Thursday, 14 July 2016

Still in Brussels...

After finishing writing my last post I headed out in search of some dinner. In a way I was spoilt for choice, but with such variety often comes disaster as what can only be described as culinary Russian roulette took place. I passed by a number of good places, one being a steak house, which I've never been keen on, plus a couple of bars, a German restaurant and an Indian restaurant (of which, more later). In the end I settled for an Italian restaurant, one of those places that offers a laminated menu. It was pretty standard Italian fayre: pizza, pasta, minestrone soup and so on, and would have been wonderful had I opted for something simple, like a pizza and a beer. But no, I went for the grilled salmon, which, to be fair, was pretty simple – the sort of thing I'd eat at home with mashed potato and green beans. I had a minestrone soup to start, which was very good, paving the way, perhaps, for a decent main course, but no, the salmon was undercooked and 'slushy' in the middle, just the way I hate it. The last time I ate salmon like this I think it may have contributed to my 100-yard sprint to the toilet along Pittsburgh's Penn Avenue back in May. That, my friends, could have been very embarrassing as there was no way I was going to get to my room. I had to hope there was nobody in the public toilets on the ground floor – there wasn't – but somebody did enter the room as I was in full flow, so to speak. Fortunately, they left before I emerged, meaning that I retained my anonymity.

But getting back to Brussels, and moving away from the subject of poo, the meal in the Italian restaurant – I won't name it simply because I've already given it a bad review on Trip Advisor and don't wish to rub salt into the wound – was, I suppose, disappointing. I finished off with Tiramisu, which was fine, but way too much. I ate half of it and then paid up, making the big mistake of leaving my jacket on the back of my seat and not realising until the following morning as I packed my suitcase. Fortunately, it was still there at lunch time (complete with my return Eurostar ticket) when I went back and retrieved it, feeling slightly guilty about that bad review, even if it was at least 48 hours away from being published. Look, I'll be honest, it wasn't a bad restaurant and had I not had that under-cooked salmon I would probably have given it a good review, but that salmon being under-cooked annoyed me, prompting my rather vitriolic prose.

Spicy Grill – the best Indian restaurant... in the world!
Because this was a whistle stop trip of just one night – the very worst kind of trip – there's not really a great deal to say about anything as I didn't really do a great deal. Normally, when there's a couple of days involved, I get around the town a bit, I use the bike share scheme, and I generally 'do stuff', but not on this trip. I spent the morning 'on business' and then, after picking up my jacket from the Italian restaurant around noon, I wandered around looking for somewhere to have lunch. I opted for a place called The Spicy Grill, an Indian restaurant where I sat and enjoyed poppadums, a naan bread, chicken jalfrezi and Bombay aloo, not forgetting pilau rice and a cold beer – perfect! I've reviewed The Spicy Grill on Trip Advisor (they have been given a glowing review for food, service and ambience of the highest order). In fact, I think I've found the best Indian restaurant... in the world!

Suitably refreshed I walked back to my hotel, which was no more than five minutes away on foot, retrieved my suitcase from the storage room on the ground floor, wrote the aforementioned Trip Advisor review for The Spicy Grill and then took the train from Schuman to Brussels Midi where I found time for a mug of English Breakfast tea and a Danish pastry. I could have done without the pastry. I met a man from Holland on his way to a Star Wars Convention in London. "I have the full Darth Vader costume in my case," he said proudly and I wished him well.

Soon I found myself en route to the UK in coach 3, seat 88. I had two seats to myself all the way back. We stopped at Lille and then Ashford in Kent and soon I was back on the platform at St Pancras International reading all about how Michael Gove finally got his come uppance for his treachery and was sacked alongside other 'villains' George 'we're all in this together' Osborne and Oliver 'I'm straight out of Dickens' Letwin, but sadly not Jeremy Hunt, who retains his incompetent ministerial role of Health Secretary.

Kwack beer at the Spicy Grill – wooferama!
I travelled across town on the tube and jumped on a direct train home from where I now write.

I know there's been issues with terrorism, but I like Brussels. The presence of soldiers at Brussels Midi was, as I said yesterday, reassuring. There's some pleasant little eateries around the European Commission area and you really can't beat Belgian beer. I enjoyed a Chimay Bleu last night at the Italian and at lunch time today a Kwack beer followed by another Chimay. Needless to say I was suitably chilled out for the rest of the afternoon.

On the Eurostar home a cup of tea and a bottle of mineral water sufficed. The rest of the time – it only takes two hours 'door-to-door' – I gazed out of the window at sunny green fields and cotton wool clouds.

For me the only disappointing element about my trip to Brussels was the fact that the UK voted to leave the European Union. I felt kind of guilty about it, even though I voted to remain and it wasn't my fault. Guilty and, of course, depressed. I felt even more depressed when I learned, late last night, that Boris Johnson had been appointed Foreign Secretary. That means that Johnson, an overweight, bumbling buffoon of a man, is a kind of PR man for the United Kingdom – he is being put forward as the face of the cuntry. Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond must be seething, and rightly so. I wouldn't put it past the Scots to vote out in a second referendum to go it alone, and who could blame them?

What hope is there for the United Kingdom if the rest of the world thinks we're all like Boris. But let's not forget the chant of the Brexiteers: "Let's make Great Britain great again!" Somehow I don't think so.

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