I had such a fantastically wonderful time in Brussels that I have been putting off writing this post all day, knowing that I have too much to say and that I’ll not be able to quite capture it all.
I hadn’t been expecting much. I’ve never heard Brussels as described as a go-to destination- too many boring bureaucrats, not enough old buildings. But I absolutely loved it. There were definitely enough old buildings by my American standards, and if you get really excited about the bureaucracy going on (Capital of the EU! NATO!) it is a very thrilling place to be. Plus, the things that Brussels is known for are pretty great. They have some of the best beer, fries, (“pomme frites,”) and chocolate in the world, and extraordinary waffles like you’ve never had waffles. How could I not be destined to love Brussels?
On a side note, Brussels also has great grocery stores. Slovenia has ok-grocery stores, but Brussels has fantastic grocery stores. The cheese section in the corner markets alone is astounding. Plus, they have Asian import food stores, with walls of different varieties of soy sauce and rice noodles. There is not a single Asian import food store in the whole country of Slovenia. My Slovenian friends and I stocked up on teas and spices, equally happy about these items as the Belgian chocolate.
In addition to eating, and that was a huge part of what we did, my classmates and I also saw various EU institutions and visited NATO. It was interesting to say the least, but its kind of hard to condense all the knowledge into a blog post. I’m afraid that I got the most out if all than anybody else, since many of my classmates majored in European studies and were vary familiar with aspects of the EU that were discussed. I also really enjoyed the visit to NATO, or Nah-toe as my Slovenians say. You say to Nah-to, I say to Nay-to, to Nay-to to Nah-toe, Potayto, Potahto….Let’s call the whole thing off.
Anyway, NATO. I managed to spill tea on the carpet, and resisted joking about secret camera decoder rings. An overall success! No, truly, I found it extremely interesting. I wish we could have spent more time there.
No photos of NATO though. Security. You’ll have to be satisfied with the EU.
Although programming took up most of the mornings, we had the afternoons off to explore. Or nap, depending upon the previous evening’s activities. My friends and I visited Bruge, Antwerp, and a small town on the coast, all short train rides away.
The coast is against the North Sea, which sounds cold. It was, and so windy that I don’t think my hair will recover for a while yet.
The small town of Bruges was very beautiful and charming. Example:
Antwerp was particularly fun because one of my Slovenian friends had studied abroad there for a semester. He knew all the sights to see, foods to eat, and things to drink. (Yes, my mission to try one new type of beer a day was successful.) We were shown the church where Rubens is buried, and I also forked over a few euros to enter into the church which contains some of his paintings as well.
The train station in Antwerp was a nice one, too, and Antwerp has my favorite statue that I’ve ever seen.
See the hand that the guy on top is holding? He cut it off of the monster, and is throwing it into the river, which is how the city got its name. Something about hand throwing.
I also just enjoyed being in Brussels. It has a nice character. Much more easy going and less pretentious than Paris, and a bit more on a human scale. The central historical square was downright beautiful. I loved putting my French into practice, and was even complemented on my accent. Oh, and I held a whole conversation in Slovenian with a Pommes Frites seller from Kosovo!
And back home, home to Ljubljana. I arrived to a wonderful early Christmas package, which I’m sorry to say that I opened. It contained some delightful items, some of which I shall model later, (THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU KAT! They are gorgeous!) and one of which I shall use right away. A Kindle! Thank you so much, Mama and Papa! I have already downloaded my first book. Which, for everybody’s information is “The Sweet Life in Paris: Delicious Adventures in the World’s Most Glorious – and Perplexing – City.” Considering my love of food, living abroad, and French, I’m sure to enjoy it.
Happy Early Christmas!