I am completely guilty of underestimating Belgium. If you get the chance to study abroad or travel to Europe, DO NOT MISS THIS PLACE. Belgium was full of waffles, chocolate, and surprises.
First off, remember when you get there, that you will have an hour bus ride to the city…and then realize that the bus will not take you to the safest part of the city.
We ran into a few snags on the way to the official downtown area that threw me, in the truest sense of the cliche, for a loop. We found ourselves walking in a circle until we finally found a train station that took us to the true downtown center.
When we got there, we were all starving and there was an apparition….a waffle truck. Let me tell you, worth every penny at twice the price. We each bought a tasty treat to tie us over and after some walking, found ourselves in the middle of a beautiful square.
These buildings had an incredibly decorative architecture. The top of these buildings were highlighted by figurines and etched with gold. The feeling to continue looking up was overwhelming.
In the center of the square there was also a larger than life nativity set and Christmas tree which drew everyone’s attention. We definitely fell into the tourist category because of the copious amounts of photos we insisted on taking.
After we gawked, we grew more and more hungry. By a stroke of luck, we found a restaurant where we payed 12.95 euros for a four course meal. We sat for about an hour and when we left, it fell dark.
I made the executive decision to make my way to the Starbucks in the corner of the square because I was losing touch with the world due to low levels of caffeine in my system. While I was waiting in a huge line, I saw some flashing outside. When I was done, I walked out to mass amounts of people looking up. Music was playing and to the beat of the music, Brussels put on a light show, using the buildings as a backdrop.
It was getting late and it was time to check into our Air BnB. Our apartment was in a high rise with an incredible view of the city, complete with all the modern amenities you could think of. I consumed some more caffeine, then it was time to go exploring once again.
We headed to “Mannequin Pis” which is exactly what it sounds like. Essentially, it’s a little boy peeing into a fountain and it is one of the most popular attractions in Belgium.
This statue is very small…about 61 centimeters and dates itself back to the 15th century. The statue has been stolen time after time again but has always returned to it’s spot. Unfortunately, in 1817 the mannequin had to be replaced due to a sneaky prisoner that stole the original.
Since it was a very short trip, it was already late and it was time to unwind. We ended up at a famous bar called Delirium. Let me tell you, everyone knew about it because I could barely walk or breathe in there. It took about half hour to buy a beer. But of course, like most things these past few months, it was worth the wait. We found a table in the corner that magically fit us around it. We sat and laughed at ourselves and at the other people around the bar (surprisingly mostly American and British), and then after some very drawn out yawns we took a cab to our Air BnB.
With a 8:30am wake up call, a missed bus, and a 130 euro cab ride, we were back at the airport, ready for a long nap and a gyro when we got back to Athens.