This was another one of those itineraries where my original plans were forced to be altered by United. Originally, I had booked my flights to be on Untied to and from Frankfurt and on Lufthansa between Frankfurt and Brussels. A few weeks prior to the trip, United contacted me to say that I needed to switch to the United departure from Brussels to Chicago and then to SFO from there. They cited that the Lufthansa flight I was on was no longer available. When I checked, the flight was still there, so what I suspect is that the Lufthansa flight was no longer being made available to me via United. I really didn't want to change since traveling through Chicago in winter can endanger one's plans, but they really weren't giving me a choice. Plus, the Brussels flight to Chicago would be using the updated 767 plane, which I tend to like these days. I do have to say though that the flight attendants in First class in both directions were all very nice and provided excellent service.
Landing in Brussels was a new experience for me even though I had been there before. Both prior times, arrival had been by train. This time, I arrived via plane and it was pretty easy, especially since I cleared passport control in Germany. I found my way to the train station at the lowest level, bought a ticket from the window (couldn't find any vending machines -- but they don't take non-Belgian cards anyway), and figured out the right platform. They are in the process of renovating the airport - Central Brussels connection, so they charger an extra fee and there is a lot of construction going on in the station.
I took the train to its terminus at Gare du Mid/Zuidstation and then went down a couple of more levels to buy a 3-day metro pass and rode three stops to Louiza station. The Conrad is about a 5-minute walk from the station.
The Conrad was very nice. I had to wait just a few minutes for them to verify my upgraded room (Signature room with Terrace) was clean and ready. The breakfast buffet was quite ample, and the lounge has a nice afternoon tea service available (with live music on Saturdays).
I immediately set out for the Central Bank, as it closes at 3:30. I changed my money without issue, although you have to show your passport for the transaction.
Next, I headed to check out the location of a dinner I had planned for later that evening at Jaloa gastronomique. This took me to one of the Christmas Market locations which had these great carousels with interesting things to sit on -- not your typical horses. I also checked out an olive oil store that specializes in oils from Provence.