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After a day of enforced rest, my knee was improving, which was fortunate as we had to change hotels.

Our original plans had involved trips to Waterloo, Bruges and the Herge museum but these all needed to be changed once I injured my knee. However, we had only booked into our hotel (Brussels Hotel, Avenue Louise) for the first three nights, anticipating spending a couple of nights away from Brussels, and now the hotel was full.

So this morning, after assessing my knee, we booked a hotel right in the heart of Brussels, Hotel Opera (Rue Gerty, 53) and preceded to pack our bags. The journey to the hotel was complicated by the Brussels Marathon which was taking place this morning. Several roads and tram routes were closed so we took a slow, roundabout route to the hotel. My knee bearing up remarkably well despite the perils of escalators and the stop-start nature of public transport.

After depositing our bags we went around the corner to Delirium for much needed refreshment. This bar is a beer drinkers paradise and a must-see for any tourist in Brussels with a taste for interesting drinks. In 2004 it gained the world record for having the most different types of beer on sale at one time, 2004 of them to be exact. I just had one, the Rodenbach Grand Cru, a bizarre but incredible beer. There really is nothing like it.

Suitably anesthetised we wandered around the narrow streets near the Grand Place and ended up in the La Boutique Tintin, just off the Grand Place. Whilst full of all things Tintin, I expected more from a Tintin shop in the heart of Tintin country. It had a fair amount of clothes and Tintin memorabilia but not a massive range.

It did have a few Tintin / Herge related books I was not aware of (all in French of course) and a good selection of the albums in a variety of languages. I picked up a facsimile edition of Tintin Au Congo and may go back tomorrow for more.

Then it was time for a waffle and back to the hotel. Tonight, we shall probably visit Delirium again. This is only because my knee won’t carry me any further and nothing to do with the 2000+ beers we haven’t tried yet….

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Day two was all about getting our money’s worth from our Brussels Card by visiting some key museums.

Braving the tram for the first time, we headed into the city centre and the Musee Magritte Museum. After some slight confusion we got into the museum (Tip: If you have a Brussels Card, go straight to the museum itself, not the ticket office in the fine art museum) not long after opening. This is recommended as it seemed to be filling up by the time we were leaving.

The museum itself was slightly disappointing. Whilst I did learn more about his life and some of his less famous works, the presentation was poor. The galleries are dark with spotlights illuminating the works. This often produced glare and the low lighting meant it was harder to read the associated information.

The exhibition also lacked most of his famous works. It may be a bit crass to only want to see an artist’s greatest hits but the exhibition does promote itself with classic Magritte imagery. Overall, worth a visit but not a must-see.

Next door, however, at the Musees royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique we had a delightful time. The range of works is not as impressive as the great UK galleries but there is a good selection, well presented, from across the history of art. We ended up spending far more time in the gallery than we planned.

After a spot of lunch and beer at a nearby cafe, we headed to the Centre Belge de la Bande Dessinee. This small museum starts by describing how comics are made before going on to show case the works by fifteen or so key Belgium writers/artists. Herge and Tintin unsurprisingly get their own section but the other creators are not eclipsed. Obviously most of what is on show is not in English and nearly all the comics were unfamiliar to me but it was interesting and wonderful that comics are celebrated by their own museum. The museum is topped off by a great bookshop / gift shop.

Now back out the hotel and planning to go out for food and beer later. Tomorrow we plan a gentle day visiting breweries and shopping before visiting the Herge museum on Sunday.

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A quick write-up of our on-going trip Belgium.

The Eurostar is brilliant, especially when your journey starts in Nottingham. A quick change at St. Pancras station and we’re on our way to Belgium. Total journey time was about seven hours and a lot less hassle than flying and loads more leg room.

Staying at the Brussels Hotel on the Avenue Louise. A basic hotel but reasonably priced, fairly central and has free Wifi. Recommended.

Arrived in the evening so after checking-in, we went for walk to find our bearings and get a drink in the Cafe Du Art in the Flagey Square.

In the morning we walked into the city and the Grand-Place to buy a Brussels Card which allows us to access museums and travel on the trams / metro / buses for free. I’m not 100% sure it is worthwhile but it has made life easier and prompted us to ride the metro out to the Parc du Cinquantenaire.

We went into the Musee De L’Armee Et De L’Historie Militaire expecting to quickly move on. However it was fascinating and had a great exhibition on the period 1919 – 1945. The aircraft collection was good but that side of the museum is clearly under-funded. I wish we had more time to spend there but we needed to get on.

Across the park is the Musee Du Cinquantenaire which was our main reason for visiting the park. With only an hour before closing time we had to rush to find the statue that inspired Herge to create The Broken Ear. It is an unassuming wooden carving, about a foot tall, almost exactly like the one in the book except that it has a broken foot and both ears are OK.

The rest of the museum was not very inspiring though we did not give it the time it deserved. It is a collection of objects in glass cases with little explanation or background information. It does have a head from Easter Island which was very impressive (and looked exactly like the one in the film Night of the Museum).

The museum did had a couple of great finds though. An Inca mummy, very likely to be the inspiration for the mummy in The Seven Crystal Balls. Plus a book for sale in the museum shop ‘Le Musee En Bulles’ which details items in the museum that inspire various comics. More on this later.

After the museum closed we walked to the bar Galia (22 Rue de Jacques Laling) for some beer and then to Ultime Atome (14 Rue St. Boniface) for beer and food. Both excellent bars with a great range of beers and we found both due to the Good Beer Guide Belgium by Tim Webb. It is a great book with an amusing but informative style. Highly recommended for anyone interested in Belgium Beers.

We are now back at the hotel, tired but satisfied with a day being tourists. Tomorrow is a trip to the new Magritte museam and then on to the Centre Belge de la Bande Dessinee.