Thanks for checking back in for recap post number two of three from my Vacances de la Toussaint trip to Paris—Brussels—Amsterdam—Rotterdam! If you missed the first recap post, you can find that here.
Mercredi, 25 octobre 2017
We left Paris at 14h00 but didn’t arrive in Brussels until nearly 20h00 (for reference, we should have arrived at 17h50) because we hit a lot of traffic just after crossing the border into Belgium. Thankfully, our Brussels agenda was really light and flexible, so we didn’t end up missing out on anything we wanted to do.
After checking into our hostel, we ate dinner at a random restaurant near the Grand Palace before heading to the highly-recommended Delirium Café for a drink. Delirium is most widely known for their Guinness Book of World Records title for Most Beers Commercial Offered—their menu offers more than 2500 beers! Alli and I both tried the Delirium Red (a cherry-flavored beer) the first night and it is now one of my personal favorites.
While we were sitting in a booth enjoying our beers, there was a group of people around our age sitting behind us, cheering and shouting and having a grand old time in the bar. As they noticed we were sitting there quietly observing, they introduced themselves to us, explaining they were from the Ukraine and the little chant they were shouting was their way of doing “Cheers” in Ukrainian. They were such an interesting group and so incredibly friendly! We spent a long time talking with them until finally returning to our hostel and heading to bed.
Jeudi, 26 octobre 2017
On Thursday morning, Alli and I ate breakfast near the hostel before heading out to Neuhaus to buy some chocolate (because when in Belgium, am I right?!).
I had a small French win with the worker at Neuhaus. When we arrived at the shop, the guy working behind the counter asked what language(s) Alli and I spoke. Now normally, I am very intimidated to speak French with strangers and will automatically revert to English, but he was so friendly I told him I spoke a little French. After I asked him a question about the chocolates and he explained the differences between them all to us, he complimented me on my French (lol, what, that never happens to me). While he didn’t really have that much to base the compliment on and he might have thought differently if he would have tried to carry on the conversation with me, it was kind of nice to hear that even though I struggle daily with French, I’m probably not as inept as I think I am.
After buying our chocolates, we saw the Grand Palace, walked through a park, and saw the ever-famous Manneken Pis Statue. After all the hype, I was expecting the statue to be pretty big or fancy but I saw sorely mistaken; it’s small and honestly, nothing special in my eyes, but to each their own.
We grabbed lunch at a Kebab restaurant (the students I work with will be so proud that I finally tried one!), walked around for a bit, and headed back to the hostel to relax a bit. When we had been walking around earlier in the day, I had seen a sign for a René Matisse Museum that I was interested in visiting. After discovering it was only 2 euros to get in (gotta love being under 26 and in Europe!), I persuaded Alli to go with me.
I had seen a René Matisse exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in Chicago a few summers ago (including the famous “Ceci n’est pas une pipe” painting), and I was excited to learn more about Matisse and his work. The museum was really nice and worth a visit if you are at all interested in his paintings.
Alli and I decided that after the museum was the perfect time for an afternoon waffle and they did not disappoint. Holy moly, was it delicious.
To help burn off some of the calories consumed in that waffle, we walked around the city on the lookout for the comic strip walls that are located in various places around Brussels.
When we returned to the hostel to relax, we ended up spending a good amount of time talking to two of the girls in the bunk next to ours, one from Canada and the other from Finland. As both of them were wanting to go to Delirium, the four of us headed to the bar and spent the evening talking, laughing, and drinking really great beer. Being the non-night owl that I am, I ended up turning in early (around 1:30 in the morning) while the others went strong until at least 3am (honestly, I commend those who are capable of functioning that late into the evening—that is just not possible for me 99% of the time).
Vendredi, 27 octobre 2017
Our time in Brussels on Friday was short and sweet—we had a 9am bus to catch! After my first experience with Flixbus on Wednesday being late, we were hoping for a quick and painless bus ride to Amsterdam. If you catch where this is going, that did not happen.
First, we received a text informing us that our bus was 20 minutes late. Then, after we boarded the bus and left the station, the driver had to turn around because he had been informed that he accidentally left some people behind. After we pulled into the station, the driver had a heated conversation with either another driver of a Flixbus operator, but it ended up that we all had to get off the bus, grab our luggage, and board the other bus, even though both were headed to the same location. The whole debacle delayed us another hour, but soon enough, we were on our way to Amsterdam!
Thanks for reading all the way to the end. Check back later this week for the third installment of my vacation recap!
Until next time,