Early March, fresh off of a week of temperatures around -25°C(-13°F) at home in Central Pennsylvania, I land at Brussels with about 85 pounds of luggage for my 5 week(mostly solo) vacation, hoping for some warm(er) weather. Since I was all about cutting corners during my vacation(save for scuba at Malta) I chose to take the Metro to my Hostel at Grand Place. As I stepped out of the metro onto the cold, rainy and gloomy looking street for a 25 min walk to downtown Brussels a wave of apprehension swept over me.
Can I travel by myself to a foreign land and be all right? Will I find things to do, or find people to talk to, despite the language barrier(my high school French is very rusty)? Will this ruin my entire vacation? I had several thoughts run through my head as I lugged my heavy luggage, completely exhausted to my hostel. Within five minutes of getting to the hostel and putting my bags in the storage locker I chat up a guy from Amsterdam off we went to the famous Delirium bar to grab a cold pint. Not a bad start to my vacation at all.
The warm weather Gods shined down upon me and I was soon able to walk around the beautiful downtown, take pictures, eat and drink my way around.
Walking should get you around most of the touristy places very easily. And you can feast your eyes upon beautiful murals on the way. And if you are a Tintin fan like me, you are in for a treat. Tintin murals everywhere!
The diverse multi-faceted architectural styles of Belgium ranging from Baroque, Gothic and traditional European to post-modern was enough to get me lost in its beauty as I wandered aimlessly staring at its romantic beauty. Before long I got lost and ended up in an area packed with stunning art on display, which I only had the pleasure of looking at from the windows since it was a Sunday. As I asked for directions back to downtown and received them from a kid who only spoke French, I felt a sense of accomplishment using my rusty high school french to communicate with.
As I write this post more than 6 months after my visit, I can’t help but wonder at the people. Multi-cultured, multi-lingual and sharply dressed, they looked so fit. A sharp contrast from what I am used to seeing in India or the United States, especially with downtown Brussels strewn with chocolate shops and pastry shops like these!
I only spent 3 nights at Brussels. It was mostly an add-on country to my list of countries because it was cheaper to add as a stopover en-route to Chennai, India. But it wasn’t enough. I need to go back.