Big in Brussels

It was not love at first sight.

I’ll admit it now, it’s never going to be love. It was a decent first date. I ate well.

I got off the train at Brussels Noord, the north station closer to my hostel than Central Station. Take this exit, you enter the business district. Take that exit, you enter sketchville/not even fun red light district. I made the wrong turn. First impression: Brussels is ugly.

I could see a lot of tourists. A lot of ugly buildings. A lot of waffle shops. Plenty of expensive chocolate shops.

I was not enchanted, rather, I was pretty crabby. I certainly didn’t want to take any pictures, not even of the rather gorgeous town hall. The rest was pretty bad. I started playing a game to pass the time. Find The Cheapest Belgian Waffle (answer: Waffle Palace, one euro waffle with no toppings… which is how you eat it unless you’re a tourist).

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And then I got myself lost.

The entire day, I was aiming for the big city park, next to the big Central Station. It’s not a hard concept in the slightest. I could not get a grasp on pointing myself in the right direction. I zigged and zagged through Brussels.

Just after going down, and regretting that I’d gone down, a giant hill, I saw a glass elevator. Next glance made me realize I was near a rather prestigious looking building. I took the elevator up.

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I was at the nearly deserted Palais de Justice. There were three other tourists, and a man playing fetch with his dog in the halls of it.

Man, I want to play fetch with my dog in the halls of a regal courthouse.

Strike that. Man, I want a man who’ll play fetch with my dog in the halls of a regal courthouse.

Anyway. I was at this building with nearly no one else there, I had no business being there, and I enjoyed every minute. Up and down the stairs, up and down the halls… It was my own giant play place for ten minutes. Just one big empty building.

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And then I was off to find the giant park. I knew it was next to the train station and the cathedral.

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I found it! (pats self on back)

No, I didn’t. I found a medium-sized park next to a television station and a church.

I swear I don’t make this stuff up.

Whatever, I dig ponds and mediocre-sized parks, plus this park had the largest, angriest sounding birds I’ve ever seen outside of a zoo. Big, big freakin’ birds.

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But now, where the heck am I? I’m so sore from yesterday’s adventure, if you couldn’t have guessed that. I might have been a bit overzealous, what with fifteen miles of riding the first time I’d done it in six years. I looked at the map and realize I have officially crossed the city. I’m still a twenty minute walk away from Central Station, which, if you didn’t put together, is in the center.

I have nothing but time, but honestly… Once upon a ten months ago, I hated walking to class. “Only a couple miles walk” from home is always going to sound like a bitch.

I did it, I walked it, I ignored public transportation because that’s apparently what I do, and on the way, I finally saw everything I meant to see all day. The royal plaza, the grand park, the main market plaza, the cathedral. I saw them at the prettiest time of day, too, as it was just after sunset and getting dark.

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I maybe could like Brussels, after dark.

Jut like. But no one goes on a second date with someone they don’t like to look at in the daylight.

It’s mutual. Brussels doesn’t want to go on a second date with me either. I only had two and a half days in Belgium. It’s really hard to fit in a to-do list that includes Belgian beer, Belgian waffles, Belgian fries, and Belgian chocolate.

But because I’m a freakin’ champ, I did them all.

Twice.

On a final note, if someone tries to pickpocket me this week, they’ll find not much money but seven different bars of dark chocolate. It looks like Belgian Oompa Loompas set up shop in there.

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5 thoughts on “Big in Brussels

  1. I never give Brussels waffles a miss when I’m in Belgium. A fresh one still all that warm then topped with whipped cream and confectioner’s sugar is always the best.

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