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Adrienne Smith, the Constant Traveler: Bemused in Brussels PDF Print Email


By Adrienne Smith


Mar. 23, 2016:  I woke up yesterday morning to news of bombings throughout Brussels. This really hit home, for, you see, I was there three weeks ago and came back with some negative feelings.

You, my readers, know that I enthuse about almost every place I write about, but, for some reason, Brussels left me literally and figuratively cold.

I decided to stay in the city for four days on my way to a longer sojourn in the hauntingly lovely Bruges. The hotel I chose, Hôtel des Galeries, was a wonderful boutique hotel with its own gourmet restaurant. But its location came to symbolize the divisiveness that is the area.

If, exiting the hotel, I turned to the right onto the rue des Bouchers, I was greeted by a long line of second-rate restaurants, whose employees, in very un-European fashion, practically grabbed me to try their cooking, all a bit like walking through the cosmetics counters in New York's Saks Fifth Avenue. It was so unpleasant that I made every effort to circumvent the area.

If, instead, I turned left, I came almost instantly to one of the most charming areas in Brussels, the Galerie du Roi, a marvelous Victorian covered shopping alley, open at both ends, and loaded with luxury shops, primarily selling gourmet chocolates for which the country is famous. 

Beyond my immediate vicinity, the city itself was surprisingly bleak. Uninspired gray, institutionally designed buildings lined the streets. Nothing like Paris. Nor did the people walking the streets exude any kind of Parisian elegance. Yes, there was a pleasant art museum, a part of which was closed, and numerous Art Nouveau buildings, one of which I toured after standing in a cold rain outside for almost an hour. 

But what I did spend a great deal of time in were the railroad stations servicing the city. The Gare Centrale was a few blocks from my hotel, more a suburban and metro outlet than a full-service hub, but handy for my day-trip out to Antwerp. 

More like one of our stations, the Gare du Midi is the location for international and some domestic destinations. I took a Thalys train to Paris from there on an ill-advised day-trip as well as the Eurostar to London. 

Let me tell you about the Gare du Midi. It's quite huge, the station itself, along with many boutiques and food outlets, at ground level, and escalators and stairs up one level to the actual train tracks. It's completely open at both ends, so, on the day I went to Paris, when, unfortunately, an electrical problem at a key station messed up all train schedules, I logged a significant amount of time waiting for my trains.

Because of the station's open-air design, it was extremely cold inside. Add to this that, on my return from Paris, awaiting a train to Bruges, I had to spend a late-evening hour and a half there.

Most of the people in the terminal appeared to be going nowhere, and I felt somewhat uncomfortable. They were of mixed ethnicity, the result of Belgium's unfortunate colonial heritage. In addition, large groups of drunken lads roamed around, tossing empty beer bottles and otherwise disrupting what little peace there was. Police presence was quite minimal, nothing like what we find at Grand Central, and the few there seemed to turn a blind eye to the disorder in the station.

In fact, for a city that was at that time most probably the hideout of the number-one terrorist in Europe, it struck me as somewhat strange that security was so lax both at the station and throughout Brussels. In contrast, Paris had been teeming with police presence, including machine-gun-carrying personnel at the Gare du Nord and on the Champs-Elysées.

Have I made you eager to book a trip to Brussels? Probably not. But what I saw on a very superficial level may somewhat suggest what occurred yesterday morning. It's just terrible!

Pictured here:  Galerie du Roi in Brussels.

