So after about 2.5 weeks of adjusting to Bethune and starting my job as a teaching assistant, I am finally on vacation. You read that right. I’m on vacation. Although, as one of my teachers pointed out, at least I’m not on strike, because that would be too French.
I promise, I will actually be working. For 12 hours per week.
For this vacation, I decided to head on my first out-of-France adventure and visit our friendly neighbours to the north, Belgium (or as the French speakers call it, Belgique). I’ve only made stopovers in Belgium, such as switching trains, and never really had a chance to explore the tiny country, although it has been at the top of my list for a while. So I booked 5 nights in a pretty cheap hotel close to a metro stop in Brussels and decided to explore Belgium as much as I could (with the knowledge that it’s less than two hours away by train from where I live, so I can return should the need or desire arise).
For the majority of the five and a half days I was in Belgium, I stayed in Brussels. I took a day trip to Bruges, and will write about that city separately. When I travel, I like to take some time to just walk around a get a feeling for a place, and that’s what I did my first half day in Brussels.
I arrived in the late afternoon on a Thursday, and walked around the Grand Place and some of the tourist areas and quickly became acquainted some local delicacies: frites and waffles.
I found that I understood why people would eat fried potatoes as a meal, and the whole point of a waffle as not a breakfast food, but I didn’t understand the point of the tiny forks. Most of the time I disregarded the forks and just used my hands, and then bought some hand sanitiser.
I found, that although Brussels is a large metropolitan city with a lot of inhabitants, it was quite pleasant to walk around in. Of course, not everything is in walking distance to everything else, but it was quite nice to walk through, and the tram and metro system pretty easy to navigate. When I could walk to somewhere I wanted to go, I would walk. But I also just decided sometimes to go down a street and see where I would end up, and luckily did not get too lost.
I loved walking in the evening, as monuments and buildings were lit up, and there was just a buzz of energy from all the people moving about and enjoying the city, which was enjoyable and exciting to be a part of.
Sundays in Europe are quiet, as most things are closed. I took the day to wake up late, eat breakfast at my hotel, and take the day slow. I actually spent the largest part of the day at the Royal Museums of Fine Arts, particularly the Magritte Museum. For someone under 25, it was only 3 euro to get access to EVERYTHING, which was pretty special.
The thing I loved the most about Brussels was just walking around in a city that I could feel was so energetic, where there was a mix of young people, government officials, and it was so diverse and interesting that I loved sitting at a cafe and just watching all of the people go by.
Brussels was such a great place to start my vacation, and this short trip was enough to make me want to see more of the country. Until next time, Belgium, thank you for being grand.