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July 10, 2012

Me, two months ago: “Where do you want to go after your cousin’s wedding in London?”
Ali, while typing an email: “Not sure, you decide.”

I think I walked about 50 miles in Brussels. No joke.

Obviously, this was The Right Answer. Which I knew I would get if I consulted my husband while he was furiously typing on his computer.

And with that, my research commenced.

After studying exchange rates and putting together several complicated models where I calculated potential hours spent in a train/on a plane as a percentage of my entire vacation (in order to minimize wasted travel time), I finally booked us a trip to Dublin.

The Conrad in Brussels…one of the nicest hotels I’ve ever stayed in.

But then, a few days before our trip, I realized I’d neglected to research one key thing: the weather. So I waited until Ali was furiously typing again to “discuss.”

Me: “ says it’s going to be freezing cold and raining when we’re in Dublin. What do you think about visiting Belgium instead?”
Ali, while typing an email: “Not sure, you decide.”

Okay so I wasn’t crazy about the Belgium waffles…too sugary and too crispy. Here is one thing I wish I’d researched a bit more.

So I threw my lengthy research on Dublin out the window, squashed the voice in my head that insisted “You’ve invested too much time in Dublin NOT to go,” and with a wing and a prayer we headed to Belgium instead.

And after having a fantastic time in Brussels and Ghent, I am now pondering the idea that if I get over my need to plan and organize everything and shift over to Ali’s chaotic, dark side for a minute, things might actually – sometimes – work out better for me.

Italian food in Brussels. Some of the best I’ve ever had.

Something to think about.

81 Comments leave one →
  1. July 10, 2012 1:20 am

    I’m Belgian! Well, my dad was born there but I have passport and I even have to vote there. I’ll actually be in Beligum soon because my grandmother still lives there and she’s not doing very well ever since my father passed. Sorry, this comment is turning to be all about me.

    Anyhow, Belgian waffles are the best and I’m glad you got your fix.

    • July 10, 2012 7:47 pm

      I wish I’d remembered Eden…I would have asked you for suggestions!!

  2. July 10, 2012 3:27 am

    Semi-spontaneous can be fun sometimes. I tend to plan to much too. I have to start planning this crazy cross country jaunt of ours. The Lists must come out soon! Looks like a lot of fun…I’ve always heard that Brussels is beautiful!

    • July 10, 2012 7:47 pm

      Making an itinerary for a cross country drive is daunting…I can’t even imagine!

  3. July 10, 2012 3:30 am

    So you didn’t visit Bruges? 😉

    Ali did not complain right? you see, my husband dies the same: wanting me to make all the decisions before the trip, then he complains about everything, including weather, as if I could have done anything to prevent it.

    • July 10, 2012 7:49 pm

      We had planned to but after all the trains, planes, and automobiles we rode in we decided Bruges wasn’t in the cards this time!

      Ali did not complain. He doesn’t complain about things things that I think he has every right to complain about. It’s very strange.

  4. July 10, 2012 4:34 am

    Letting go and making last minute changes/doing things on a whim is definitely something I need to work on (we’ve discussed this, obviously). We can do this, Ameena! 🙂

    I’m actually not a fan of waffles. I think I prefer cake-y pancakes instead. They remind me of cake. Clearly.

    • July 10, 2012 7:50 pm

      I love waffles, but I need them to be spongy. Which probably is not at all what a waffle should be but that’s how they come out of my waffle maker.

      Which only reflects my poor cooking skills I suppose?

  5. July 10, 2012 4:36 am

    the best Italian food and you didn’t like the waffles?! Brussels is a conundrum already. I want to visit!

    • July 10, 2012 7:51 pm

      Total conundrum. I still recommend visiting nonetheless!

  6. July 10, 2012 4:40 am

    Glad it worked out! Y’all are cute 🙂
    I wish I could have Ali’s laid back attitude as well…planning things out just seems the way to go. However, I’m sure we both know no matter how well you plan sometimes not everything works out 😉

    Safe travels!


    • July 10, 2012 7:51 pm

      So true. Now if only I could remember this fact! I think I’d be so much happier…

  7. July 10, 2012 4:46 am

    I wish I could be more spontaneous but I’m a planner! Glad it worked out!! I do like your strategy of “discussing” when Ali is typing. I’ll have to give that a try 😉

    • July 10, 2012 7:53 pm

      It’s not easy being a planner, is it? But yes, definitely utilize the discussing-while-the-husband-is-typing strategy. It’s foolproof!

  8. July 10, 2012 5:02 am

    Love the spontaneous outing!

