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Posts Tagged ‘Brussels’

Today I travelled through three countries on a train. THREE! On the same train! And it only took 3,5 hrs! I love Europe! (Exclamation point overload).

I got on the train, Thalys, in Amsterdam, after my conference finished, and travelled through the Netherlands, Belgium and France. Final stop for me and the train: Gare du Nord, Paris. Et voila!

It was so convenient. And cheap. My second class ticket cost me EUR 35. There’s no way I could’ve found a flight that cheap. And – I got to see the landscape!

Holland, somewhere between Rotterdam and the Belgian border

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Somewhere between Antwerp and Brussels in Belgium

Coming into Gare du Nord in Paris

Coming into Gare du Nord in Paris

It would take close to 5 hrs for me to just leave the country by train if I left from Stockholm… Just saying 😉

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Coffee, coffee, coffee…how to get through a day in Brussels.

And chocolate of course!

Yesterday we had more wine than coffee as there was a conference to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Social Dialogue.

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You’ll never believe this! I went to Brussels for a meeting Tuesday afternoon, and last night I was on the plane back home. I try and fly Brussels Airlines coming home, as they land at Bromma Airport, a mere 10 min taxi ride from home.

So there I am, in seat 2A, behind a jew with an elaborately crocheted kippah (red, green and yellow, circular pattern with a star in the middle), wondering why they never said “boarding completed” when no one was boarding. Getting slightly annoyed over the delay.

Then, finally, two people got on, a man and a woman, in their 40’s. They sit down in 2D and E, but only briefly, then the woman moves to 1D and he to 2D. Ok, now I’m wondering what the heck they’re doing, because row 1 is the only Business Class row on the flight.

And that’s when I see it. Who’s seated in 1A. It’s………..the Queen! The holy Royal, mother of Victoria herself! Queen Silvia of Sweden!

Queen Silvia of Sweden

W o w! I mean, wow!!! The Queen! Three metres away from me! For two hours! This even beats that time in the 90’s when she and the King cut in line and rode on the skilift in front of me in Åre.

I wonder what she was doing in Brussels? It’s honestly never occurred to me that they’d fly with us mortals. I guess I’ve always just assumed they have a plane of their own. My bad. She can’t have been on any major official business, because she wasn’t all done up. Wearing a white blouse and a pink knitted sweater, and in her hair she had the kind of hair clip I use when I have a shower and don’t want to get my hair wet!

She was reading a book, don’t know which, but she kept a pen in hand, for underlining, so I guess it wasn’t fiction.

She was served her meal on real china, but that was probably just because she was in Business Class, couldn’t tell as the guy in front of me, the only other passenger in BC, got what looked like a pizza carton. Upon closer inspection (of the reflection in the window) I saw it was a Kosher meal – it said so in capitals on the top. I have no idea what it included. No pizza though!

Our beautiful Queen!

I guess it’s not so strange she flies to Bromma come to think of it – it’s about as far to their palace from there as it is to mine 🙂

A colleague of mine came up and chatted for a bit, standing in the aisle, and the guards/keepers or whatever they are were clearly suspicious and uncomfortable with it.

I wonder what it must be like, living her life. Can’t be fun. She looked lonely, if anything. Especially when getting off the plane. It was like a scene out of a movie: it was a brisk -8 C, there was a light snowfall, and a sleek black car was pulled up next to the plane, and there she was – the first one off the plane, walking down the rackety stairs, into the beams from the waiting car, just a lonely silhouette walking into the light.

And that was that – my “meeting” with the Queen!

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I returned from my “training camp” at Gran Canaria (GC) in the wee hours of Thursday last week. Today I’ve arrived back from Brussels where I spent the night, and in between there A and I have spent two nights down south, in his hometown. I’ve covered a lot of ground in the past week. And now I’m knackered. It’s as if the three weeks of “relaxation” never happened! Fascinating.

Before I set off for GC I went to see a new doctor for a second opinion of my knee issues etc. She had X-rays taken of my knee, and I went to get the results on Friday morning. My physiotherapist had gotten me thinking that perhaps it was actually a problem with the meniscus or something, seeing as I didn’t get at all better during my training. Sadly, it was not. Instead I can now add Osteoarthritis to my list of diagnosed conditions 😦 Life is unfair.

