Wednesday, 29 April 2015

A Special Visit

السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته and good day!

Yesterday, I received a special visit from special people.

My sis is coming to visit!!!

The first batch of my family has arrived all the way from Malaysia. Why the first batch? Because my sis and my parents are travelling separately. Weird, I know. =P

I have been so excited, waiting for their arrival.

sisterly love..haha..*we are not lovey dovey type sisters*

Welcome back to London sista! The most excited person is my lovely niece. She has been asking non-stop when they will be going to London.

This is her version of a birthday song that was supposed to be for me.

Woohoo...we're gonna have some fun!

Until next time..

Friday, 24 April 2015

Brussels Trip

السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته and good day!

First off, this is going to be a long post. Not because there were a lot of places we visited, but it was such an eventful day. 

Our final destination for the spring trip is Brussels, Belgium. We actually arrived from London to Brussels first and rented a car to drive to Amsterdam on the same day. So we only managed to see Brussels before we went back that night.

The first stop that we went to is the Atomium because it's located outside of the city centre. It's fairly easy to find, the parking here is quite costly. Luckily when we arrive, there were someone else that wanted to leave, but still have 4 hours left on their parking ticket. So they sold it to us for £4.

Atomium is this building right here. It's basically an atom-like structure. 

As we posed to take pictures, a lot of people started following. huhu...trend setter.

A view from below. FYI, the structure connecting the spheres are actually escalators to go from the bottom to the top sphere. Cool eh?

The queue to enter was crazy long, plus the entrance costs €11. So we decided not to enter and just went to the souvenir shop.

As we arrived at the city centre, I suggested to go to the Grand Mosque. 

The parking was free, plus we can perform our prayer in peace while we're here.

The mosque was huge! is the grand mosque.

The entrance.

This is the top floor of the mosque. They have seminar rooms and classes. We came here on a Saturday and there were many kids attending Islamic classes.

This is the female prayer room. The ablution area for female is at another place, the 1st level. We had to ask someone for the direction because we don't understand the signs. It's a good thing they still have arabic signs. I can still understand. People in Belgium speak French. I just knew that when we came here. huhu..

We arrived at Brussels around 3pm. In Brussels, it is crazy difficult to find a parking space. Plus, all the parking needs to be paid, costs around €2+. So we weren't going to waste anymore time searching for parking, we decided to return the car immediately. 

Our return point is at the Brussels Midi Train Station (the same with our pick-up point). However, we didn' know where is the entrance to return the rental car (usually the return is different than the pick-up). We searched in the navi system, but it directed us to the return point at the airport. We lost a half hour just to return back to the city centre. Choi!

Because the navi system is not on our side again, we had to use the help of the good 'ol trustee phone. We searched on google, but it only state the station which we already know where it is. we just need the entrance. Then, my bestie searched on someone's blog and it state where to go. It's the Q Parking space (a basement parking space inside the station), the same place where we picked up our car. 

This is what you should search for.

So we parked our car at the return designated area. There were hardly any cars there.

The counter actually closed at 4.30 on weekends and we arrived 6 minutes after. 

However, you can easily drop your keys at the key drop space inside the station. Easy peasy.

After settling all that, we took a train to find the attractions nearby. The trains here is like a subway. 

The tickets barrier is a bit weird because they have two barriers. One where you just press to enter, the gate behind you will close and you'll be in the middle of the barrier space (kind of like when you scan your passport at the auto machine), then you put in your tickets to enter the next barrier. There's only one ticket barrier, the rest are for touch n' go kind. I can't imagine their rush hour. 

The first place that we head to is the Grand Place. We mistakenly went here with the car, even went to a no entry road and was told to move by the police officer there. Well, we didn't know..*innocent face*

On the way to the Grand Place, we saw a group of performance dancing. It kind of look like an Irish dance though.

This was in front of this building.

After a few minutes walk, not far from here...

Tadaa...the GRAND PLACE

Sure is grand

This place is consists of 5 grand and beautiful buildings. One of them is this one. Can you guess what it actually is??

we only found out later when we went to a souvenir shop. This is actually a hotel called Hotel De Ville De Bruxelles.

Just around the corner of this place, there's a road full of chocolatiers. This road is even famous for it. So many chocolates to choose from. One of my friend told me that the famous one is called Elisabeth.

They have two shops on the same road, one of them sells the chocolates.

We bought one milk chocolate bar, half a dozen chocolate eggs and some truffles.

There were loads of other chocolates at some of the other stores.

The opposite of the Elisabeth store, there's one store not only selling chocolates, they sell various types of cookies too!!

They taste delicious! So creamy and buttery.

Suddenly a carriage passed by. huhu...

After that, we visited a souvenir shop. They sold even cheaper chocolates here! 6 boxes for €9.99!!

Seeing all those chocolates made us hungry, so we went to find some food and came across this place. We want to have a try because the other day, my friends bought some noodles at a wok store and it tastes soooo good. 

