Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Day 130-133: Brussels

Brussels can be summed up by its traffic situation: a little chaotic and disorganized, slightly ornamental, but basically effective.

I spent a weekend in the south-east corner of Brussels staying with Maria, a friend of mine from the Gilbert and Sullivan Society in St. Andrews. Her family has both Greek and Spanish backgrounds, so it was fascinating to hear the blend of languages spoken in their house and enjoy a couple cultural dishes. Everyone was really friendly, going out of their way to make me feel at home and to help me on my journey (like driving me to the train station at 5am.)

On Thursday afternoon I took a bus down from Amsterdam (about three hours) and arrived in Brussels mid-afternoon. I then walked half an hour to the Museum of Natural Science (continuing my streak of dragging my poor suitcase ridiculous distances through every city I come to) where I met Maria. She showed me around the museum (paying special attention to the whales!) and when it closed we went out for crepes, which were served with several different types of sugar.

One thing Maria and I weren't very good at was getting to bed on time. Every night we stayed up late talking or watching Sherlock (can't believe the cliffhanger at the end of season 3!) or discussing stories or reading The Hobbit. It was all great fun, but it left me so tired during the day... I actually fell asleep while watching The Hobbit one evening!

On Friday morning I met my friend Thessa, my academic sister from St. Andrew's, and we wandered around Brussels together. Since Thessa doesn't have a great sense of direction, and since Brussels is very confusing, it wasn't a guided tour so much as an exploration. We saw a lot of big buildings, explored a few churches, and  tried Belgian waffles (only €1, and they were delicious!). It was lovely to see Thessa again and to explore her home city with her.

With Maria, I went to the museum of Art and History, which had a lot of interesting statues, ceramics, and mathematical instruments. On Saturday night, her family took me out to a fancy restaurant where I got to try escargot (snails- and they were delicious!).

On Sunday morning I went to church at a Scottish church that I found with Google's help. The pastor was from Glasgow and a lot of British ex-pats attended, so it was neat to talk to English-speakers about their experiences moving to Brussels. Then, in the afternoon, Maria and I went to a Gilbert and Sullivan singalong of the operetta Patience. I had never sung Patience before, but the atmosphere was relaxed and I had a lovely time. It was neat to see how far people had come just for the singalong- one man had driven down from Holland, and another one had flown in from Switzerland.
On Monday morning already it was time to go, and I had to catch a bus at around 5 am to make it to the airport in time for my flight. I was sad to leave Brussels, but Budapest was where the proper adventure would begin... 

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