Hotel Sabina

Rue du Nord 78, Brussels, 1000, Belgium

1 Review

Hotel Sabina
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65%

Satisfaction Poor
Excellent
11%
6
Very Good
28%
15
Average
26%
14
Poor
18%
10
Terrible
15%
8

N/A

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  • little_liebchen's Profile Photo

    Clean, Cheap Lodging

    by

    I think Hotel Sabina was sufficient for one night, but I wouldn't stay there for longer. It was too cramped and hot in our room (there were 4 of us) and we were on the top floor. The elevator was a bit scary, so we traipsed up and down the stairs every time, which is exhausting if you've been spending the day out sightseeing. It was clean, but very shabby. Service was very friendly though. And I don't think you can stay anywhere cheaper so close to the center of town.

    Unique Quality: Great breakfast, parking is free on the street if your license plate is registered outside of Belgium

More about Hotel Sabina

KIDNAPPED ?

by Aang

PART ONE - ARRIVAL IN BRUSSELS.

I am sitting in the restaurant called AUX ARMES DE BRUXELLES (Rue des Bouchers 13, tel 02 511 55 50)which has been serving excellent food since 1921.

"How's your waterzooi of lobster?" asks Myrianne.

"Very fresh, moist and lobstery," I reply. "Goes well with the Muscadet. How's your seafood?"

"Very expensive; but tres bien. Like the service. So often the service in Belgium is not exactly friendly."

"You're being unfair," I suggest.

"The guide book refers to some Belgian waiters being 'brusque and ill-tempered'. Page 24 of Thomas Cook."

"It's just the Belgian way."

"Have you ever been invited into a Belgian's home?"

"No. But you're not trying to suggest that's significant."

"The guide says : 'invitations to Belgian's homes are handed out with a parsimony that suggests fears for the family silver.'"

"It's just the Belgian way."

"Like trying to run you over."

"You're being unfair."

"The guide book refers to Belgium's dreadful accident statistics and you must have seen all the bumps on the sides of cars."

"What does Thomas Cook say?"

"The guide says: 'Pedestrians need to be vigilant at all times, especially those with young children and on black and white pedestrian crossings, where it is not uncommon to see mothers with prams running a gauntlet of cars.'"

"Are you going to have pudding?" I said, changing the subject.

"You know I love Belgian food," said Myrianne, who happens to be slim. "But I'm worried about this dioxin."

"That was back in 1999. When the Belgian government banned dairy and animal products. It's over."

"There's a new study I was told about at KUL."

"KUL?"

"The university. Anyway researchers at four universities have brought out this new study. It'll be in the journal called Environmental Health Perspectives."

"So?"

"The study shows the daily content of PCB's and dioxins in the Belgian food chain remains very high."

"Dioxins cause cancers?"

"Right. The study predicts up to 8,000 cancer deaths in Belgium due to this dioxin. Then there's the danger to the liver, and, to fertility. Kids can end up with serious thyroid gland problems."

"I'm going to have some chocolate pudding. Must be fit for our bus journey."

"The guide book says about the buses: 'long-distance services either non-existent or minimal and slow. Page 23 of Thomas Cook."

"You know, I have liked what I've seen of Brussels and Belgium," I said.

"Brussels. It's full of litter. All these rubbish bags that spew out paper when the wind and rain come."

"I enjoyed the Bruparck theme Park especially the tropical pools and plastic beach; I adored the Flea Market; the Comic Strip Museum was absolutely fabulous; I liked the Grand Place with all its old 17th century buildings; and the Saint Hubert Royal Galleries, the 19th Century shopping mall; and the little boy having a pee."

"Yes. But it's not as grand as Paris or Barcelona or Venice or Rome."

"But it's not bad."

#########################################

BRUPARCK and the Oceadium is reached by taking the Metro to HEIZEL. Bruparck has:
the world's biggest cinema complex,
the Atomium which has giant balls,
a Mini-Europe,
a children's playground etc. Worth a visit. Some things are not open in Winter.

