Nobody wanted to come to Belgium with me, so I just went by myself.
After leaving the Amsterdam hostel early Saturday morning I went to catch a short bus to Antwerp. It was purely a stopover, which meant the only sight seeing I did was of the massive 5€ margherita pizza I had for lunch. It came with free bread and olives, which honestly made my morning, even if I had to kind of roll myself out of the restaurant.
Having to carry my bigger bag around was a bit of a burden so I just had lunch, took a few photos and then walked to the (beautiful, grandiose) train station. Apart from the old ‘random man bothers solo female traveller with dumb questions while she is trying to enjoy her coffee’ moment, it was an easy transition from there to Bruges, my intended destination for the weekend.
Bruges is labeled the ‘Venice of the North’ because of its picturesque canals and buildings. I was really hoping for clearer weather, because I had heard great things about Bruges at sunset, but as you can see it was pretty gloomy. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed my two nights there.
On the Sunday morning I wandered around for a while before finding somewhere that was open for breakfast. The people all seemed very friendly which helped seeing as I was by myself. At 10am I joined a group walking tour which was an excellent decision – I got a free guide around the city with a lovely bunch of people, tasted some amazing hazelnut chocolates, had berry flavoured beer and got a flyer full of coupons.
Nothing tops off a day like a flyer of coupons.
I wish I had some proper photos of the city after sunset, because all these lights were turned on to the buildings and it was so gorgeous. Maybe it’s just something you have to see in person to really appreciate. Here’s one from my phone to give you an idea…
After that brief visit, I left my hostel early on Monday and walked to the train station for the final little piece of the trip: Brussels. Firstly, the trains there are easy as pie to navigate and you get great views during the day. Do I ever want to take a flight again? Stay tuned.
Anyway, back to Brussels. A girl in my Bruges hostel was kind enough to say that I should ‘watch out’ in Brussels because ‘it’s not really that safe, especially for girls, like on their own.’ Thanks, honey – you owe me the 40 minutes of my life I spent googling the dangers of travelling in Brussels and freaking myself out. That wasn’t fun, but I just whipped out my fanny pack money wallet and held onto my bags with an iron grip the entire day. I was over-doing it, I know, but better safe than sorry.
I definitely think this nervousness, or rather hyperawareness (of being a solo female traveller, and me being my paranoid self) tainted my Brussels experience. As you’ll see from the photos, it’s got some beautiful buildings and it was by no means a boring place… but I don’t know how I feel. Especially after visiting Amsterdam then Bruges, two gorgeous old cities with such character and pretty canals, it felt like something was missing from Brussels.
Here’s a few photos from the walking tour I took that morning…
My final comments on Brussels would be: better with friends, and don’t go on a Monday when every bloody museum is shut. My phone had also died during the walking tour, and my phone charging cord along with it, so being stranded without a map is never fun anyway.
Despite the so-so feeling I got from Brussels, after a four hour bus I was over in Paris! Stopping over there was the best way to get home and I was blessed with a semi-sunny day. I forgot how much I like Paris. Even if the price of coffee induced a short panic attack.
I was too laden with luggage to get my camera out but here are a few snaps from my phone. They’re not bad actually. Well done, Apple – your charger cords are too weak to withstand my crazy lifestyle but at least you do some things right.
Et voilà! I was back in Strasbourg before 9pm and rejoicing in not needing a map to find my way to a hot shower. Despite any negative feelings I had over the weekend, I’m really happy I chose to go to Belgium even if nobody could join me. It was a nice reminder that I was capable of handling things and enjoying new places on my own.
Here’s to the next trip! After I actually do my homework and study for an exam… which is this Friday (oops, am I procrastinating by writing this blog post? Of course! When else would I choose to do it?)