The
    Hilton is on the remnants of the square, next to the IC and
    across from the Sheraton and the Comfort Inn.

    I scored a corner room on the top floor. That said, it had
    only one window and was dimmishly lit, and there's no lounge
    to escape to. The light goes on in the bathroom when you
    enter, illuminating two sorts of mold, which, one must
    admit, has had some scrubbing done on it in an effort to
    take it off. I suppose that bleach must be outlawed in the
    EU as a hazard, these days? Okay, truth be told, it was not
    a terrible room, just quite a comedown from what the Conrad
    had offered. The things we do for [strike]love[/strike] status.

    Also offered: a pretty standard Hilton breakfast in a rather
    nice breakfast room. The pastries were identical to those at
    the Conrad.

    lili, as a plat, got herself a huge suite at the Sheraton.
    It put to shame what Hilton gives me as a diamond. So I got
    her extra key and helped myself to the club lounge as
    often as possible. The Hilton and Sheraton are a couple
    hundred feet apart, across the half deconstructed square,
    so I became well known there.
  9. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    The Brasserie Saint-Germain wasn't open whenever I tried to
    go there, maybe vacances; a pity, as it's said to be a good
    bar with a good selection of Abbey and other local brews.

    After lolling about a while, I contacted lili, and we
    hatched a tourism plan for the day; went off to the Grande
    Place, which is actually rather pretty, but in contrast to
    cities such as London, Paris, St. Petersburg, Berlin, Munich,
    Barcelona, Moscow, Rome, Milan, Florence, Vienna, Philly,
    usw., which have a dozen must-sees, this is it for Brussels.
    And it's worth about ten minutes. All right, 't Kelderke, a
    cellar bar right on the square, is well known, so we hied
    ourselves there. Grumpy waiter who sort of warmed up later
    (especially after he took his break and had something to
    eat). I had black pudding with onions and apples, which was
    to my surprise extraordinarily good, and a dish of raw
    mussels on the half shell, some good and a few rather
    putrid. lili's caramel pork shank was very big and very
    salty - it was cured and much more like ham than the Saxon
    or Bavarian shanks we are accustomed to in their tender,
    crisp brown glory. I had a couple brews from Grimberger - a
    worthwhile Tripel and the Optimo Bruno, a mild-tasting
    rather easy to drink beverage that, one discovered later,
    has 10% alcohol. lili contented herself with a semi-tasty
    red wine that cost relatively little.

    A wander through the tiny non-renovated area of town to
    Poechenellekelder for a St. Bernardus 12o; lili had her
    standard quartino of ordinaire. This happens to be next
    door to Manneken Pis (so we got, malgre nous, to experience
    this great attraction), who on this date was obscured in
    some Tibetanish costume.

    Back to Place Rogier, where I had a Westmalle extra at the
    club lounge and a plate of fried shrimp and crudites made
    to my order by a very attentive concierge. Stella and a
    couple other beers in the cooler - better than nothing I
    suppose -, and so fortified, a quick toddle across the way
    and so to bed.
  10. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    I called on lili after a tasty Hilton breakfast. The plan -
    the Magritte museum and the Museum of Ancient Art; you get a
    combi ticket for 20% or so off.

    We started with Magritte, whose best work is elsewhere. What
    this exhibition offers is a life context for the guy and a
    threading view of the motifs that he used throughout his
    artistic output. Translation: we spent twice as much time
    here as he deserves.

    Back at the real museum next door is a pleasant cafe, where
    Westmalle 8 was a pleasant pick-me-up. lili as usual had
    vin ordinaire, which was particularly ordinaire. They serve
    food, which smelled pretty decent, but who needs it.

    Ancient art encompasses untold Flemish mediocrities
    interleaved with a dozen good Rubenses, some of the
    Breughels that you studied in art history class, and the
    great Bosch Temptation of St. Anthony. Learn from my
    experience and skip the dreck - settle for nothing less
    than David Teniers the younger and spend your major time
    on the Breughel weddings and the Bosch. It was closing time,
    and we didn't fully appreciate the really great and seminal
    pieces. Oh, yeah, the Rembrandt black guy, it's here.

