Landgraaf, The Netherlands to Antwerp, Belgium (via Brussels)

11 August 2017

Refreshed from our quiet night in Holland we were ready for Friday funday and the weekend. The rain continued but we were not going to let it dampen our spirits. Every time I thought about complaining about the cooler wetter weather I remembered the hotter than hell heat in Vienna and how I vowed to never complain about being cold again.
We crossed into our final country of the holiday, country 10, by lunch and as we entered Belgium the sun came out. We’ve driven through Belgium a lot and passed by Brussels, never stopping, although we have considered it many times. The only real camping/ stopover possibility in Brussels is in Molenbeek and with all the news stories of the area we don’t think it’s somewhere desirable to stay.

Brussels does however have a Hard Rock Cafe and it really needed ticking off on my map of Cafe visits so we couldn’t drive passed again without stopping. With a bit of looking Neil found a Motorhome parking area in a village football club with a bus ride into Brussels centre. We decided to make this a lunchtime trip then move on to find a safer overnight stop.

The little village we parked up in had major road works right through the centre, we were able to get to the parking but there was no way a bus would be coming by. After reading the complicated bus diversion sign we worked out where the temporary bus stop and just as we got there a bus pulled up.
A short bus ride and we arrived in the centre, it felt very multicultural and for the first time all holiday we felt a little nervous. Keeping our belonging safe with handbag in one hand and the other not letting go of Lucy we navigated the busy pavements through the shopping region avoiding beggars and immigrants.

Once we hit the more tourist area of bars and restaurants we felt more at ease and I even let go of Lucy’s hand. Walking passed restaurants we were greeting by each, everyone offering us their deal of the day and offering drinks, we finally gave in and had lunch in a lovely little cafe where every dish was €10 including a beer. Neil finally got his moules and frittes and Lucy had a big steak, all was good.

After lunch it was a quick dash to see the Manneken Pis (little boy peeing) which is smaller in real life than you’d imagine and then into the Hard Rock Cafe for a cocktail to collect my souvenir glass.

We did consider walking back through the jungle of beggars and immigrants to get our bus back to the van but as an Uber was available we went for this option.

From Brussels we drove the short trip to Antwerp for our night stopover. The aire in Antwerp is an old campsite which is now run by volunteers as a campercar parking, it’s slightly run down but was perfect for our needs. Unfortunately they had recently cut the grass before we arrived and after a little rain my van became full of the stuff, the Hoover would be on overtime.

Opposite the campsite we found huge playing fields to walk the dogs, Dug went nuts running round while Rory did his best to avoid him. Worn out we dropped them back to the van to sleep.
Once settled and plugged in with aircon on we headed out for the evening into Antwerp. Another short enjoyable bus trip took us right into the centre and actually dropped us at the door of the newly opened Hard Rock Cafe, today would be a double Hard Rock visit day.

Cocktails drunk, glass and pin purchased and photos taken Antwerp Hard Rock Cafe was ticked off the list.

A bit of sight seeing followed along with tat shopping before looking for somewhere to eat. During our meal in a nice little restaurant we happened to notice lots of rainbow flags hanging out of shop and bar windows then I spotted a Antwerp Pride poster, we were in Antwerp for gay pride weekend. Once we realised we did spot a few gay couples but nothing like UK Pride events, there were actually more straight people at their event.
The main street was busy with a DJ and a real party atmosphere even the soldiers with their guns were joining in.

The local Irish pub was showing the first Premiership game of the season and we had prime seats right in front of a large screen, as the pub began filling up we decided to give up our seats to real football fans as we weren’t actually fussed about Arsenal or Leicester.

We managed to find the right bus stop and our bus pulled up right on cue and we were beck to our van in no time. We watched the second half of the football on the TV, this was the first time our TV had been on all holiday.
Overnight Location: Antwerp, Belgium

Overnight Cost: €10

Overnight Coordinates: 51.19036°N 4.40252°E

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