Not Enough Time in Belgium

After an adventurous weekend in Morocco, we were able to get a few short hours of sleep before we needed to get on a train to Madrid.  The Feria was still going on in Sevilla, making it extremely hard to find a taxi.  All of the taxis focus on the area of the city where the festival was happening, so it was tough luck for us to find one.  Our train was at 6:00am, so we got up bright and early at 4:30am (not really bright, it was actually still pitch black outside) to make sure we had enough time to pack and get to the terminal.  We waited, and walked, and waved down countless taxis, only to see that they were occupied.  Before we knew it, an hour had passed just waiting on the street, and it was 5:40am.  We started to get desperate so we began to walk towards the area of the Feria.

Finally, 10 minutes before our train, one godsend of a taxi found us and drove the 8 minutes to the train station.  (I’ve never said muy rapido, por favor more times in my life) With two minutes to find our train, we threw the driver some money, grabbed my giant suitcase, and flew threw the train terminals.  By some act of God, there was a lady waiting at the gate for any late arrivals, a.k.a us.  She radio’d the conductor telling him to wait and took our tickets.  We dashed onto the first car of the train, not even caring if it was the right one.  As soon as we got all of our bags on, we collapsed onto the floor in the middle of the walkway.  We sat there for a good 15 minutes before we had enough energy to find our seats.  I still could not believe we had made it.

Finally, we got settled into our seats for the train ride and passed out.  We woke up in Madrid, ready to just sleep for the next three days.  All of us had begun to feel sick, and it did not help that we were running on four hours of sleep.  Unfortunately, we had a flight that very same afternoon to Brussels. I was excited to visit a new country, but also just in need of a long rest.  We got to Madrid and rode over with my cousins to their apartment.  (If you did not know, I randomly found out I had family in Madrid)  We ate a wonderful meal of Filipino food (oh how I missed it) and repacked our stinky, wrinkled clothes.  I was able to leave my huge purple suitcase at their house so I did not have to lug it around anymore.

We departed for Brussels slightly more refreshed and ready to see Belgium.  In typical RyanAir fashion, we had to take an hour long bus from the airport to the city centre.  When we arrived, we still had to walk about a mile to our airBNB.  It was a glorious feeling when we were actually in the room.  That was one of the longest days of my life, and I was ready to have a quick snack and then pass out for the night.  Unfortunately, it was one of the worst apartments I have stayed in.  The WiFi was nonexistent, the beds were dirty, it was freezing, and I just felt generally uncomfortable the whole time.  The only pro was that it was right in front of city hall, and there was a food truck assembly there that day.  We had some much-deserved dinner and tried out some Belgian waffles.  All of the people we chatted with were friendly and charming. Belgian people are very nice even though the amount of native tongues confuses me.  We turned in early because we had only begun to feel more sick, and we needed to sleep.

The next day, we took a day trip to Amsterdam, but I will talk about that in the next blog post.  The day after our Amsterdam day-trip, we were able to get a little glimpse of Brussels.  We had no particular itinerary, so we decided to just head over to the city centre and wander around.  Usually, wandering around gives rise to some amazing memories, but not in this instance.  It was a beautiful city, but there was not really much to do.  This was the only time that I wish I had research more before-hand.  I’m sure there was an abundance of things to see and do, but we just did not know where to go.  It did not help that we had no WiFi at our apartment, and we were not willing to shell out hundreds of dollars on international data just to TripAdvisor about Brussels.

We visited Grand Place, Manneken Pis, Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert, and Delirium.  Grand Place is the main plaza in Brussels.  After walking around in circles, we were finally able to find the square.  I’m sure that if I had not been oversaturated by European architecture, I would have appreciated it more, but after 5 months of seeing amazing squares and beautiful buildings, it did not really stand out to me anymore.  After that, my cousin mentioned a famous statue that we could see, so we walked over to the Manneken Pis.  It was much smaller than I had pictured it, and it was completely surrounded by a crowd of tourists.

I snapped a few pictures, and then we had to decide what to do with the rest of our time.  We wandered around for a little bit before we stumbled upon the Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert, one of the oldest shopping malls in the world.  It is even older than the famous Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II located in Milan.  We found an abundance of chocolate stores, so we decided to try out some Belgian chocolates.  I guess I am not cut out for the food critic life, because those chocolates tasted exactly the same as any regular chocolate bar I could get at a store.  It was sweet, and it tasted like, well, chocolate.

I had heard about Delirium from some friends who had visited Brussels previously, and everyone raved about it.  We wanted to go to the bar later in the day, but we had nothing left to do, so we decided to just kill a few hours with some beers.  This bar is famous not only because it is huge, but also because they have over thirty types of beer on tap, and I think they even make all of it.  My cousins and I are complete girls when it comes to drinks, so we tried their fruitiest beers, which also had a surprisingly high alcohol content. Sadly, we started to get bored fast because there were only a few people inside, given it was only 6pm.  We had no idea what to do with the remainder of the day, and we even contemplated going to a burlesque show.  Unfortunately, we could not find the place, and we eventually gave up.

To end the day, I was able to copy down the WiFi code for one of the restaurants in that famous mall.  It was a funny coincidence because one of the fancy malls near my hometown actually has a branch of the same restaurant, and I went there a couple of times for breakfast with my boyfriend.  Le Pain Quotidien.  We sat in front of that restaurant for a good two hours just catching up on our emails, Facebooks, and Instagrams.  It makes me sad to think how dependent I have become on my phone.  The night ended when we were asked to leave by a security guard, because we probably did look very sketchy just hanging out in our hobo clothes in a really fancy mall.

I was stressing out because my cousin Kim and I had been planning to walk part of the Camino in Spain in two days.  We were very unprepared, and Kim was starting to get more and more sick.  I was unsure of what was going to happen, but I was happy that we were going back to Spain the next day.  Spain had become a second home to me, and there was something comforting about hearing Spanish all day and not even understanding all of it.

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