    Rue de la Montagne des Herbes Potageres is signed only on
    one side. I guess the owner of A la Mort Subite must have
    ticked off the local authorities. Anyhow, lili and I found
    the Rue and proceeded up it in the anticipation of great
    lambic, but the street changed its name, and oh crap, what
    do we do now. We retraced our steps and found an unsigned
    street about 100 feet upstream, and, in fact, it was the
    right street. I guess they don't need clueless tourists,
    the place was slammed. I ordered a lambic blanche for me
    and a rouge ordinaire for lili; the former was out, the
    latter of course in infinite supply. Instead I got a gueuze,
    which was tasty but not enough for me to get another. For
    snacks, lili ordered a croque madame, which came as a
    stripped down version, essentially a ham and cheese on
    toast with an egg; I got the tartine cannibal - a lurid
    pink-orange concoction of raw beef, egg yolk mayonnaise,
    and paprika. I loved it. Toddled slowly back to the Place
    and our respective rooms.
    tom911 likes this.
  11. violist
    Original Member

    violist Gold Member

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    Hungert mich. I called lili up and proposed a trip to the
    intriguingly named Boston Steak House, in the building that
    it shares with the Sheraton and some other worthy concerns,
    including the Brussels Grill, whose menu is almost identical
    and that lili suspected of being another face of the same
    thing. I wish we'd had the time to test her hypothesis.

    A new and exciting experience: here I had the world's
    toughest ribeye. It wasn't bad tasting, but I accuse it of
    ruining my tooth (which busted altogether a week later),
    lili's burger was pretty decent, nothing special, actually
    edible washed down with the Clos de Belloc. I had Hoegaarden
    Wit but saw the light and stole a glass of her wine.

    Oh dark hundred. We walked northward to catch our train from
    the north station; unfortunately, the signage was poor and
    our eyesight not helping. Turns out we were in the bus
    station, the train station next door, but we couldn't find
    it. Eventually, we asked a burned-out old hippie backpacker,
    who pointed us in the right direction. The ticket windows,
    including the one that was lit, were empty. At least there
    were monitors with track assignments, so we found our way
    to the right one. On board, no surcharge for the tickets
    other than the Diabolo tax. In 13 minutes we were at the
    airport station, still quite a hike from the facility
    itself. Check-in was easy; security was easy, but lili got
    the secondary, while I howled with laughter. I've seen this
    numerous times. You see a dangerous reprobate traveling
    with a pure-as-the-driven-snow innocent, and who gets pulled
    over? The theory is that the terrorist is going to be clean,
    having sneaked his nefarious goods into the luggage of the
    good citizen.

    The Galleries are (is?) guarded by a formidable lounge
    dragon. Don't mind her: as with most such, if you are
    entitled to enter, you are welcomed kindly. I rather don't
    like this lounge - seems sterile and boring, but the wines
    are okay. I poured lili a glass of Ch. de Pennautier
    (Cabardes) 09, a somewhat respectable Bordeaux-style wine
    and myself a Belle-Vue kriek that was truly nasty. Snacks
    were good, including a flaky and tasty croissant.

    0307 BA 389 BRU LHR 0710 0720 319 9AC

    Another hour nothing flight. And in contrast to our outbound
    transit between T5 and T3 was a dream, leaving us plenty of
    time to enjoy the Galleries First lounge, where I passed the
    morning quaffing huge draughts of Comtes de Champagne 99, as
    it would be my last chance at the stuff for a good while.

    It's a long way to gate 42.
    tom911 likes this.
  12. tom911
    Original Member

    tom911 Gold Member

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    I was in the BA lounge at BRU 5 weeks ago. Did it look like THIS? I just had some juice and a pastry as I had 20 mins after coming over from Dublin on Aer Lingus and connecting to AA.
  13. violist
    Original Member

    violist Gold Member

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    Yep, that's it.
  14. violist
    Original Member

    violist Gold Member

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    AA 137 LHR LAX 1110 1430 777 11B

    The seat is pretty nice, and I found someone sitting in it
    when I arrived. Turns out he doesn't know B from C, no big
    deal, education isn't what it used to be. Once settled in,
    we spread out and relaxed.

    Wines drunk on this flight: Pommery Brut, nothing compared
    to what had gone before; Domaine Duclaux Chateauneuf-du-Pape
    03, utterly tasteless; Arrowood Sonoma County Cabernet
    Sauvignon, you would be thankful if it were tasteless.
    Ken Chase, you should be chased!

    On this flight a pleasant, accommodating crew.

    To Start
    Warm mixed nuts

    This was a relatively wonderful starter of shrimp and
    smoked salmon with endive. Would that the quality had kept
    up for the rest of the meal.

    Your standard frisee, pretty fresh.

