The last day of any holiday is the worse, knowing you have to go back to reality and work. It sucks. Well, I woke up on my last day in Washington to my husband reading out an email to tell us that our flight back to the UK had been cancelled. Yes, cancelled. Argh! The email confirmed that we had been re-booked onto another flight, a Lufthansa one. This was fine, their planes are more modern than the one’s Brussels Airlines use but the caveat on this? A return via Frankfurt and a five-hour layover in Brussels…
Realising there wasn’t a lot we could do about this we set off for a morning of sightseeing before we headed to the airport. Thankfully our departure time was only 30 minutes from the original flight so we didn’t have to amend our plans too drastically. We decided to go and visit the United States Botanic Garden. Upon entering we were greeted with colour, the main atrium was full of bright yellow flowers and pumpkins of all shapes and sizes. They had some really interesting plants here including rare ones that I have never seen before like Poison Ivy. I also really enjoyed the succulent garden and the Palm House.
After a walk around here, we got the Metro to the nearest IHOP for breakfast. I have a confession to make, despite the number of times I have visited America I have never previously eaten here. This is now on my must-eat list when visiting the States alongside Panda Express. I know for most Americans these are really rubbish fast food places but they are a real treat for someone from the UK. The pancakes were amazing, they were massive and it filled me up for our long journey home.
Our flight from Dulles Airport, Washington to Brussels was pretty uneventful and before we knew it we arrived in Brussels. We decided with the amount of time we had available to see if it was viable to go into the city to see some of the sights and thankfully after a bit of googling we established it was a 20 minutes journey. We had no idea what there was to see or do in Brussels and at this point we had been up for around 20 hours and were pretty exhausted. It was late morning by the time we got into the centre. My husband got up Wikipedia on his phone and looked at the interesting sights to see. We quickly ruled out seeing the Atom, as this was a bit too far out of town and started wandering around the city.
Brussels is beautiful. It’s not anywhere I would have ever personally considered visiting previously but couldn’t stop raving about it to people afterwards. It is full of old buildings and history everywhere you look and these buildings looked even more dazzling in the sunshine. It was hot here, unseasonably warm, and we were not dressed for the weather. This, along with our tiredness, soon lead us to try to find some sort of food and refuel. Foursquare yet again came up trumps with Manhattns, a burger bar near the main Grand Place square. The food here was great and the staff made sure to cook our burgers exactly how we wanted them. We sat outside in the sunshine to eat and took in how lucky we were to able to end our holiday this way. Yes, the initial stress and worry of the cancelled flight and layover weren’t fun, but this was like another holiday on top, the icing on the cake of a fantastic few days.
We posed for a quick selfie outside the iconic Manneken Pis, otherwise known as the weeing boy. This is a small bronze statue of a small boy who is, well, weeing. I had never heard of this before but according to our quick research it was a must see when in Brussels and the crowd around it seemed to agree.
We then wandered up into the Grand Place. This is where I lost my heart to Brussels. Surrounding the square are some of the most beautiful buildings I have ever seen and nearly all of them were gold. Photos do not do justice to how stunning this square is, it takes your breath away. Of course the sunshine reflecting off the buildings helped with this so I’m not sure it would be as impressive in the Winter months. We didn’t have long to linger here which is a shame as I felt I could have stayed here forever. Everywhere I looked there was something new and beautiful to appreciate and admire.
Our flight back from Brussels was quick and thankfully on time. I had the most amazing time in Washington and Brussels but I was ready to get home and relax. Due to the cancellation and layover we arrived back in Bristol around 9 hours later than initially planned and we were both exhausted and ready for our bed. Because of the delay we complained and under the current EU Regulations this meant we were well compensated for this delay. This meant that our flights and most of our spends whilst away were covered, so our holiday turned out to be a lot cheaper than originally thought which was lovely.
I highly recommend Washington DC as a destination to visit but be aware although most of the museums are free the rest of the city is not cheap. Food and drink were expensive, along with the hotels but there is so much to see. We barely scratched the surface of what there was to see.
Visit my Flickr page for more photos from my visit to Washington DC and other trips.