I did a whirlwind tour of Belgium. Some ups, some downs. I got a little time in Amsterdam before catching my train yesterday and had a nice trip to Brussels. I expected to spend close to 4 hours in Brussels, but only really needed an hour and a half. I saw things I wanted to see and didn’t feel like touring anything. But I made sure to have a Belgian waffle with strawberries and nutella. So good!! Messy, but good. It was a little rainy on the way there, but the rain stayed away and the sun even ended up coming out a bit. The square was very pretty and the buildings looked even better in the sun!
I decided to leave Brussels on the 5pm train instead of the 7pm train, as I felt like I had seen enough. The only thing I didn’t see was their court building, but it was farther than I felt like walking. So I get my bag out of the locker and go to the platform for my train to Bruges. Welp, rush hour. Ugh. So many people, so many trains. I kept my bag on the ground until it was almost 5pm but then all these late trains kept coming instead of my train. Eventually I just happened to glance at the schedule board and saw that my train had been moved to another platform entirely. The thought crossed my mind to wait an hour. The trains to Bruges came very frequently. I so wish I had done that. But I climbed a bunch of stairs with all my gear and joined the crush of people trying to change platforms and go down another narrow staircase. I made it on the train, but missed the 1st class cabin because I just wanted to make sure I was on board. Thinking I could walk through the cabins to the 1st class one, I set out. I then realized that that was a poor choice. People were everywhere. I was fighting to get through the aisle with people coming at me from the other direction and people standing in the aisle. I get through one car and waited in the doorway area for the next stop (which I knew was close). I then got off the train and ran down to a 1st class cabin. But it was just as full. People sitting in the aisles and in the doorway. I had just plopped down in the doorway area with several other people. It was a joke. At absolute joke. No way all those people had tickets for that train, let alone 1st class.
I made it to Bruges and it was raining. Even though no rain was in the forecast. Of course. So I caught the bus and asked the driver which stop I was supposed to get off at. He said he’d let me know. I then realized that I had forgotten to write down directions to the hostel from the bus stop. Doh. Thankfully a guy must have seen me trying to look at a map on my phone (from the email… just a photo, no internet connection) and shortly before he got off he told me how to get where I was going. Completely unsolicited. SOOOO nice. What a life saver. It was raining and there was no way I would’ve found it on my own. But the guy said two stops after his… apparently no one needed the first stop after his because the next thing I know, an older lady pushed the stop button and said, for you! She heard where I was going as well. As I thanked her profusely, she then said, better weather tomorrow! It still took a bit for me to find the place and I was on the verge of tears. Ok, some may have escaped. Despite the contrary information, there was no WiFi in my room, just the downstairs bar area. I was tired, wet, and annoyed.
I spent some time online before going up to my room (with mostly unfriendly roommates) to read before the Cardinal game. I then returned to the bar area shortly before 11pm, when the game was starting. I got the game on and it was great! It wasn’t until around the 5th inning that I started losing the stream. I would get it on my phone while I waited for it to come back on my tablet. It was a great game. I vacillated on whether to share this, but I’m trying to be authentic. During the 7th inning, I was struggling to stay awake, but I was bound and determined to finish the 7th inning. I was sitting at a table that faced the bathroom area and sometimes the door to that area would be open and sometimes closed. Well, at this time it was open and I heard two people (guy and girl) being super loud and standing by the garbage. I looked up and the guy looks at me and yells, “this might be shocking, but I need my shot of heroin NOW!” she had tied a tourniquet around his arm and was slapping his elbow. She proceeded to shoot him up with heroin and then he did her. I was appalled. And uncomfortable. And not feeling very safe, to be honest. These feelings have somewhat stayed with me. Lets just say I can’t wait to get out here.
I went bed with the cards in the lead and was so excited to wake up and see that the score held! I then got ready for the day and it was a miserably, rainy day. So after trying to start out, I came back to the hostel and did some things online before the rain slowed a little. I then set out and bought some chocolate for gifts, mailed postcards, and a package back home to lighten my load. After eating lunch at Quick (Jaime, I found one here! I was going to wait until France, but thought I would take advantage of it when I saw it (and everything else was super expensive), which is a fast food place I saw all over Paris last fall but never had the chance to try. It was ok.
Now I am just killing time until I leave for the bus stop and train station to go to northern France. Crazy that when I get to France it will be my 7th country (out of 15).