    Bread Basket

    Main Course
    The filet was well nigh inedible, the cleaning fluid
    sauce, supposedly tomato-based, doing it no favors either.
    Fava beans and sun-dried tomatoes were the best thing on
    the tray. Broccoli mash was nobody's idea of fun. My
    chicken breast was not substantially better - a semi-
    hideous chunk of hard dead flesh. Its accompanying "mixed
    vegetables" were mixed unidentifiable ingredients but not
    altogether bad. Truffle mash was not brilliant but quite
    edible by comparison.

    Dine Upon Request(r)
    You may choose from one of the featured entrees to be
    served with an appetizer and dessert, presented all at
    once, at any time you wish.


    Ice Cream
    Ben & Jerry's
    I was thankful for the Ben & Jerry's chocolate brownie ice
    cream, which the FA helpfully suggested would go well with
    Bailey's drizzled on top. This actually was a pretty good

    Fruit and Cheese
    A selection of gourmet cheeses offered with fresh seasonal
    fruit and assorted crackers
    lili's cheeses appeared to be Cheddar, Gouda, and
    something else equally exciting. Of the Cheddar, she said
    that it was mild at best.

    Graham's Porto 1999 was merely okay and served along with
    some more Courvoisier as a sleep aid.

    Mid-Flight Snack
    Fruit and Cheese
    A selection of gourmet cheeses offered with fresh seasonal
    fruit and assorted crackers
    I passed.

    Assorted snack items are also available
    Spudmuckers brown bag optimus crustulum potatus obvius
    universitas potato chips savagely salted - obnoxious name
    for a packet of perfectly decent not really salty crisps.
    I was happy enough until I encountered a mouthful of sand -
    apparently the Spudmucker people are not very up on the
    niceties of quality control; thenceforth I contented myself
    with Rice Krispies Marshmallow Treats.

    More Courvoisier.

    Light Meal
    Select from

    Uno's Spinach and Garlic Pizza - A deep-dish spinach pizza
    seasoned with garlic, offered with a fresh green salad
    topped with broccoli, tomatoes and Italian herb vinaigrette

    Cold Plate Sampler - Sliced roast beef and grilled chicken
    breast offered with Asian couscous and a Greek salad

    I passed.

    A moist, rich date and coffee cake

    I passed.

    Pre-Arrival Beverage
    For Your Enjoyment

    Chilled sparkling or still water with a fresh citrus garnish

    Somehow I lost 4 hours in there; woke to find the lovely
    lili tucked neatly into her little pod, fast asleep. To
    entertain myself I hailed a passing FA and got me a Heineken
    - a somewhat pretty former blonde about my age who
    henceforth kept me in beer, first Heineken, and then when
    that ran out, Amstel. Note to self. Amstel tastes like
    battery acid diluted with pee.
    We landed a little early, and reentry was pretty easy.
    Plenty of time for a revisit to the estimable Flagship
    Lounge, where I had a much-needed shower. The soup of the
    day, tequila chicken, wasn't bad with the reinforcement of
    a glug of sherry and a few dots of hot sauce.

    And so back to the bus to the antiquated and depressing
    commuter terminal.

    AA3023 LAX SAN 1700 1750 ERJ 11B

    Quite a contrast, the seats 11B. Nonetheless, this one
    was perfectly fine for sleeping on a cute shoulder. We
    landed at the commuter terminal, so I approached the bench
    with some trepidation at Terminal 1 to try to get a gate
    pass for the RCC. No problem. Instantaneous security at T1.

    At the club, a pleasant and informative conversation with
    the staff about the future of United and the world as we
    know it. A couple Jim Beams, and speaking of sleeping I
    snoozed through from about 8 to closing time, when the
    genial desk lady very gently woke me.

    Quick security at T2.

    Being a little peckish, I headed for McDonald's, where a
    $3.99 Big Mac came to a bit over 4 and a quarter because of
    something called a "takeout tax."

    US 199 SAN CLT 2235 0552 321 2B

    Chaos at boarding. Relative order and comfort on the plane.
    I believe there may have been a snack offered, but I didn't
    notice. We landed 35 early but had to wait 15 for a guide,
    whereupon the captain made the jolly announcement "they
    finally showed up at work, so now we are going to taxi in."

    US3868 CLT IAD 0734 0850 CRJ 8A

    Another nothing flight, but I must say yet again that I
    really detest CRJs.
    travelinmike33 likes this.

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