Subject: Re: Brussels
Hi Margaret,

You asked about Brussels. I think that this city has a reputation problem. So many people I know who have been there have said that they did not like it. I have been twice and I have to admit that the first time I went I did not like it either (mind you, it was only a day trip from London). That time, it seemed run down and kind of dull to me, especially in comparison to some of the other surrounding major European cities such as Paris and Amsterdam.

B U T when I was there over the Christmas break I really enjoyed it! I have totally revised my opinion. First of all, the place where I stayed was lovely and it was located in an attractive upscale neighbourhood (Louise-Bailli) which I possibly would never have discovered on my own. It was south of the centre, and had good shops and very pleasant restaurants and cafes. And to me, what is always important is that there are nice walks around, and there were. So if you have a chance itís worth exploring that area, an easy tram ride from the centre on trams 91, 92, 93 or 94.

The Grand Place was as lovely as ever.. there was an unusual Christmas display with a variety of transluscent plastic life-size animals which glowed with different colours; there was also a nativity scene with real animals. I particularly remember walking around the square at about 6:00am one morning after the night train from Berlin arrived, and there was *nobody* about ń a true rarity for the Grand Place!

Always interested in European issues, I wanted to explore the European Union area of the city. I have to say I was quite disappointed. I found the architecture of the new buildings to be uninspiring and bombastic, and totally out of scale with the surroundings. But I still managed to find some lovely little quarters nearby and had the requisite frites-mayonnaise at one of Brusselsí top stands.

The Belgian railways were great to use. Frequent trains, and so fast. September sounds like a nice month to go. It was *freezing* in December, much colder than when I left Toronto!

Let me know if you have any specific questions and Iíll try to help.

Regards, Will