Initial Observations on Brussels:
– Ahhh Northern Europe is cold and I’m completely unprepared wardrobe-wise.
– They weren’t kidding about the number of drunk people stumbling around.
– Wow, this is the first time in Europe that they’ve served butter with bread! (Also, earlier today a friendly waiter handed me ketchup with my meal and said he knows I like ketchup… Ooh American stereotypes, even though it is true for me!)
Brussels and I didn’t get off to a great start. I got off the train to a beautiful overcast, rainy day for one. The hostel didn’t take credit cards so I had to run around looking for an ATM (I started to be moody to the reception guy, but then decided I should be nice to him since it’s not his fault and well, he holds all the power.) My hostel stinks and even though my roomies are nice they aren’t much fun – I definitely don’t plan on spending much time there. And then I got majorly lost trying to find a recommended dinner place and my umbrella turned traitor on me and cut a huge gash on my knuckle. So, imagine me holding a scarf over my hair while sucking on my knuckle with one hand and holding a soggy map with the other, all the while stepping in giant puddles and trying hard not to fall on the slippery streets — I was not a happy camper. But then with the help of a few local angels, I finally found my way to the restaurant and dove face-first into a giant bowl of moules frites (mussels). Also, the moment I sat down I got some texts from my friend who lives an hour away – he made the drive over just to hang out with me, so sweet! We hit up Delirium, a popular beer bar in the city which boasts hundreds of draft beer. For starters, I got a pint of Belarus Triple which was delicious and surprisingly 10% alcohol! Had to switch to Barbar Blonde after that just to make sure I was able to get myself home. My friend Bren was a total sweetheart though and made sure to drive me to my door so I wouldn’t have to walk home alone. Bren, it was so great to see you after all these years. I’m so happy that you’re business is thriving and I’m quite impressed by you, even though I gave you a hard time about certain things. :) Thanks so much for coming to hang out in Brussels with me, and please come visit me in NYC so I can return the favor!!
Brussels was a very interesting town to visit. The contrast between rich and poor is pretty extreme at times, with one block being super nice and the next one being graffitied and run down. At one point during my walk around town I even felt unsafe and turned around to head for a more crowded area. There is a lot of diversity, more than I expected, and I’m curious to know if the neighborhoods are more or less segregated. Oh, and most of the time I heard people speaking French over Dutch, and as Bren tells me that’s more common here even though more people should know Dutch (apparently the older people speak Dutch but not the younger ones as much.) I had 2 nights in Brussels and I think that was enough to get a good feel of the area. If I had more time I would have liked to visit other cities in Belgium, but that will have to be at another time. I hope my hostel in Amsterdam is better than the one I stayed at here, and I am sooo excited to be staying at an APARTMENT this weekend! Can’t wait to see you, Robbers!