After getting this blow, we decided the knee should be drained (as usual), to relieve the pressure. But something went seriously wrong. It’s usually not painful at all. Well, a normal person would find it painful, but I’m so used to it, and know what a relief it is after, so I almost like it. However, I did not enjoy this. I don’t know what happened, and neither did the doctor, but she must’ve been messing with a nerve inside the knee somehow – I just screamed. Right out loud. And my eyes were like fountains. It was instant, the pain that is. The procedure lasted at least a minute, throughout which I continued screaming, and the poor Doc panicked more and more. Unfortunately she couldn’t get to the “pockets” of fluid, so she had to withdraw and enter the knee from the other side as well. By then I was almost hyper ventilating and expecting the worst, but it went well and she drained the knee of 45 ml of excess fluid. Good lord – some morning.

A few hours after my visit to the hospital we set off for Karlskrona – a beautiful town in the south of Sweden, and one that I will come to spend more time in than I’d ever have guessed one year ago. Like I mentioned, it’s A’s hometown. Just how beautiful can it be? This beautiful:

We spent a week there in the summer, but this time we were southbound to celebrate A’s dad’s 60th Birthday. I think I’ve mentioned earlier that I’ve actually known A’s dad for a few years (maybe even as many as four), and therefore it was really great to get to meet his side of the family, his siblings etc. It was especially fun to see their faces when I told them that I in fact knew him before I knew A, and I believe their approval of me grew even stronger when they realized I in fact work with him – their brother. 🙂 Or at least that’s how I’d like to think it went down.

At the party I was called a “playmate”/toy by one older man, and a guy (my age) who I’ve met several times before said he hoped for my sake the glasses I was wearing weren’t mine. Well, thanks a lot buddy. Asswife. He’s a singer (and a good one at that), but he instantly lost himself a future gig upon uttering those words…

It was a good weekend, but far too short and busy for the, in total, 1100 km we drove for it. Next time we’ll stay a few days longer, over New Year’s, which I hope we’re spending with A’s best friend and his family. We stayed at their lovely new home when we were down, and I hope to do it again!

And now…I’ve spent the last two days in Brussels. No rest for the wicked, eh? I’ve been there for a full-day meeting, that started at 9 am this morning. That’s a too early start for me to make it there the same day (first flight’s at 7 am, getting me to central Brussels at 10 am), so I have to fly the day before and stay over. Bummer. But I get to have breakfast at my favourite place – Tout Bon at Place de Luxembourg – and feel the international atmosphere as well as buy chocolate. And lots of it. Today, about EUR 70 worth…oops. Most at Neuhaus, as usual.

Mm...the best breakfast there is! Can't wait to take A here.

I haven’t been here since February, as two of our meetings were moved forward to dates I wasn’t able to go, so it’s a real treat to be back! It’s such a beautiful city, but in a great way. People were quite rude last night though, and that was a bit unexpected, so I still wasn’t thrilled. Until I got to my hotel which had been renovated since I was last there – very nice!

The City Hall (?) at Grand Place in Brussels

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Mullet of the decade

The decade’s about to end, and in what better way than with a display of Europe’s finest…mullet?! Check this baby out, on display at Gare du Midi (Brussels süd) this afternoon.

Oh baby, I'd love to get my hands on her pic!

And......in action!

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I’ve popped down to Brussels for the night. Have a full day meeting tomorrow that starts at 9 am, which is too early in terms of getting here in time from Stockholm. So I had to fly down tonight. Bummer, as I have so much to do, both at work and at home. The good thing is that there’s a tub, and I passed by a Lush for a “butter bomb” on my way here. I only have a shower at home, so I try to enjoy a bath whenever I’m in a hotel. Also – the chocolate and beer is divine. In my glass there is currently Leffe Bruin, and I have two bars of Galler chocolate in the fridge…yum!

Unfortunately I also have a very stuffed nose. The price you pay for crusing around town in your celebratory golden tights in spite of the cold weather, I suppose. Oh well, the team, MY team, is worth it!

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New blog header – the skyline of Brussels where I’m headed yet again. Another meeting in our European organisation, GEOPA, but there’ll no doubt be lots of discussions on the outcome of the European elections as well. I will without a doubt be hitting both Neuhaus and Godiva, not to mention the world’s best breakfast place Tout Bon and our favourite watering hole – les Brasseurs de la Grand Place. Y U M !!! Back home late tomorrow night.

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