It’s crazy to think that while living in such a central location in Europe I’m able to hop on a bus for 3 hours an be in another country; 4 hours past that I could be in another. When I eventually decided to Au Pair in Paris I knew that throughout the year my plan would be to see as many places as I could whether it be on the weekends or on my weeks off when the french children have their vacation. I started planning this trip a month or so ago and chose Brussels and Amsterdam because since it was going to be my first (or so I thought before i spontaneously went to Rome a couple weeks ago) trip outside of France and I wanted to go somewhere close.
When I booked my bus tickets to Brussels, picking the earliest 8:30 bus seemed like a great option at the time… until i had to wake up at 6. I had packed m small suitcase the night before so it wasn’t a huge task this morning to get ready to go. I’m using this trip as a experiment to see how well it goes with a wheeled suitcase. I really didn’t want to bring it but my north face bag just wasn’t big enough for everything I wanted to take. That’s one of the worst parts of travelling when the weather gets cold is the amount of clothing you need seems to double in size.
While I was getting dressed I got a surprise good morning kiss from my little girl this morning which made the fact that I was up so early so much better. Every morning when she wakes up she yells for her mother and father to come down to get her out of bed (why she can’t get out of it herself, beats me) so when she came into my room this morning I was shocked but so pleased.
I found this company actually just by googling the cheapest ways to get from Paris to Brussels and when I saw the price I wasn’t really sure what to expect considering it was only 19 euros for a one way ticket. 19 euros to travel to another country sounds a bit too cheap especially since the bus included free wifi aboard and plug ins for electronics, but I figured I would give it a shot. First task was to find the bus Which ended up being really easy considering it’s bright blue and the meeting point was in a pretty central location (Bercy station).
Upon boarding the bus I was surprised that it was a very newly designed and clean bus with spacious seats. I found my seat quite quickly considering I was number 5 and thankfully no one ended up being beside me so I had lots of room.
We were approaching Brussels and already I could see comparisons to Canada. There were actual fields of grass and i even saw a tractor, what do you know. We were just about to the station when the bus stopped abruptly and of course i didn’t’ have my seat belt on because I was putting my jacket on. Let’s just say I had quite the close interaction with the seat ahead of me. Turns out we hit a guy on a motorcycle in front of us. I’m not sure what words were exchanged between he driver and the poor guy but they didn’t seem too happy. We just continued on after that as if nothing had happened which seems completely odd to me but I got to Brussels alive so I guess that’s all that matters.
Arriving in Brussels
The bus dropped us off on the side of the road in front of one of the biggest stations in Brussels so here I am thinking i’m going to spend all day just trying to find the metro to where I need to go. I was actually pretty proud of my sign following skills and within 20 mins I had purchased a ticket and was standing on a much cleaner and nicer smelling metro than in Paris.
I got off the stop that I had been told the hostel and walked out into none other than a shopping mall. I knew I was a couple hours early for check in so I roamed around the shops to see how different they were or actually weren’t. Once I realized that lugging a rolling suitcase into tiny shops wasn’t all that much fun I left to find the hostel the next street over and checked in but left my luggage in the luggage room.
During the day I just roamed the cobblestone streets and did probably too much window shopping considering i knew I couldn’t buy anything.. That night I knew that I wanted to drink a beer somewheres in belgium so I figured I would head to the bar with the cheapest happy hour.
1 euro per stella and 2 euro for the rest of the beer on tap, oh and come o find out the bar is owned by a canadian! I went alone to the bar but ended up chatting with the bartender for a while until I met a group of students who invited me to go to supper with them. Little did I know where or what I would be eating… It was an all you can eat sushi buffet and I’m not a huge sushi fan but it was 30 euros a person… (wasn’t too impressed about this but I couldn’t turn around after I sat down).. so I ended up stuffing myself full of food I didn’t like but it was eventful to say the least.
I actually slept amazingly well for being in a room with 5 other girls. I was the first to wake up, or at least move in the room so I tried to be quiet and not wake them up, but than I gave up. I headed downstairs for the free breakfast that the hostel offers not really knowing what to expect but to hopefully fill my stomach. Let’s just say if you like bread this is the place for you. I eat baguette too often in Paris to really want to stuff myself with that here but hey, it was free and I was hungry. After asking for 3 coffees because the cups were the size of a shot glass I headed out for the day to get a start on some sightseeing.
One thing that I am loving about this trip is that I have no access to any sort of internet while i’m roaming the streets so i’ve had to resort back to the past and use a good old paper map that I was given at my hostel.
It was beginning to get darker and I had already ate supper so I was actually debating on just heading to my hostel room for the evening until I walked into the lobby and heard some guys speaking English. Me being myself I said “you speak English?!” ( my go to conversation starter)
Turns out two of the guys were from Belgium and one of them was an up and coming artist. After seeing his work I was literally amazed by how great he was and it was all self taught. Check out his Facebook page here and you’ll see the crazy artwork he does, including customized shoes! The other guy was from the german university group that was staying in the hostel and invited me to go out to a couple bars with them that evening. Considering i was the only english speaker apart from him I was apprehensive but figured it could make an interesting story.
The group was very standoffish but I ended up talking to one girl on our way there until we got to the bar. Oh the bar… Imagine a halloween themed room supposedly considered a bar. It was the creepiest place I had ever been but it was an experience thats for sure. I started to feel extremely tired and out of place so I headed back to the hostel which some how took a good 20 mins to get back to.
I couldn’t pass up seeing the Grand Place at night time.
My sleep the second night didn’t even compare to the first night. I was awoken by another girl who had to leave at 4:30 and then again at 7:30 by someone s alarm clock that was blaring classical music. I figured I would get a start on the day so I headed downstairs for some breakfast and chose to make a typical Parisian sandwich this morning consisting of cheese, ham and none other than baguette. I thought it would be a good idea to shower considering no one was left in the room so I paid 1 euro for a towel and cleaned myself up.
I left around 10 for the 45 minute walk to the train station where the bus was picking me up. I quickly realized that I left way too early and ended up coffee hopping between the cafes in the station which all seemed to not have wifi.. Come on it’s almost 2015 wifi should be accessible everywhere!
Oh and I may have found a shop that sold questbars and if any of you know me well enough im addicted to these bars even though I don’t work out at all which is what they are intended for haha. Pin france they don’t carry them anywheres so I’ve been getting them shipped in but I came across a nutrition store here that sold them for a steep price of 3,20 euros each bar but once again I had to buy at least a couple; as in 6
I went into multiple beer shops to look around but didn’t plan on buying any because I would have to bring it back with me but of course I came across this one. It was named La Cress, and I couldn’t leave without it.
A must see cafe in Brussels carrying over 3000 different beers.
If you’re in brussels in don’t try a waffle, than you’re not doing it right. Only one euro for one of these delicious creations!
So many choices.