Photo by Adrienne Smith

 

 

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#6 DATE_FORMAT_LC1
One other thing, when I write, I take responsibility for what I say by including my name. I think it's both cowardly and journalisticall y improper for commenters to fail to include their names!!
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#5 DATE_FORMAT_LC1
To SHAME: Yes, the article certainly could have been better composed but time was short. Point I wanted to make was that, given the terrorism shadow over Brussels at the time, and given its international importance as location of NATO and EU headquarters, security seemed quite lax, I think recent news reports have made the same point. I don't think that's kicking when someone's down. It's just pointing out the perceived situation.
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#4 DATE_FORMAT_LC1
Yet another odd and poorly written article from the author and in this case disgusting in that after a terrorist attack she issues her own peculiar brand of tourist criticism. Shame on her and shame on the editors who continue to publish her articles and who chose to publish this particular piece at this time. Shame, shame, shame.
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#3 DATE_FORMAT_LC1
Brussels is not Paris. In my opinion, that is like comparing NYC to Minneapolis. Brussels is not really a tourist city. Belgium is a pretty little country, that from a tourist standpoint, is a place where you spend a couple days in Brussels see a few sights and then pop by Brugge. Brussels is a work city similar to Milan, Munich or Dusseldorf. Although Brussels does have some great restaurants. After this attack I think US tourist should make an effort to visit. It will help their economy and send a message to the ISIS savages that we are not afraid of them!
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#2 DATE_FORMAT_LC1
I was in Brussels almost 2 years ago and my experience was quite
different than the one depicted in this article. Welcoming people, fabulous food, quaint streets, restaurants and pubs, and a Market Square that is truly magnificent. Wish I could have stayed longer to explore more of the city and surrounding area. But, I do agree that Bruges is magical - no other place like it.
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#1 DATE_FORMAT_LC1
Nothing like hitting someone when they're down. Imagine if right after 9/11 someone from Europe wrote "I never liked the Twin Towers anyways."
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Bayside Travel Wins Small Business Award from '914INC.' Magazine

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  By Sally Winston, Bayside Travel Sep. 20, 2017:   Bayside Travel won a 2017 Small Business Award from 914INC., a Westchester magazine. The agency is honored to have won in the category...

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Vacations, Day Trips & Getaways Directory

Day Trips

The High Line

Urban Adventure! Have you been to the High Line yet? It is the park located on Manhattan's West Side that runs from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District to 34th Street, between 10th & 11th Avenues. It is a fun place to see and a nice place to take a walk before dinner at one of the many cool meatpacking district restaurants!  They have ongoing events.  Click here to learn more. www.thehighline.org/events/all/2010/10


Hike Leatherman's Loop in the Ward Pound Ridge Reservation Plus Lunch Ideas

NOTHING LIKE A GREAT HIKE AND A GREAT OUTING RIGHT IN OUR BACKYARD! There is a beautiful hike called the Leatherman's Loop within the Ward Pound Ridge Reservation. It brings you up to Point Lookout with an incredible view over the Cross River Reservoir. Pick up a trial map at the entrance.  Bring a picnic or go for a morning hike then hop back in your car and continue south on Rt. 121, for approx. 2 or 3 miles, to Richard Gere's restaurant Bedford Post for lunch.....very nice and casual hiking clothes are fine. 


Katonah Museum of Art Plus Lunch Ideas

There are always great exhibits the Katonah Museum of Art called Mapping: Memory and Motion in Contemporary Art. This museum is a gem! Closed Mondays. Fun learning center for kids. Click here for more information. http://www.katonahmuseum.org/

Have lunch in Katonah (right out of driveway and immediate left on Jay Street) at The Blue Dolphin Diner (Great Italian) or Willy Nicks (American). 

From the Museum you can also easily get to Bedford Post. 


 

 

 

Travel Service Companies

Bayside Travel

Bayside Travel is a full service travel agency specializing in leisure travel. It has been in business over 55 years and is located in Bronxville NY. The company's travel consultants are experts in the art of travel, and offer their firsthand travel experience to their clients. Through Bayside Travel's membership in Virtuoso, an organization of the top travel agencies, the finest travel providers, and premier destinations in the world, their clients will have the priviledge of receiving exclusive amenities not available to the general public, such as complimentary breakfast, room upgrades, one of a kind shore excursions. Bayside Travel will make a difference in the way you experience travel. Contact one of their consultants today.  

69 Pondfield Road
Bronxville, NY 10708
914 833- 8880

http://www.luxurytravelservice.com/


Herzerl Tours

Let me tell you a little bit about Herzerl Tours and then you will agree that we are a very good choice for tours to Austria, Northern Italy, Germany and Switzerland !

