18.12.10

Notes and Notations from Brussels: Day One

Sorry this will be text only, due to the fact I am on my hostels computer!

-if you happen to take the Eurolines/Touring bus and end up in Brussels at 6am, if you are alone, I advise you to wait inside the train station until it gets light out.

-take the time to find your hostel and explore the areas around it before jumping out to do the touristy things. I was meant to check in with my hostel, after dropping my things off around 830, at 1pm. I ended up lost, confused and bewildered at 130pm. Too bad the hostel is literally closed at this time except if you have already checked in. More wandering wiht my giant camera until 4pm.

-what are your goals for this trip? Don't plan them out! I am so glad I forgot my itenerrary at home. I just went with the wind (with a cautious watch for solo danger) and ending up finding a lot of items that I pplaced on my list and some that I hadn't. (for example the tiniest house in Brussels and The Sequence outdoor scuplture).

-Brussels has some great street art. click, click, click.

-hagglers and homeless with children in their arms seemed to be everywhere. Stick to your guns and use whatever languages skills you have to note that you don't understand or care to hear it. (pretending German was my main language instead of English helped severely)

-when in doubt head to the grocers, as it may be hard to find a good meal right away. My stomach took hold of a random frites purchase (not at the friteries I wanted, which were quite far away) and I ended up so violently full. Turns out Brussels large is much like American large, and after having lived of German large (American medium=or actually a bit smaller), I really couldn't handle the amount. I intend to pick up yogurt and fruit from the market tomorrow, since my hostel has a kitchen but no included breakfast. I already packed my homemade yogurt and dried fruit and pumpkin seeds for snacks.

-Belgium waffles--without added crap, just the oval one with sugar baked in--is quite amazing. Had to resist purchasing another (-1,80 euro; 1 euro if purchased near Mannekin Pis)

-Mannekin Pis is tiny. Like, no, really, really tiny.

-You will probably get lost. Street signs are always there but sometimes not as high profile (they are on blue on the buildings). Major spots like the Grand Place or Gare du Nord have extra signage however.

-If you have homework, and yes it's my break as well,BRING IT. You'll be happy when you end up waiting two hours in the early morning for daylight to come or decide it might not be all that safe to go out in dark.

-Don't forget that it's near Christmas! I was almost shocked to see the Weinnachtsfest of Belgium and the huge Christmas trees all around. Luckily, I was in the Grand Place when a Christmas light show came on and was printed all over the buildings. Quite amazing.

-dress further down as a solo female traveler, as I felt a number of times today men called out to me or whispered as I walked by in their native tongues. Refusing eye contact and a steady walk helped.

-Wear good walking shoes! Thank goodness I had just bought these Skechers Sport shoes for my upcoming ski trip. Perfect for snow walking and long distances. My feet are killing me. Literally this is the first time I have not sat down all day since arriving in the hostel--it's 7pm.

-Small, shoulder bags are great for keeping out theft (just imagine if someone tried to run up on you and snatch it; they'd only get the strap!) Keep valuables in hidden compartments of the bag. Someone tried to pickpocket me today, but I keep my wallet tied to my wrist with a rope (haha). It was scary but funny to see his humiliation.

-My shoulder aches so bad it hurts to move it. Don't forget to unload you bag and keep it light. Ughhhhh. Switch shoulders throughout the day, I'll be using that tip tomorrow.

Enjoy these notations and I hope your travels are going smoothly as well. I'll be sure to include pictures upon my return to Germany. Another note is while I enjoyed today, I will probably spend my last day in Gent instead or returning to Brussels right away.

P.S. Keep your loved ones close. A recent suicide within extended family really got to me today. It's a miracle that we are even on this Earth, walking. Keep your head held high and seek help when needed.

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