Walibi, reached by taking a train to WAVRE, is a fantastic theme park with all the usual sorts of terrifying rides and some gentler ones. Open 5 April- 29 September.

The FLEA Market, in a lively working-class area called Marolles, is a MUST. It's at Place du Jeu de Balle, every day 7am-2pm. Wonderful for photos, people watching, and shopping.

COMIC Strip Museum / Centre Belge de la Bande Dessinee, Rue des Sables 20 (closed Mondays): in an art nouveau building! - here you can see Herge's TINTIN (the boy detective who travels the world), and also Asterix and a host of others. You can't come to Belgium and not see Herge's (George Remi's) world famous creations.

Night-life can be had at L'Ecume des Nuits, Galerie Louise 122a. Lots of African-style music and dancing.

Cafes- at Cerceuil, Rue des Harengs 10, you can drink out of a skull, while sitting at a coffin, listening to gloomy music. Avoid this place.

Instead, try De Ultieme Hallucinatie, Rue Royal 316, which has a vast number of excellent beers. Art nouveau decor.

HOTEL : SABINA, near the Gare Centrale, about £40 per single, reasonable rooms.

############################################

PART TWO DE HAAN.

Take the train to KNOKKE on the coast. The COAST TRAM will take you from Knokke (Dutch border) to De Panne (French border), stopping at all the coastal settlements along the way.

DE HAAN

Here we are at the coast (18 minutes from Ostende). De Haan : A lovely place -almost totally unlike Benidorm. No tower blocks. But the weather is rather English Bank Holiday, with a grey sky. We take a wander, Myrianne and I, and admire the old mansions along the front. In a cafe we meet Monsieur X, who seems to quite like Myrianne.

"Mafias," says Mr X, who looks like Hercule Poirot.

"Mafias?" says Myrianne, looking into the eyes of Mr X, and letting her coffee grow cold.

"People in the Belgian Foreign Ministry have allegedly been selling passports to Eastern European gangs, and to Africans," says X.

"Crime's a problem everywhere," I comment. "The streets here seem safer than in London."

"The rumour here is that the mafias have connections with people in the government," says Mr X.

"But you don't have criminals firing guns like in London," I say

"You know, my friend, the mafias don't need to shoot," says X. "You know this country is very big in the arms trade."

"Surely not as big as Britain," I say.

############################################

PART THREE - GHENT.

This is Flemish, Dutch, Protestant....a port on a river... a non-touristy place... a place of canals.

"Where are we?" asks Myrianne.

"Korenlai, next to Sint-Michielsbrug bridge," I explain.

"It's my kind of place," says Myrianne. "The river, the old houses."

"You like Ghent?"

"I love it. It's Romanesque, Gothic, Brabant and Renaissance."

We eat later at Auberge de Fonteyne, Gouden Leeuwplein 7, which is not expensive and which has real Belgian food. Belgian food? Think of pots of mussels, Ardennes ham, cheeses like Passendale, beers like gueuze, and FRITES. The Belgians invented chips. I hate oven chips but could eat many platefuls of real Belgian chips.

"A quiz on famous Belgians," says Myrianne.

"OK."

"Who was Victor Horta?"

"Plays for Standard Liege?"

"No. He was the inventor of Art Nouveau, which is what you have in the interior of this restaurant. Who was Jordaens?"

"That I remember. Jordaens painted that painting called 'The King Celebrates.' The painting in which a child is having its bottom wiped."

"Well done. Name two Belgian composers."

"Rubens?"

"No. Franck and Jacques Brel."

"That name rings a Brel."

#############################################

GHENT -

HOTEL/B&B - Taxistop, Onderbergen 51, tel 00 32 9 2232310, can find you a bed and breakfast from £20 per night.

Cour St Georges, tel 00 32 9 2242424, rooms from £48. Very old hotel. Lovely suites.