  9. July 10, 2012 5:03 am

    Great pics, Ameena 🙂 You look great!

  10. July 10, 2012 5:36 am

    Spur of the moment trips are always fun!!! As a matter of fact, most of my fun filled trips have always been spontaneous. That waffle looks too tempting. If I ever visit belgium, I will difinitely make it a point to have waffles 🙂

    • July 10, 2012 7:54 pm

      Definitely indulge in the waffles…but you must research a better place than I did!

  11. July 10, 2012 5:50 am

    My little sister is the queen of spontaneous travel; she lived in Angers, France for 4 months last year and then kept popping up in random places. Dublin was one of them. The photos were gorgeous and she had all sorts of wonderful things to say about the places she went and the people she met, but the weather was super crappy. So glad you enjoyed your spontaneous change of plans!! Even if the waffles were a sugar overload.

    • July 10, 2012 7:55 pm

      I admire your sister…I would have loved to do something like that when I was younger. Now I’m just too old, boring, and have too much responsibility!!

  12. July 10, 2012 6:01 am

    I like that. Gives me an idea, maybe from now on, I should ask my husband when he’s busy reading/watching ESPN… brilliant! 🙂
    Love all the photos. Ali looked mesmerized by something in the last photo.

    • July 10, 2012 7:56 pm

      Not sure what Ali was looking at…maybe a pretty girl? 🙂 He obviously wasn’t looking at me!

  13. July 10, 2012 7:31 am

    Belgium sounds amazing! I can’t wait to go back to Europe someday.

    • July 10, 2012 7:56 pm

      I highly recommend Brussels and Ghent! I hear Bruges is great too.

  14. July 10, 2012 7:48 am

    I’d choose Belgium over Dublin any day! Looks like you are both having a lovely time 😀

    • July 10, 2012 7:57 pm

      I think we made the right decision! But one day, I would love to see Dublin too.

    • anon permalink
      July 13, 2012 2:25 am

      Dublin is Awesome!

  15. July 10, 2012 8:15 am

    More traveling!! Lucky girl. I’m having a BLAST researching for my upcoming vacation. Hubby told me to decide where I want to go and we’ll go. I’ll make sure I check the weather.

    • July 10, 2012 7:58 pm

      Where are you headed CeCe? I’m going to live vicariously through you!

  16. July 10, 2012 8:44 am

    Good call on the weather. Husband and I were just discussing a trip to Ireland (he wants to go watch golf…boring!) but he said I couldn’t come because I would just complain the whole time about the weather. He’s probably right. I hate bad weather. Enjoy your travels!

    • July 10, 2012 7:58 pm

      I don’t get how they play golf in Ireland when it’s constantly raining? Such a mystery to me.

    • July 13, 2012 2:29 am

      Whilst it rains often, that gives Ireland it’s beautiful green fields and landscape and it’s fantastic scenery. Everyday you get 4 seasons, and whilst its wet it’s rarely cold. Definitely worth making the trip – it’s an outstandingly beautiful place with lovely people and great food, traditions and things to see

  17. July 10, 2012 8:50 am

    Think of the hilarity and good times that’d ensue when both you and Ali fly by the seat of your pants. Or it could be utter chaos. Either way, solid blog fodder! 🙂 More vacation pics please!

    • July 10, 2012 7:59 pm

      Good point. So when I have no idea what to write about I should do something spontaneous? Great idea!!

  18. July 10, 2012 9:39 am

    When comes to travels, I let my Quay Lo do all the planning. Just don’t bother me. LOL!

    • July 10, 2012 8:00 pm

      I wish I could do the same but I am WAY to controlling for that to happen. 🙂

  19. July 10, 2012 9:55 am

    Oh my gosh Ameena.. I swear I was looking up deals to Europe last night – 3 city visit and Brussels was on the list, I was looking at the Conrad and Renaissance and all. I was wishy washy about Brussels since it’s not so talked about.. compared to other cities, ya know. But now, I think I may have to give London the boot and do Brussels, try something new.

    Have you ever been to Amsterdam? If so, where did you stay?

    Now I just need to find someone to go with since my husband wants to go to India for 3 weeks – SIGH!!!

    • July 10, 2012 8:03 pm

      We did visit Amsterdam and honestly, I wasn’t crazy about it. The city is definitely beautiful but everything is SO expensive. And the food? I wasn’t impressed at all.

      Initially we checked in to the Blu Hotel (Renaissance I think?) but then checked out and into the Amsterdam Intercon. It was 100 X better but of course expensive.

      In Brussels I would recommend the Conrad or the Rocco Forte. Both are gorgeous! Let me know if you need any other suggestions. I wish I could go with you!