This place wasn't bad either. We bought noodles again, some with prawns (they put a lot in one bowl) and mine with salmon. The price was reasonable too.

While we were enjoying our food, there were two guys eating behind us. They bought a take away box, but they eat in instead. That wasn't the problem. While they were eating, they started playing with their food, throwing it around at each other, making the place all messy. The owner who was also the cook got angry when he noticed that and throw a dish towel at their table (a sign for them to clean it up). 

However, one of the guy just ignored and left the store, while calling his friend. The other guy, tried telling the owner it was his friend's fault and tried to order some more. The owner refused and asked them to leave! As they guy was leaving, he flipped the chairs in the store and the sign board they placed outside. So rude!! I have no idea why they were doing this. Plus, we noticed those two guys were English. They are portraying such bad image of tourist in general and people form England. 

If I were the owner, I would ask them to clean it up before asking them to leave. All the mess had to be cleaned up by the worker. Pity her.

Moving on...

Belgium is famous for their beer...and of course..

Their Waffles!!

Belgian waffles taste a little bit different than other waffles. With all that topping, they only costs €3!! However, we did found some stores selling just for €1. Maybe for the plain ones.

Near the waffles stores is the manneken pis (mannequin pis) or translates as the pissing statue. It's a statue of a pissing boy. 

Now why would anyone want to take a picture of that?? So I'm not going to upload it. 

My bestie told us that her labmate, who was from Belgium had told her to try some frites (fries) in Belgium. It's a must! So we went and bought some at a store we saw earlier. We chose this one because there's a queue..meaning it must be good. huhu..

They sold a lot of other stuff here as well like hot dogs, burgers. The thing that people came here is their frites sub-sandwich. It looked really good, but we were still full from our dinner earlier.

So we just bought this instead which costs €2.

After filling some energy, we took a long walk to the Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula.

We passed by some amazing buildings.

We prayed in front of the cathedral because t's secluded and quiet.

The cathedral is located near the bus stop where we were suppose to take our bus back home to London.

It's not far from the cathdral, but we took a longer route..haish~

We were thinking of just waiting inside (away from the cold) while drinking some hot coffee..

However, the bus stop for Megabus is not actually inside this station. This is a train station. So, we decided to go and find the bus stop first, then we can relax.

We didn't think it would be far because according to the locals, it's near the central station. So we walked, but we didn't see any Megabus signs. Usually in UK, Megabus will have their signs even at stops at the streets.

So we used the GPS and tried to find the stop according to our booking. It showed a place quite far from the station, across a huge park.

So we went there anyway, just to be sure.

We passed by embassies, government buildings..this place is super quiet and secluded. I started to second guess the GPS. Along the way, we passed the American embassy and my bestie went to ask the soldiers guarding in front for directions. 

The guards said there were a lot of people came there asking the same thing before. Either the GPS was wrong or the place mentioned in the booking is wrong. The guards pointed us to the direction heading to the place we were before!!

We passed the park again...

and went back to where we started. I told my bestie to search for blogs or a description of someone that had actually took megabus from here. 

It turned out to be very near to the central station.

Can you guess where the Megabus sign is??

It was up here, on the street sign, too small to get noticed. $&^!%£%*&!!! I mean..come on!

As the bus arrives, another drama occurred. There were a family that was heading back to London from holiday. When the driver was checking for tickets and passports, he noticed that their tickets was actually for last night. WHAATTT??!! I felt so sorry for them. It was an honest mistake because our ticket is at 12.05am, so it should be on the 5th, and theirs were on the 4th. I felt sorry because there's an old lady (I'm assuming is the mother) and small kids around 9 or 10. The mother looked so angry at the son, and he looked so full of guilt.

At first the driver said, if there were no shows, they could come up and ride the bus. In the end, there were not enough space because there were so many of them (around 5 people) and it's very difficult to find the extra seat. So they had to stay. I just hope they'll be alright. 

The path back to London had to go through either a tunnel or cross the sea via ferry. We took a ferry (it's not like we had a choice). The ferry fee is included in the bus ticket. 

There were so many cars, lorries, busses eventhough it's at 2am. I guess it's cheaper to travel late at night.

On the ferry, you can't stay in your vehicle for safety purposes. So we had to drag our bottoms up to the deck. We were super sleepy..

It's a good thing we found some seats. A lot of them just sat on the floor and slept. Some rude ones will conquer the whole sofa leaving no space for anyone else to sleep. Or they'll take up to of these chairs to put their feet on. 

The ferry ride took about an hour and a half. I didn't fell like sleeping at this moment. We have to go back to our vehicle around 5am. So we took wudhu' earlier in the ferry (because the toilet is so much more comfy) and perform our prayer on the bus. 

Fuh...done with all the excitement. It was such a great trip. All of the expenses were about £280, including transport, accommodation, souvenirs and food. This trip cost a bit more than our Spain trip because we didn't hold off on food and souvenirs. huhu..

Hope to go for another trip soon!!

Until next time...