We believe in doing tours to places that we know well - have lived there or visited there - so that we can give our clients the best for their money.

Susanne Servin, owner of Herzerl Tours is a native of Vienna, Austria; she has lived in Europe and traveled there extensively. She started her company to share her experiences with Americans by taking them to tour her birthplace and other favorite spots of hers.

Herzerl Tours Philosophy: we offer destinations that are very well known to us -where we have stayed and know the people- the owners, chefs, vintners and guides etc. personally.We only organize small, intimate tour groups (or mini groups / FIT's) to enable personal contact such as the use of traditional public transportation as much as possible, meeting and talking with locals (most of whom speak some English), listening to their music; learning to cook the local cuisine and pairing it with local wines, eating in typical restaurants - avoiding the known "touristy" venues. This will give the tour participants a chance to find out what the country of their choice is really all about.


Susanne Marie Servin
914-771-8558
sms@herzerltours.com  

www.herzerltours.com  


Valerie Wilson Travel, Inc.

Headquartered in New York City, with an international client base and 15 offices, Valerie Wilson Travel offers its clients first-hand knowledge and dedicated service. The company is owned by a Bronxville family and has a network of 315+ highly specialized Travel Advisors and Associate Agents who each bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the company and its clients.  VWT services a global clientele for both business and personal travel.   It handles the travel management needs for companies and organizations in a diverse array of industries, from fashion and finance to publishing and pharmaceuticals.

475 Park Avenue South

New York, New York 10016

212-532-3400

800-776-1116

Fax: 212-779-7073

Email: info@vwti.com

http://valeriewilsontravel.squarespace.com/

 

Vacation Ideas

The Four Seasons Washington

Enjoy a weekend in Washington, DC during Cherry Blossom Season (late March/early April). Stay at the Four Seasons Washington, an elegant hotel that is part of the Four Seasons chain. Located right in the center of Georgetown, the hotel is “great for kids” providing welcoming touches in the room (confetti, yellow duck, balloons, cookies) as well as an indoor pool. Enjoy everything that Washington has to offer.

2800 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20007
202-342-0444


Martha’s Vineyard

Escape to the Martha’s Vineyard for a week or weekend in the summer. Enjoy the beaches and all the great activities the Vineyard has to offer. If not renting a house or staying with friends, consider staying at the Hob Knob , a “casually elegant boutique hotel” in Edgartown.

128 Main Street Box 239
Edgartown, Mass 02539
508-627-9510
www.hobknob.com


Mayflower Inn and Spa

Robert and Adriana Mnuchin discovered the Mayflower Inn in 1992 and set about restoring the Inn to its former glory. This included traveling across Europe to obtain “the very best in Old World art and artifacts.” If you are in need of some quiet time with your wife or husband, this might be the place for you. No children under 12 are allowed. They have beautiful rooms and a restful spa.

118 Woodbury Road, Route 47
Washington, Connecticut 06793
860-868-9466
www.mayflowerinn.com


Mohonk Mountain House

If you’re looking for a family getaway, the Mohonk Mountain House might be for you. It is a historic hotel that, depending on the time of year, offers many activities including hiking, tennis, lake swimming, ice skating, cross country skiing and horseback riding, They also offer a Kids Club and a “Kids Stay Free” program on specific days throughout the year.

1000 Mountain Rest Road
New Paltz, New York 12561
800-722-6646 (reservations)


Mont Tremblant Ski Resort

Mont Tremblant Ski Resort makes for a ski vacation with an international flair. Best of all, you can combine great skiing with site seeing in beautiful Quebec and create a family ski vacation that is a little different from most. There are many ski-in, ski-out hotels and condominiums right on the mountain.

www.Tremblant.ca.


