Wednesday, 19 October 2016

A trip to Brussels

Apologies for another photo-heavy post, but I went on my first proper trip since arriving in Lille a month ago. The squad (minus a few members) travelled to Brussels for the day and, honestly, it was one of my favourite days in a long time. I stopped off in the Belgian capital for a few days last year when I went interrailing and fell in love with the city, so I'm very pleased that it only takes around 35 minutes to get there from Lille.

We arrived in Brussels nice and early to take advantage of the whole day, and I'm so glad we did. Being able to see the city in a chilled way without rushing was very pleasant. 

Making new friends is an opportunity to show whatever side of your personality that you want to portray, as these new people will never know any differently. Unfortunately for me, this has backfired as I've managed to convince my new friends that I'm fantastic at using maps and guiding people around new places. This gained me both the nickname "Tour Guide Barbie" and the role of navigator in Belgium. Argh.

Somehow, I pulled through and we didn't get lost at all.

Our first stop was, of course, to the Mannekin Pis - a small, bronze fountain of a boy peeing and arguably the most famous landmark in the city.  The legend states that centuries ago, the city of Brussels was under siege and an explosive was placed to destroy it. A young boy saw this and peed on the fuse to put it out, thus this fountain was placed. It has over 900 outfits and when we visited, he was dressed in a cycling outfit. Next to the fountain was one of Brussels' many waffle take-aways, so that was where we went for a quick breakfast.




With our waffles, we walked a few minutes to the city's George Square; the beautiful Grand Place. There isn't a word to describe how simply stunning the buildings here are. Most of them are decorated in real gold and the photos don't do them justice. As I stuffed my waffle into my mouth (Nutella and banana, would recommend), an excited Nia came running up to us and all I heard were the words "horse" and "tour". Next thing I know, the eight of us are spread between two horse-drawn carriages and taking the most unique city tour I've ever experienced. It definitely felt more regal than a standard walking or bus tour and I'd definitely recommend taking it if you're ever in Brussels - even if just for the novelty!


"let's take candids"

Our next stop-off point was the chocolate museum, which was full of free samples. My favourite part was definitely the machine that spun melted chocolate, with a stack of speculoos biscuits next to it to be dipped and sampled. After so much chocolate, we decided on another of Belgium's food specialities for lunch - Belgian fries and mayonnaise, which was to die for. I love me some mayonnaise, but in France, mayonnaise is mixed with mustard and it is impossible to find any jars of plain mayo. I miss Hellman's. Thankfully, the Belgian mayo was incredible. 

After a busy morning, we spent the afternoon wandering around the city and just seeing what it has to offer, especially the beautiful chocolate and sweet shops. We finished the day off by relaxing outside in the Grand Place in the autumn sun with a Belgian fruit beer, before getting another 35 minute train back home.








Jess, Nia, Lauren, Luke, Beth, Julia, Claudia, I couldn't have asked for better company for the day and I'm so grateful to have such fantastic friends to share these experiences with. Here's to the next adventure, and I can't wait to return to Belgium as soon as possible!



the best year abroad friends <3


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