8.1.11

Solo Brussels

The explanation of what it was really like to take a first solo-trip never came to the blog. Well, here it is. To be simple, I loved it in the daytime, the early afternoons and for the first three days. For a whole week and during nighttime, well, not so much. Brussels was a really lovely city full of great wall graffiti and interesting turns and corners, but it was also, to me as an outsider, quite shady. I did not feel safe at all during the night hours, and even sometimes in the morning I felt terribly scared. Coming from San Francisco, where I walked alone at night sometimes, it really shouldn't have been a thought. But coming from my last five months in Germany, it was almost a complete shock.
 
 
 
snapshots of the city

SHOCK 1: The homeless in Brussels were quite aggressive and never seemed to stop. Literally every corner was littered with them and their children, separate or together, asking for English speakers and money. It was sad but also annoying. I've never seen fake 'waterworks' so many times in my life.
SHOCK 2: Blatant harassment in the streets. In Germany, no one will whistle to catch your attention or call out to announce that they are fond of you. Brussels, eh, they don't care. I found myself lost in the city at times, having to turn behind and look to see where I wanted to end up next, and ended up being harassed by men calling out to my from up on the street. Thinking of myself as a very 'aggressive as needed' person, I wasn't as scared as I was annoyed, and certainly didn't want to end up in the same situation at night, since I knew no one in the city nor the map of it.

These shocks did nothing to really detour me from every going on a solo-trip again however. [see here] I learned a lot about the way I work and deal with situations that occur. It made me finally aware of things I did all the time and it got me over a lot of 'just there' barriers such as language (French and Dutch-I speak neither) and safety (learning what to do when you've ended up on the wrong side of town-and fast.)

***Keep a map, a phone (even if it doesn't work overseas), a compass, and something for emergencies like a safety whistle or pepper spray. It's not that you need it, but you will feel much safer with it by your side.
***Another thing, help out fellow solo travelers! It did nothing but bring a smile to my face when a saw another solo-traveler holding up their map and looking confused. The first time I helped someone, he was actually going to the MIM, somewhere I had been just the day before and had just passed. It felt good to know that I made a little part of their travel easier. Admittedly, I had walked right past him knowing he was confused, but couldn't bear to leave it at that. What would I have liked in that situation?

more little updates. more little trip notes. maybe two in one day. see you soon!

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