Any way, from Wednesday to Friday, I was in Belgium with my Central College group and Steef.
We hopped on the train around noon in Leiden, took a train to the Den Haag HS station, and got on a train to Brussels. Since we got on at the beginning of the line, basically, we all got a set of seats to ourselves, which was nice. After arriving in Brussels, we left the train station and walked to our hostel where we'd stay for the next two nights. We had to cut through the center of Brussels to get there, so we had a little time to take in the city as we went. I liked Brussels right away. It was a bustling city and everywhere I went, I could see and hear French and Dutch. German is another official language of Belgium, but since the country is sandwiched between the Netherlands and France, naturally those languages are dominant. I think this was the first time I've heard French spoken ubiquitously since I was in France in 2012. I was incredibly happy! It's been a while since I heard French, but I was happy to be able to pick out more words than I thought I could, despite not having a lot of practice since leaving high school.
Since we arrived in Brussels in the afternoon, we went out and walked around Brussels for a while. Meanwhile, I took pictures:
|A church close to where we were staying in Brussels.|
|This is a shopping street. It's technically outdoor, just covered. It was covered so that when people who owned carriages wanted to go shopping, they wouldn't have to be exposed the weather. This isn't the only one of these streets in Brussels.|
|The opera house. This is also where someone (I wish I could remember who) got the idea to make Belgium its own country (before, Belgium was part of the Netherlands).|
|A memorial celebrating those who gave their lives to make Belgium a country.|
Lots of walking makes a person thirsty. So we stopped and got different flavors of beer before hunting down a place to eat. I had apple beer. The fruit beers are a dangerous type to get because they don't even taste like beer-- mine tasted like I was drinking sparkling apple juice. So good!
|Dinner that night was at the drug opera. It's not what it sounds like.|
Day two of walking around Brussels. We went a lot farther into the city than we did the day before. It does help that we got an early start.
|Belgian government building. Parliament maybe? This is the problem with waiting too long after you travel to write your blog post...|
|The park opposite the government building above.|
|Marika walking on the rounded edge of the pond (that's why Abby's helping)|
It looks like fall has really set in in Belgium, but in truth, Belgium was very, very green still. It felt like the beginning of fall. Some of the trees hadn't even started to change colors when we were there.
|We crossed this street and then we noticed that other people were crossing the street and stopping in the middle to put on a juggling show while the light was red. Good way to get attention, I guess!|
|Plants growing on the wall.|
|Part of the Berlin Wall in front of the EU Parliament.|
One of the biggest things we did on our second day in Belgium was go and visit the EU Parliament. I don't think you can actually go into Parliament itself, but there's a museum you can go in. The museum is about why the EU was created, remembers stories from around Europe, and teaches you about Parliament itself (how it works, etc.).
|Found the Netherlands!|
|The Beatles craze reaches Denmark|
|The feminist movement begins in Italy|
|First same-sex marriages in the Netherlands! 2001!!|
|There were these sensors on the floor that you wheeled over parts of Europe on the floor and you could learn more about that place.|
|The palace in Belgium|
|A church on a hill that reminded me of Notre Dame in Paris (which I'll get to see soon!).|
Abby had a friend that studied abroad in Belgium and we were told that we needed to try the cookie beer from Delirium. So we went to the Delirium village and we got some. Delirium is famous for having 2,004 beers on tap at once at one point in time.
|Cookie beer is disgusting.|
The next morning, we woke up, got our stuff together, had breakfast, and then went and caught the train to Bruges. We had a one hour train ride from Brussels. I met a nice lady on the train whom I absolutely admired. She knows so many languages and she's looking to learn more. She also wants to travel more. She was an older lady too, so to have that drive to travel for long periods of time (she was talking about spending a month in Portugal, since she's learning Portuguese, and she expressed a desire to see more of the U.S., although finding a place to stay for a month or more has proven to be expensive and a little hard for her to find. I hope she makes it to the U.S. again. I know she'll make it to Portugal.
|Swans loving each other.|
|Bruges city hall.|
|We went into this church. It claimed to have a sample of the blood of Jesus Christ from the crucifixion. I did go up to see.|
Thanks for Reading! Next week, I'll do my best to make a post about Paris.