Nantucket

The beautiful island of Nantucket is a wonderful place for a vacation or getaway. If you aren’t staying with friends or renting a house, consider staying at the Wauwinet, a premiere waterfront resort on the island. The Inn offers attractive rooms along with private beach, spa, tennis and fine dining at its Topper’s restaurant. in Nantucket. The Inn’s also has an excellent restaurant called Topper’s.

508-228-0145
www.wauwinet.com


Newport

A weekend or vacation in Newport, Rhode Island is always fun. Depending on your mood, consider staying at the Castle Hill Inn and Resort, which was built in 1874 as a summerhouse and has a variety of accommodations including rooms right on the beach or The Chanler at Cliff Walk, which was voted “one of the 15 best new luxury hotels in the world” by Food & Wine (2003). Your weekend can include a Mansion Tour, Cliff Walk, tennis on the grass courts of the Tennis Hall of Fame and, depending on the time of year, a jazz festival, folk festival or flower show.

Castle Hill Inn & Resort
590 Ocean Drive
Newport, Rhode Island 02840.

The Chanler at Cliff Walk
117 Memorial Boulevard
Newport, Rhode Island 02840
401-372-2578
www.thechanler.com
888-466-1355
www.castlehillinn.com


Skytop Lodge

The historic Skytop Lodge, located in the Pocono Mountains, is “fun for little kids.” The Lodge offers a variety of accommodations and a myriad of activities for children and adults during both the winter and summer. It also offers morning and afternoon camps for children ages 4 to 10.

Skytop Lodge
One Skytop
Skytop, Pennsylvania 18357
800-345-7759
www.skytop.com


The Hamptons

Many people who go to the Hamptons own a house or rent one, but, if you don’t plan to “summer” there, you might consider spending a weekend either in season or just before or after the season - - such as early fall when pumpkins have replaced corn at the farm stands and the summer crowd has returned home. It is a beautiful part of the world and offers pristine beaches, wine tasting, cycling, kayaking, tennis, great window shopping and fine dining. Consider staying at The Maidstone, a historic Inn which is walking distance to downtown East Hampton.

The Maidstone
207 Main Street
East Hampton, New York 11937
631-324-5006

http://www.themaidstone.com/


The Homestead

The Homestead is America’s oldest destination resort. Located in the mountains of Virginia, the resort is “steeped in the rich and timeless tradition of Southern hospitality” and offers every activity imaginable for adults and children. Take a closer look!

1766 Homestead Drive
Hot Springs, Virginia 22445
Reservations: 866-354-4653

www.thehomestead.com


Woodstock Inn & Resort

If you’re looking for something to do for a week during the Holidays, consider the Woodstock Inn & Resort. Located in the heart of lovely Woodstock, the Inn offers easy access to skiing at Suicide Six. You can also enjoy a sleigh ride or spend time in the low-key athletic facility that includes tennis courts and an indoor pool. Finally, you can walk to town for dinner and simply enjoy the beautiful scenery.

Fourteen The Green
Woodstock, Vermont 05091-1298
802-457-1000
www.woodstockinn.com


A Bar A Ranch

Plan ahead if you want to stay at the A Bar A Ranch in Wyoming. Families come back year after year and it can be difficult to get a reservation. Located in Encampment, Wyoming, the A Bar A offers simple phone-free cabins, fun riding, great fly fishing and the opportunity to relax. They also have a small pool, one tennis court and a quirky golf course if you can’t leave those clubs at home. Many of the summer staff are college-age men and women (many from the south) who are there to help you with a smile. Finally, the A Bar A offers a camp for kids age four and up.

Encampment, Wyoming 82325
307-327-5454


Beaver Creek Resort

Everyone looks for something different in a ski vacation - - some want the best possible skiing, some are there to enjoy the “après-ski”, while others want a good place for their children to learn to ski. Known as a “family friendly resort” Beaver Creek, located in Colorado, has a homey feel and offers a little bit of all of the above. There are many places to stay right on the mountain and the “interactive lodging map” under “travel plans” on Beavercreek.com provides a review of all the options.

