If you couldn’t tell from the title of this post, or from my previous post, I went to Belgium! Specifically Brussels (well, for this part). I have decided that henceforth, each post will only be one day, because so much happened in each day that trying to cram more than one day into a post seems unfair. So here is part 1 of my time in Belgium!
Day 158: Thursday, 2/12/2015
I didn’t get to bed the night before until about 1am, which was very unfortunate as Deborah was taking me to the airport at 4:30am. So I basically just took a longer nap and was up at 4. I gathered my stuff and we loaded it into her car. It was so cold that ice had frozen over all of her windows, and she had to use a credit card to scrape it off to see! So crazy! We arrived at the airport close to 5am, just enough time to get me checked in and through security for my 6:45am flight. Why I chose such a early flight, I can’t exactly remember.
The flight was only an hour long. For some reason I thought it was about 3 hours, and then I heard the flight attendant say we had almost arrived after I woke up from a short nap. I was very disoriented and confused. But I made it off the plane and into the country easily. I grabbed a cab, because I stupidly forgot to look up public transport ahead of time. But I was really exhausted and figured a cab would probably be the best idea for my sleepy brain. My cab driver was very nice and we spoke about the importance of knowing different languages. He speaks 7. Clearly I have some catching up to do. When we arrived at my hostel, I thanked him and headed inside.
I was staying at the Meininger Hostel, located right along the canal. I wasn’t able to check in until 3pm, something I’d anticipated, and it was only 9am. What to do… I asked the man at the front desk where I could go to grab something to eat, and he suggested a restaurant nearby. I left my suitcase and backpack in the luggage room (both with luggage locks, duh) and set out in search for food. The restaurant he suggested didn’t open until 11, but I decided to just walk around a bit on my own. I found a small supermarket and bought a banana and ate a protein bar that I had with me. Good way to start my day! Oh wait, the day had started hours ago for me. Anyway, I walked back to the hostel and sat in the lobby for a bit.
I saw online that a company called Sandeman’s did free walking tours of many big European cities. When I visited Edinburgh, Scotland in 2012, I did one of these tours and thoroughly enjoyed it. The tour left right from the hostel, so why not? I saw the guide from Sandeman’s, Charlie, walk into the lobby of the hostel and I walked towards him. Two other girls approached him as well, and we introduced ourselves. Their names were Susan and Rana (pronounced like “Dana” with an “R”). They were friends from Denver, Colorado, who told me they were traveling the globe for the next year! I noticed that Rana was wearing a Disney t-shirt, so I figured we would become friends quickly!
We walked to the meeting place of the tour with Charlie, who happened to be from London but moved to Brussels 6 years ago. He was a delight, very witty and captivating throughout the tour. We arrived at the Grand-Place, the main square of Brussels. It was really amazing!
There were about 20 other people on the tour, which I thought was quite a lot for February in Europe. But it was such a gorgeous day, thankfully, so that could have been why. Charlie began by explaining the history of the square and a bit of the history of Brussels itself. It was very fascinating, and he brought a lot of his British sense of humor to the table, which I thoroughly enjoyed.
We then walked around the city for about 3 hours, taking in the sights, learning the history, and I spoke quite a lot with Susan and Rana. We really hit it off, and we shared our previous travel experiences. They were a bit older than me, and were very impressed that I was traveling solo at such a young age. Here are all the sites I saw along the way!
After walking around, Susan, Rana, and I headed back to the hostel, where we relaxed for a few hours. We then decided to go out! We asked the front desk where to go to eat, and a different person recommended the same restaurant I’d been told about this morning. It was called Walvis, so after having a drink in the hostel’s bar, we set forth for dinner.
We looked at the menu, and none of us were quite feeling it. However, we decided to each have a beer and split a cheese plate, and then set out for real food.
Now, many of you know that I absolutely do not drink drink beer. However, when in Belgium, you drink beer, even if you hate it. That was kind of my motto. This beer, though, was actually very good! It was more of a bubbly cider drink with a cherry flavor, and it was served on the rocks. Pretty tasty, although I may not be the best judge.
When our beers were brought over, our waiter placed a wooden paddle with toothpicks, mini pickles and onions, and mustard on top of some blue checkered paper (you can kind of see it in the photo). We were slightly confused, as we hadn’t ordered it, but we went with it. After about 10 minutes though, we were wondering where our cheese was. Susan went over and asked our waiter. He thought we were asking for another one, and she said, “But we didn’t even get the first one yet.” The waiter then informed us that the cheese was in fact wrapped in the blue checkered paper. We open it up and lo and behold, a large slice of cheese was packed inside. We all started laughing hysterically at the mix-up. But how could we have possible known? Our waiter apologized and actually brought us another large slice of cheese for free. What a nice man.
We paid our bill and headed back to the Grand-Place area to find some food that was a bit more sustaining. As we walked, we were hollered at by quite a few men. One of them was particularly rude and began to follow us. When I told him to go away, he responded by saying, “I’m not talking to you. I’m talking to your friends. I don’t like big girls.” Words cannot describe how much I would’ve liked to punch this man for being such a jerk (I’d like to use another word, but I’m going to restrain myself in writing as well). I shrugged it off pretty easily, and we arrived at the Grand-Place about 10 minutes later.
We wandered around a little bit, as we really didn’t have a clue as to what we were looking for. Many things were closed, as it was kind of late. We all decided that we wanted some fries, or “frites” as they’re called in Belgium. We walked into a random bar and they gave us directions on how to get to a good fries place a few blocks away. We walked there, but couldn’t find it. We ended up walking into, no joke, a pita place! My stomach was not doing too well, so I just got some fries.
The place was empty and quiet, so we asked if we could play some music. Rana found a Taylor Swift mix on YouTube and plugged it in. The guy stepped outside multiple times while we were there. I think T-Swift may have emasculated him. The three of us all swapped our favorite drunk stories from over the years. It was a hilarious evening. We had planned to go out afterwards, but I was so exhausted from being up since 4am that we all called it a night. We headed back to the hostel and I fell straight asleep.
So that was day 1 in Belgium! What’s in store next? Just stay tuned!
-Girl in Belgium 🙂