      • July 11, 2012 7:05 pm

        Thanks so much Ameena… I know.. if you lived here and we did a local vacation and didn’t FIGHT and BITCH (like most women), hell yes, I would go with you. I love your taste.
        Really, you didn’t like Amsterdam? I’ve heard good things.. I guess it’s romantic and all. It’s so sad I want to go to London just for that 1 Fortnum and Mason place.. my logic is so off. I’m always vacation hungry.

      • July 11, 2012 8:30 pm

        You are so welcome. And I’m sure that we wouldn’t fight or bitch. I save all that for Ali and Maya. 🙂

        Seriously though, Fortnum and Mason is worth a trip! I’m always vacation hungry too.

      • July 11, 2012 7:06 pm

        oh , the Blu HOtel is the Radisson.. I was eyeing that too.. and it got a 5 star rating, I think, that’s so sad it doesn’t measure up. European standards are always lower. Thanks for the tip.

  20. July 10, 2012 11:04 am

    I would love to go to Belgium! I need to go to Europe in general!!!

  21. The Mom Chef permalink
    July 10, 2012 11:16 am

    My Mom’s from Belgium so I’m glad you chose to go there. We love doing things spontaneously like that and usually have the most fun when stuff’s not planned to the hilt. I’m glad you let loose and did something off the cuff like that! Next thing you know, you’ll own chickens.

    • July 10, 2012 8:04 pm

      I’m such a moron! I should have asked you for suggestions.

      And RE: the chickens? My building fines me for bringing my bike through the main elevator. Chickens are definitely out of the question.

  22. July 10, 2012 11:18 am

    Sounds like things worked out. And, personally, I like the waffles just plain. There is nothing like an authentic crispy, chewy Belgium Waffle. Oh, except maybe the Belgium chocolates.

    • July 10, 2012 8:05 pm

      The Belgium chocolate is really quite fantastic. So much so that I’m a bit chocolate-d out right now. Didn’t think that was possible.

  23. July 10, 2012 12:23 pm

    Amen to letting go and letting someone else carry the baton. Glad you had fun in Belgium

    • July 10, 2012 8:06 pm

      If only I could allow others to carry the baton more often? I need to figure out how to make that happen…

  24. July 10, 2012 1:14 pm

    Okay so i’m officially kind of jealous!! Sounds like you are having a great time 🙂 I love how everything is just a stones throw away in Europe…someday I will get there. Mmmm waffles from the source (where they are from) nom nom!

    • July 10, 2012 8:07 pm

      I also love how quick getting around Europe is. So amazing that I can be in Paris or London or Brussels with in 2 hours!

  25. July 10, 2012 2:07 pm

    Not planning things makes me crazy too, but I LOVE when it works out even better then what was actually planned.
    Also, that hotel looks incredible.

  26. July 10, 2012 6:27 pm

    I’m sad that your waffles weren’t up to snuff given their name. Though, I’m sure you would stress if you didn’t try to at least have some semblance of a plan for trips. If you end up not following it, you can use it as a “just in case” option if the “fly by the seat of your pants” route doesn’t pan out.

    • July 10, 2012 8:08 pm

      I think I definitely need a plan outline, at the very least. I admire all the backpackers I saw throughout Europe but let’s face it…I’ll never be that spontaneous!

  27. July 10, 2012 6:28 pm

    Ireland and Belgium…so not the same at all. That the Italian food in Brussels was so phenomenal is further baffling. And yet, I love it all sick because you did exactly what I am usually too anxious to do.

    On that note, we’ll be in that area next summer I think – I’m assuming at this point you’d suggest going there?

    • July 10, 2012 8:09 pm

      Absolutely! I recommend Brussels and Ghent for sure. I hear Bruges is gorgeous too so maybe consider a stop there?

      I wish I could join you next summer!

  28. July 10, 2012 9:20 pm

    Brussels and Bruges are some of my favorite cities in Europe. Spent a few random days in Belgium after a trip to London with my brother. So glad I went – sometimes you just gotta say to heck with the plans and go with the flow. 🙂

    • July 11, 2012 8:25 pm

      Now I’m sad that we didn’t get to Bruges! But we’ll hopefully get back there someday.

  29. July 10, 2012 11:27 pm

    I have stopped planning any trips now… There were always these last moment change which use to bug me so much, given the fact that I spend my time on planning.. SO now no planning for me..
    I hope you enjoyed ur trip!!

    • July 11, 2012 8:26 pm

      I’m hoping that one day I can get to where you are Reem! To not plan. Sounds…impossible for me!