888-830-SNOW (lodging)
www.beavercreek.com


Caneel Bay

Caneel Bay is one of those places honeymooners enjoy and families return to year after year. Located in St. John, Virgin Islands, the resort can be defined as “low key” luxury. It has very nice accommodations and offers everything from tennis to snorkeling to fine dining, but it has purposely eschewed the glitz of some of today’s upscale resorts.

PO Box 720
St John, Virgin Islands, USA 00831-0720
340-776-6111
www.caneelbay.com


The Coral Beach & Tennis Club

The Coral Beach Club in Bermuda has a feel of old world casual elegance in a beautiful, dramatic setting. While it is well known for its tennis club, it also offers swimming, squash, croquet, snorkeling, and fitness and has reciprocal rights with some of the great golf courses on the Island. Its accommodations range from rooms and suites to cottages. The Club has a membership and members can introduce guests to the Club.

Coral Beach & Tennis Club
P.O. Box PG 200
Paget PGBX, Bermuda
441-236-2233
www.coralbeachclub.com


The Gasparilla Inn & Club

The Gasparilla Inn & Club is a great place for a spring break vacation for the family. It is a “classic old Florida resort located on Gasparilla Island on the Gulf of Mexico” and offers golf, cycling, spa, fitness, croquet, boating and tennis.

P.O. Box 1088
500 Palm Avenue
Boca Grande, Florida 22921
800-996-1913


The Golden Door

Plan an annual getaway for you and your girlfriends to The Golden Door. They have room for 40 guests and offer weeklong stays that include “comprehensive wellness training,” inner focus, gourmet spa cuisine, two swimming pools, a tennis court, exercise pavilion, hiking, the latest in modern therapies, beauty regimens - - - need I say more?

Golden Door Reservations
Post Office Box 463077
Escondido, California 92064-3077
760-744-5777
US Toll Free 800-424-0777
www.goldendoor.com


The Ritz Carlton in Key Biscayne

It’s hard to go wrong with a Ritz Carlson and the Ritz Carlton in Key Biscayne doesn’t disappoint. Key Biscayne is a barrier island east of Miami with beautiful beaches, nature preserves and shopping villages. The Ritz Carlton offers elegant accommodations, two outdoor swimming pools, a fitness center, a large tennis center, a kids recreation program, a variety of excellent dining options and easy access to South Beach and other nearby attractions.

455 Grand Bay Drive
Key Biscayne, Florida 33149
305-365-4500
http://www.ritzcarlton.com/en/Properties/KeyBiscayne/Default.htm


The Tryall Club

Located 12 miles west of Montego Bay in Jamaica, Tryall is a special place. It is a private Club but many members rent their beautiful homes and the rental includes a staff that does the shopping, cooking and cleaning. Many families come back year after year and get to know each other. If you don’t need the space provided by a house, you can also stay in rooms at the “Great House.” The Club has an excellent tennis pro and golf pro and also offers beach swimming and dining.

876-956-5660
www.tryallclub.com


Deer Valley

If you are looking for a great ski vacation with your family, Deer Valley is for you. An easy flight from New York (Delta flies direct to Salt Lake City), Deer Valley is less than 45 minutes from the airport. There are no snowboarders allowed and they have a large number of groomed slopes that are good for children. They also limit the number of skiers during peak times to avoid overcrowding. Consider staying at the Stein Eriksen Lodge, which is nestled "mid" mountain and is considered the premier hotel in the area. You can rent your equipment there, store your skies and boots, which are dried overnight, and enjoy all the convenience of ski in/ski out accomodations. If you want to take advantage of ski school, make reservations well in advance. You can eat a casual cafeteria-style lunch at the Silver Lake Lodge. Other restaurants good for the evening include the Mariposa at Silver Lake Lodge, The Glitretind Restaurant at the Stein Eriksen, the Seafood Buffet at Snow Park Lodge or the the Fireside Dinner at Empire Canyon Lodge.

Stein Eriksen Lodge
7700 Stein Way
Park City Utah 04060
800-453-1302
www.steinlodge.com

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