This is my blog from my Study Abroad experience in Europe, and my travels through the summer.
Friday, January 29, 2010
We arrived in Brussels Friday evening and had made a reservation at a hostel beforehand so at least the lot of us didn't have to worry about actually finding a place to stay in Brussels. While walking from the train station to our hostel we met these three Dutch guys trying to find their way around as well. I'm excited to, while travling, just meet up with all these random people and make friends along the way.
After getting dinner and hanging out in our hostel for a while most people were pretty tired but Nick, Ashley, Jennica, Jared and I decided to go out and see the nightlife. We walked into the first bar we found which seemed like a lot of fun. There were rows and rows of tables in the bar and that's what people used as a dancefloor. Everyone would get up on the tables to dance, and then walk around and/or socialize down below. It was an interesting concept and worked pretty well.
The five of us stayed at that same bar until around 5am when we decided to go home. The way home was the actual adventure though. We knew we were going in the right direction but everyone (except Jared who wandered off on his own)was following Ashley who happened to take a wrong turn somewhere and led us walking down this busy road with a very narrow sidewalk on the side. We should have known it wasn't the right way when a few cars passing honked at us. Eventually we came up to a tunnel which led to who-knows-where and the sidewalk even stopped. At this point we had the choice of turning around and starting over, or climbing the fence to our left into a city-garden. We of course climbed the fence and then walked toward the exit. As expected, the gate was closed and was a gate about 15 ft high which we (especially the girls) weren't about to climb. The only solution was to climb up onto the sidewalk above the tunnel. After I got up and over, I had to pull Jennica and Ashley from above while Nick supported their feet from below. In retrospect that decision was really dumb because of the 30 foot drop below to the road, but it worked out in the end.
Saturday was our only full day in Brussels so we wanted to make the most of it. Ashely, Elisa and I got an earlier start than the rest of the group so we were on our own to explore Brussels. We went to the art, chocolate and beer museums and just walked around the city in general. There was a really nice park we walked through and the town square was beautiful, but very touristic. We met up with the other UC kids in the town square but it soon started raining so we went back to the hostel to take a naps and rest.
Everyone in our group went out on Saturday night. We went to a few bars around town square and had a lot of trouble getting into places. This is the first time I've experienced a strong anti-American bias, but some bouncers flat-out said that we couldn't come in because we were Americans. We eventually went to another bar and danced for a while. There were very few girls there and a lot of the guys were gay so it might have been a hot-spot for that. We did, however, run into a large group of American military guys who work security at the Embassy which was a nice connection because the Belgians don't speak nearly as much English as the Dutch.
The way home (after the 5am McDonalds run) was uneventful for everyone except Jared, who got lost, couldn't find his way back and ended up sleeping on the metro all night. He unfortunately lost his phone and wallet in the process :(
Sunday morning we didn't do much except get breakfast/lunch and walk to the train station. The entire city was dead though... it seems like a big trend in Europe that nothing is open on Sundays.
Most people had to be back in the Netherlands for orientation the next day, so everyone else went back right then but Nick and I made an on-the-spot decision to buy a ticket to Paris and keep traveling for a few days until our orientation....