On Friday morning I left London fresh and early to head to the Eurostar. The Chunnel? (tunnel under the English channel) – not too scary. Not even too noticeable. The getting on to the Eurostar train (that’d be a different one) was a bit of a different story.
Everything was conspiring against me: a) I had arrived just in time for the train I had booked (usually a good thing, but….); b) my ticket wouldn’t print from the self-serve machine like its supposed to, so I had to wait in a big line for a lady to handwrite one; c) I had to go through customs and security (and didn’t know I would have to); d) the train was going to leave at least 5 minutes early (no good reason for that). So all of this made me… literally running through the station to get the train. Wow.
Anyway, before I knew it, I was in Brussels, Belgium. Unfortunately, my train stopped at “Brussels Midi” rather than the “Brussels Centrale” station. And the Brussels Midi station wasn’t on one of my guidebook maps. So I wandered aimlessly, hoping that I would make it in the right direction far enough that it would be on my little map. I discovered that Belgian people are super friendly; as soon as I as much as stopped to look at a piece of paper I would get offers of directional help.
I managed to wander the right way with the help of some Belgians, and found a sudden huge crowd of (mostly Japanese) tourists. Hm. I had apparently made it to Mannekin Pis, the most famous statue of a little boy peeing. Ever. Apparently he is always in outfits (with a special little hole) that people make him, today he was maybe… a private school boy?
I kept it going until I made it to Grand Place: very neat gilded square and cool buildings encircling… a massive beer garden!? (Pretty sure my guidebooks would have mentioned if there was usually a giant beer garden in the middle). But, as I had a Jupiler beer on a coffin in the dimly light La Cerceuil (yep, that’s “the coffin”) bar, I asked the bartender – turns out it was Beerfest. Hm. I watched and wandered, but didn’t get a beer from beerfest, because there was a huge line for the tickets necessary. It was VERY packed.
On the way back, I got a Belgian waffle with ice cream and hot fudge. Mm. Well… at least it sounds good, right? Except that it was like this: they hand you this hot waffle just on a napkin, and it’s huge, and the ice cream is melting and the chocolate is dripping and it’s so tall… and you’re supposed to just eat it. Off your hand. Needless to say, I made a really extreme mess.
And that was pretty much the end of my Belgian visit! And then I headed on to Amsterdam…