TRANSPORT: walk or tram. Lovely cobbled streets.

MONDAYS : in Belgium lots of things are closed on Mondays.

BEER: Tempelier, near Vrijdagmarkt. There are 800 bars.

Cakes: Sobrie's at Mageleinstraat. Very special decor.

CATHEDRAL : The altarpiece, by the van Eyck brothers, is in a side chapel where you have to pay, but, it really is worth seeing those famous nudes.

THE Gravensteen CASTLE : has torture instruments. Not my tasse de the.

Shopping: flea market on Friday and Saturday mornings.

MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS: Bosch!

#############################################

PART FOUR - DURBUY IN THE ARDENNES

This is the Southern, French speaking, Roman Catholic part of Belgium. What they call Wallonia. For the tourist, the attractions are many:

The rounded hills of the Ardennes, forests, rivers, art, carnivals, and fine food.

Durbuy is in a deep valley and has a pretty chateau. It's a great place for CYCLING.

We rent mountain bikes and cycle along mountain-biking trails. It's quite hard-going for me as I'm not used to streams and hills and forests; but I love it and get better and better each day.

"You're better here than in the big cities," says Didier, the middle-aged, balding barman at our hotel.

"Yes, lovely scenery," says Myrianne.

"The cities have become bad," continues Didier.

"True of all cities," I say. "London's bad."

"So I've heard," says Didier. "But here we are getting a bad name in Belgium."

"Marc Dutroux?" says Myrianne.

"He's not been put on trial yet," says Didier. "He knows too much about the top people."

"There's always rumours," I say. "Rumours about aliens, rumours about George Bush and weird ceremonies involving mock child-sacrifice. Just rumours."

"I'll tell you," says Didier, fingering the crucifix suspended from his neck, "there are girls coming in here from Africa. To brothels in a city near here. Very young girls. Probably with AIDS."

"The world's a wicked place, " I comment.

"No, wait," says Myrianne, "the International Organisation for Migration has said Belgium is the top place for sex slavery. Young girls from Rwanda, the Congo, and so on."

"Not for tourists like you," says Didier.

"Thank you," I say.

"No, these brothels are very expensive and very exclusive. Only for very top people who will keep quiet."

"It's true," says Myrianne. "Look the Observer said the same thing. It talked about 'the squalid road that leads to Belgium'."

"Well, these things go on," I said.

"How come Dutroux has not been brought to trial?" asks Didier. "Belgium is rotten to the core."

############################################

PART FIVE - LIEGE.

We reach Liege by train.

Liege, in Wallonia, is a city associated with a river, industry, churches and ....MAIGRET's author Georges Simenon.

Simenon! What a man. An expert on the seedy side of life. Did he really have sex with 20,000 women? Was he really homosexual?

Liege is a place to wander, along the river, through the Aquarium at Quai Van Beneden, into museums and churches, and along the lively streets of the working class area called Outremeuse.

The market , La BATTE market, at Quai de la Batte, on Sundays, stretches alongside the river and attracts thousands of people. Worth a visit.

Liege has wonderful food. For example- salade liegeoise which is potatoes, smoked bacon, onions, French beans, and parsley. Yummy.

If you are feeling wealthy, try CHEZ MAX, Place de la Republique Francaise 12. Small comfortable restaurant with Belgian food.

"OK," says Myrianne, in the cafe called Vaudree II, "A quiz about famous Belgians."

"Tintin," I say, putting down my beer glass. "He was Belgian. Ask me about Tintin."

"No, Michel Nihoul."

"He plays for Anderlecht?"

"No. He was the guy who allegedly organised orgies in a Belgian chateau. Orgies allegedly attended by a former European commissioner, judges, senior politicians, lawyers and policemen."

"And?"

"He was one of the accomplices of you-know-who."

"Marc Dutroux."