  30. July 10, 2012 11:56 pm

    Oh, funny about the waffles! I had a friend move to Belgium and actually end up working at a waffle shop. Which is sort of hilarious. She said there are actually two types of waffles in Belgium. Liege waffles, which it sounds like you had, and Brussels-style, which is closer to what we call Belgian…

    • July 11, 2012 8:27 pm

      See, if I’d done a bit of research I would have known what to ask for! Next time I’ll know to forgo the Liege…

  31. July 11, 2012 6:36 am

    Glad it turned out well. I need to get out of my tendency to over plan as well 🙂

  32. July 11, 2012 8:02 am

    some of my most memorable experiences area the ones that are mostly unplanned. i research the hell out of EVERYTHING (that neurotic organized planner in me) but it is so freeing when you have a highly satisfying experience that is mostly spontaneous no? 🙂 sorry to hear the waffles sucked, nate loves Brussels but i’ve never been there yet!

    • July 11, 2012 8:28 pm

      It is really so freeing when it’s spontaneous and it works out…such a good point!

  33. July 11, 2012 11:04 pm

    brussels :O amazing place I heard. Glad you had a great time… I have been virtually non existent in the blogosphere lately though. i hope to get back in the mix soon. 🙂

  34. July 12, 2012 2:34 am

    Too bad you didn’t like the waffle better. I hope to get to Belgium one day. Hopefully soon, but I think my Europe adventures were fulfilled in the past weeks and I need to stick to something closer for now. Like you said, in planning that travel distance and time spent on planes and trains and what not is an important part of the equation. I was not a fan of the 36 hours it took me to get to Israel from Japan, but I will say that it was definitely worth it. I am hardcore when it comes to planning and I am sure that would drive some people nuts, but for me it is just what I need. Next up for me is Tokyo (climbing Mt. Fuji and going to Disneyland with my hubby) and then Australia!

  35. July 12, 2012 3:57 am

    Lol! Maybe you should try move over to the ‘dark side’, just for a day or two. Looks like you guys ad fun! The waffles…well they do look rather sugary, but yummy all the same.

  36. July 12, 2012 6:05 am

    Honestly, Belgium has never been on my “list.” But sugary, crispy waffles sound pretty good to me!

  37. July 12, 2012 7:45 am

    I am definitely a planner. Don’t mind venturing off the beaten path, but will still, plan it LOL! But in Europe, I’ll happily crossover. Love that continent for whatever I’ve seen and will go back for more ….(sigh!)……someday 🙂

  38. glamorous glutton permalink
    July 12, 2012 8:38 am

    Mr Glam and I have just got back from Dublin. It’s the first time we’d been there despite its being not far away. The weather was really sunny but to be fair that is rare in Ireland and rain is far more normal. A fun place with great restaurants, so if you have the chance again do visit. I hope the wedding went well. GG

  39. July 12, 2012 10:26 am

    Oh my gosh, oh my gosh I can finally comment that I’ve been there!!!!!! I have it’s true. I’ve only been out of the states once and it was to Belgium. I tagged along on a business trip with Glenn when Lila was a baby. I remember all the woman dressing so fancy and I was in sweats and Ugg boots (Lila was only 5 months and I was still nursing). I felt like such a jerk of an American so dressing so shabbily.

  40. July 15, 2012 8:47 pm

    I just got back from Dublin, and yes it was FREEZING! It was pretty rainy too (some of the time at least) . I had a great time but I think going to Belgium would be fantastic. If only for the fries.

  41. July 16, 2012 1:12 am

    I’ve always dreamt about taking a trip to Europe…*sigh*. I should probably go during Summer like you did though; I don’t think my overly and clinically poor circulation can stand their winter 😛 Do you have any recommendation for which country/countries to visit for a Europe-first-timer?

  42. anywherethereisanairport permalink
    July 18, 2012 6:04 pm

    Just making your way around the globe! I have loved catching up on your travels. Maya’s comments, excess jam, waffles and all! I am still not far enough removed from my European life to want to travel back… just yet. But we all know that won’t last long!

  43. August 1, 2012 5:17 am

    I have been to Belgium, lovely country, wasn’t so impressed with the food. And I had the same thoughts about their “waffles”. I am enjoying a lot reading about your trip, might come handy when we finally decide to visit London (we are waiting for our daughter to be a bit older, so she can at least remember it later).

    • August 5, 2012 8:47 pm

      Thanks for the comment Aunt Clara! I’m glad that you are waiting for your daughter to remember London…I did the same thing before I took Maya anywhere really far. And expensive. 🙂

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