This past weekend I took my first trip outside of the UK to Belgium and boy did it exceed my expectations! Me and Michelle woke up at 5 am (surprisingly I had to wake HER up!) and made it to the St. Pancras train station to leave at 6:50. We were barely awake but still so excited to get out of London for the weekend. We arrived in Brussels at 10 am local time and with no real plan of where to go or what to do we exited the station and attempted to conquer the buses. Only knowing a few phrases in French, and by a few I mean “bonjour”, “merci” and “bonne nuit”, we struggled so we eventually gave up and took a cab to La Grand Place. Immediately we were taken aback by the beautiful city center with it’s golden buildings and cobble streets. We immediately settled into a cute cafe and drank hot chocolate with the view of Grand Place around us. The hot chocolate was unbelievable and the first of MANY amazing foods we tried over the weekend. We spent the next 4 or so hours exploring the area. We walked through shops, looked like total tourists taking pictures left and right and stopped every so often since we were carrying our entire weekends worth of clothes on our backs! It felt great to just wander the city and not feel worried about being lost or having any responsibilities.
Later in the evening we met up with two other Regents girls that we ironically ran into two times during the day, at a beer tour. We spent the night hopping to 4 different bars, trying Belgian Trappist beers ranging from 9 to 10.5% alcohol content. We had a great time and met people from Canada, Ireland and Australia who were also traveling through Brussels for the weekend! Half way through the beer tour we stopped and got our first Belgian waffle which was fabulous and made us so happy since we’d only been drinking beer for dinner. Oops. Only in Brussels 🙂
On Saturday we took the train to Brugge, a small medieval city an hour north of Brussels. I immediately fell in love with Brugge. Every five steps was a different picture to take. Tiny houses lined the cobble streets and horse carriages took people on rides through the city. We went into beautiful Gothic Cathedrals and had Belgian fries in Markt Square, the center of the city. In Belgium they double fry their fries and eat them with mayo. The first time I wasn’t daring enough to try it with mayo but I knew I needed the full experience and let me say, as disgusted with myself as I felt doing it, they were pretty good! In Brugge we found this adorable chocolate shop that one of Michelle’s family members had recommended to us. I felt so grateful for the recommendation considering there are chocolate shops on EVERY corner in Brugge and Brussels. Knowing where to go was ideal and Dumon, a family owned store, was the perfect place. We spent the rest of the weekend snacking on the truffles whenever we had a spare moment to stop and think about them. Rough life 😉
After getting back from Brugge I was exhausted from the train ride (20 girl scouts yelling and squealing for an hour and running back and forth to the bathroom!) and wanted to go back to the hotel to nap before going out. Michelle on the other hand wanted to go to L’Atomium so she convinced me we HAD to go so I caved. We mastered the Brussels metro-which saved us from a HUGE cab fee- and our jaws DROPPED when we say it out the window of the subway. It’s hard to explain to those that haven’t seen it how incredible this attraction is. Basically it’s a 335 foot replica of an atom. We were shell shocked and wide eyed and SO happy that it had been worth the trip to go see it. After taking what felt like 100 photos and exclaiming “oh my gosh” just as many times, we headed back into central Brussels and had a real Italian meal that was much needed. After, we headed to Delirium, a famous bar known for it’s extensive beer list (over 2,000!). We ordered a Pink Elephant, a Delirium must and voted as one of the best beers in the world. It wasn’t my favorite, but what can I say, I’m definitely no beer enthusiast. Next we tried a Pink Killer, easily the girlyest, sweetest, most awesome beer ever 🙂 After waffle #2 and a little help stealing the Pink Elephant glass (elephant obsessed if you didn’t already catch on) from our American friend Eric, we headed home to get some rest before our journey back to the UK!
This weekend was filled with tons of “pinch me” moments and moments where I felt so unbelievably blessed to have this experience. Belgium’s atmosphere was so carefree, wild and beautiful that by the first night I was flooded with euphoria for the city. Everyone we came across was so helpful to us as tourists that didn’t know barely any French. Watching the teenagers wander the streets with their friends made me realize how much freedom they have at a younger age than Americans. I have to say…Europeans know what they’re doing 🙂