"The subject of the book called 'The X-files: What Belgium Was Not Supposed to Know About the Dutroux Affair.' Now, next question. Who is Regina Louf?"

"Famous cyclist."

"No. Regina Louf testified to the authorities about orgies at which she allegedly saw children tortured and murdered. The allegation in the X-files is that, at Black masses, attended by members of Belgium's elite, children were sacrificed."

"Is she taken seriously?"

"Not apparently by certain top people. But, quite recently, at the village of Forchies-la-Marche, the police investigated an institute of Black Magic. They dug up human skulls. And the International Herald Tribune did a famous piece about all this. They quoted Guy Poncelet as saying the X-files book was convincing."

"So, the next question is : who is Guy Poncelet? Answer: I don't know."

"He's a judge. His son, a police officer, was mysteriously shot dead. This son had been investigating a case involving Dutroux. And the next question: who is Judge Connerotte?"

"I need another beer. You know they have about one thousand different beers in this cafe!"

"Judge Connerotte was the judge who caught Dutroux."

"The authorities must have been pleased."

"The authorities removed Connerotte from the case. Now, another question: who is Mr De Baets?"

"This is a case for Maigret."

"De Baets was the official in charge of investigating the X-files. The authorities removed him from the case."

"What's all this got to do with Liege?"

"Who is Andre Cools?"

"Belgian rock singer?"

"In 1991, Belgium's former deputy prime minister, Andre Cools, announced that he was about to make some revelations about the mafia and their links to some of the most important people in Liege."

"SO?"

"Cools was shot dead. Before he could speak out."

"How's your beer?"

"Fine. Who is Alain Van der Biest?"

"Belgian artist?"

"After Dutroux's arrest in 1996, arrests were made in the Cool's case."

"So, who got arrested?"

"One of those arrested was Alain Van der Biest, a Socialist Minister, alleged to have close links with the mafia gangs of Liege."

"How's your beer?"

"Who is Guy Mathot?"

"That's a difficult one."

"Belgian TV came up with an anonymous witness who claimed that leading Socialist politician, Guy Mathot, had ordered Cools to be killed."

"What sort of guy is Mathot?"

"In 1994 Mathot was charged with corruption over kickbacks paid to Belgium's Socialist parties. Now, here's a famous Belgian you will have heard of. Who is Willy Claes?"

"Famous Belgian chef?"

"Claes was NATO Secretary General and a Belgian. He was caught up in the Mathot kickbacks thing and was forced to resign. Who is Melchior Wathelet?"

"Tell me."

"It was top judge Wathelet who released Dutroux from prison in 1991. Wathelet was Belgium's judge at the European Court of Justice. Wathelet was Belgium's Justice Minister at the time when Cools was shot dead. Cools' son called for Wathelet and other top judges to be removed from office. In 1996 there were suggestions that the gangs involved in the Cools' killing had been involved with Dutroux."

############################################

PART SIX - MYRIANNE DISAPPEARS

"Mr Maigret..." I began.

"Call me Jules," said the pipe smoking gentleman.

"My friend Myrianne has disappeared," I continued.

"What do you think has happened?" said Maigret.

"She could have been kidnapped. Is that possible?"

"It happens. 1,300 children disappeared in the Brussels region between 1991 and 1996. According to government official Mr De Baets, what happened after several of these disappearances was that Marc Dutroux paid large sums of money into various bank accounts. Adults, like Myrianne, also disappear. But it's not always a crime when someone vanishes. Tell me about Myrianne."

"Well....

###########################################

PART SEVEN - TOO MUCH JENEVER IN HESSELT

"I did drink quite a lot last night," I say.

"The gin museum was interesting though," says Myrianne.

############################################

National JENEVERMUSEUM, Witte Nonnenstraat 19, Hasselt, Flanders.

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 Hotel Sabina

We've found that other people looking for this hotel also know it by these names:

Sabina Hotel Brussels

Address: Rue du Nord 78, Brussels, 1000, Belgium