My second stop in Europe, was Brussels, Belgium. I took the Eurostar from Thameslink Station in London, to the Brussels Midi train station. On the train, I sat across from a very nice Dutch boy, named Lorenzo, also traveling alone. He was the equivalent of a sophomore in high school & he was on his way back to boarding school. We shared travel stories & before we knew it, we arrived in Brussels.
It would by my first European country where the primary language was not English, but Dutch & French. As far as Brussels Midi goes, there's little to no English signs & my first impression was not kind. Half of my attempts for assistance, ended in abruptly useless responses. Also because of the Brussels airport bombings that happened back in May, there was also the very obvious presence of Belgium soldiers, each patrolling with assault rifles. Eventually, I got my euros & a taxi to my hotel. I quickly dropped off my stuff & headed out in search of the Grand Place.
Have you been engulfed by something so beautiful, that you've forgotten to breath? That was me.
I walked from street to street with a map in hand, trying to make out the signs. Suddenly I turned a corner, looked up, and there it was! This massively breathtaking open space known as the Grand Place (or Grote Markt), bordered by buildings laced in gold. All my frustration from the train station disappeared & I just stood there. For a second, I forgot I had a camera. I just felt this warm sense of happiness & I wanted to take it in.
I had dinner at the Brussels Grill (red umbrellas), just outside of the Grand Place, along Rue du Marche aux Herbes. I quickly learned that people were pretty big on fries (or frites) here, and always with a massive amount of sauce on them. Almost anything could be served with fritz, as a starch.
There is also a large array of Belgium chocolate shops & of course, Belgium waffle stands.
After 3 days in Brussels, I can say without a doubt, it's a beautiful city. Besides the Francization of Brussels, language wise, you can also find splashes of French inspired architecture throughout the city. Also, I learned that as long as you got yourself to central Brussels, most of the great monuments, parks, and shopping centers, were in walking distance of each other. It's a city truly filled of well preserved history!
What a great linguistic transition to my next stop, France! Thanks for reading! Love, JEN