Trip Start Sep 11, 2010
107Trip End Aug 19, 2011
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Where I stayed
What kind of a hostel is it where you are given a most welcoming greeting and a free welcome drink? What kind of a hostel is it where your host joins you for breakfast every morning and is really interested in you and your enjoyment of Brussels.... where you come down for a quick breakfast an end up spending two hours there chatting and joking...
When I arrived in the 5 bed dorm there were 4 others there, each travelling on their own. It was really great as we were all in quite similar positions. I became particularly friendly with two of them. Adrianna; a mid-thirties girl from San Paolo in Brazil and a 24 year old Colorado girl called Claire. Adrianna was a big traveller and had explored much of the world. She had a philosophy of slow travel and was spending about a week in all the places she went, I like that... maybe in later life when I have more time and money. She was a fountain of knowledge and perspective on travelling and had many interesting stories to tell. Claire was another who had caught the travel bug. She was on her third trip to Europe and going in my opposite direction from Amsterdam and towards Ireland. It was nice to get her tips for Amsterdam and to help her out for Ireland
In spite of staying three days in Brussels, I could only really devote one day to exploring the city. Karl dropped me into town and helped me get oriented. In the car I examined the map and marked and few places of importance like the direction of home, the place to meet the others later, the centre etc. A soon as I got out of the car I held the map up for a look when swwwooooooosh! A big gust of wind stole it from me and took it way off down the road. I laughed it off and just headed towards the centre.
I spent about two hours just wondering around the centre. Its a lovely city and I quite enjoyed it. In particular central square and the old town. There were a few things which I just had to see, the first of which was the Manneken Pis (that's the fountain of the boy peeing). It was really small and entirely underwhelming, I even walked past it about 3 times when I was looking for it. Next on my list was the atomium, what with being an engineer and all. I picked up one of the Velib bikes, its a great system where you pay like 1 Euro (+150 deposit) and then you can take these bikes from depots and return them to other depots around the city. A wonderful way to explore and cover much more ground than on foot. It can be a bit scary though when you don't have an instinctive understanding of the traffic system. So I cycled towards the atomium following the city bus tour map. Little did I know that the map had omitted a huge distance. Getting confused I stopped and asked for directions (something I have done a few times now). The man just pointed in a direction and smiled so i followed that direction. It turned out the the atomium is 8km from the centre, and in a uphill direction
That evening I met up with Claire, Adrianna, and a french guy living in Belgium. We went for a meal in a typical Belgium places which was off the beaten track and lesser know to tourists. Then we went onto a cool pub called delirium. This pub had 2004 different beers and the menu was like a phone book. They claim to have a different glass for each, so we would have our work cut out. It would have been nice to do something of a pub crawl, but really we were very happy in Delirum so we stayed there for most of the night sampling several different Belgium beers! We did leave eventually and make it to a club bar which was nothing special really. The night gets a bit hazy from there but I'm sure it ended up with fast food, getting a cab, getting out a bit too soon and then getting lost in the rain. Which sounds horrible but actually was really nice. It was a lovely night, good oul crack