Day 21: I got absolutely no sleep the previous night. Maybe like 2 hours? I had to wake up at 6am to get ready, climbing down the 3 story bunk bed was a tad entertaining. I spent most of the day on the bus. Didn’t sleep much, zoned out to some music and pondered life’s mysteries (not really). When I got to my hostel the attendant wasn’t mean but wasn’t nice either. The hostel rooms were across the street from the actually hostel where the kitchen and breakfast were severed. No one was in my hostel room but the other 3 bunks were taken, including the one I was suppose to sleep in and I was missing a blanket. Wasn’t feeling too optimistic about Brussels at that point.
However, after a while my first roommate came in, Megan. Half Spanish, half English, but grew up in Hong Kong! I knew we’d get along. She’ll be in Brussels for 6 months for an internship and was at the hostile while she was looking for an apartment. After finishing my left over sandwich for dinner Megan and I headed to the hostel bar where Megan knew two guys she had met earlier in the day would be. Belgium beer is delicious and cheap! We found the medics, as Megan called them, (they’re studying medicine in Dublin but from California and Canada). We had a couple beers and enjoyed each other’s good company.
Day 22: Megan was off to figure out her living situation and I was off for the cities free tour but we headed down to breakfast together first. I really need to start eating more breakfast but I’m just not a breakfast person! I’m already getting tired of bread for breakfast ha but at least they have some meat this time. And the hot chocolate is AMAZING I had 3 cups.
Whenever I get to a free walking tour I always scan the crowed for the other solo travelers and kind of stalk them until I can make conversation. Today was a little different, as I was already standing near a couple other travelers our tour guide wanted to know where we were all from and then told us to introduce ourselves to the people around us for 30 seconds. The guy to my left was from Valdez, Alaska and his jaw just about hit the cobblestone when I said I had been there before. Friend number one! Then I talked to two guys who said they were from San Diego but were actually from Orange County. Upon further discussion I learned they were taking a gap year before University and only 19, one didn’t even know what Guinness was and he was heading to Dublin next! The Alaskan works in the oil business and his work schedule is 3 weeks on then 3 weeks off, he was heading back the next day but then in 3 weeks he’s going to Thailand, then after that Japan. He’s been to Europe and South America multiple times. It’s a pretty sweet set up. Then I met a guy from Slovenia who found really cheap Ryan Air tickets so decided to take of week off of school haha. And last was a guy from Singapore on holiday.
The actual tour: Manneken pis is apparently the 3rd most known statue in the world. I had never heard of it until I got to Brussels. He has his own personal tailor who has made over 800 suits for him and they routinely dress him up. Sadly he wasn’t dressed up when I was in town but I found some pictures online.
We walked around the city square and at first glance the city hall is a beautiful building but the more you look at it you realize it’s still beautiful but completely unsymmetrical! The main arch isn’t lined up with the top of the tower, one side is longer than the other, and a different stone maker did each section so even the window frames are all different as well.
The rest of the tour was a little bland with sprinkles of rain here and there. Although we did stop halfway through for a beer break and the bar tender gave us to go cups due to the tour, that was a first. After the tour the 4 of us solo travelers (the two guys from California split off) we went on the hunt for fries. I really got to see Brussels that day, we walked a total of about 9 miles :O We walked through the European Parliament building on our way to the fries and all the bars along the street say ‘fries welcome’, cause if you give a traveler a shit ton of fries, they’re going to want a beer to go with it. On our way back to the city center we took a detour to the 50th Anniversary Park/Gate. If it had been a bit warmer out I would have loved to just sit in the park.
After the park on our way back to the city center Alaska and I stopped at the old church. Slovenia and Singapore had split off to head to a beer tour. At the end we stood on top of the steps and talked for a while, about travel and politics and ended with the most realistic goodbye of my travels so far. “Well, safe travels and have a good life.” Cause realistically majority of the people I meet on this trip I’ll probably never see again.
Back at the hostel Megan and I were the only two ones still checked in. When she got back from looking at another apartment we went to the store and grabbed a cheap dinner. The chocolate mouse we got for desert was delicious! After that we stayed up talking in bed a little later than I had planned haha but hey it had been a while since I had proper late night girl talk in person.
Day 23: I am so glad I went to Brugge and on a tour vs. by myself. It was a cute little town and I could have walked around by myself but it was more informative to have a guide explain everything, help with the train, and people to talk to. There were only 3 others, a couple from Seattle and a girl from Italy taking a week to travel before classes started, another cheap Ryan Air purchase.
Brugge was the first city I’d been to that had proper canals so that was a big part of the attraction for me, even in the rain the canals looked gorgeous with the golden trees along the bank or green and red ivy winding up the stone walls.
We ended the tour at the Half Moon Brewery where we had some more delicious beer and cheese. After that our tour guide headed back but left us all with open tickets so we could return whenever we wanted, so Italy and I decided to stay and look around a little more. The city’s main income is tourists coming in for the day from Brussels so by the evening the streets were emptying. We wandered around the shops and went into a couple. The chocolate shops smelled SO good and the chocolates were so delicious. To get more attention though they had some very raunchy shaped chocolates.
I don’t know how Italy read the signs so fast but we had no problem getting back into the city, or figuring out where to get off. If I had been by myself I probably would have gotten lost again haha.
Back at the hostel Megan and I had some more girl time, then about 11 two new girls came in and didn’t really speak English, so we started fb messaging haha.
Day 24: New roommates are very bad at being quiet, I mean I could tell they were trying but they weren’t doing very well. They work me up at 7:30 when they left for breakfast. Megan had been leaving at 7 if not 6:30 every morning for work and never woke me up. I packed up my things, ate breakfast, packed a sandwich for later and was off again.
I usually walk from the station to wherever I’m staying, I’ve lucked out that people either meet me or it ranges between 10-25 minutes away. The stop in Amsterdam to my hostel was 2.5 hours walking distance :O The bus to pick us up in Brussels was about 40 minutes late so I chatted with a young couple from Canada who were also backpacking.