Monday, January 7, 2013

New Years in Brussels

Mostly I don’t post a lot of my daily life on the blog, because I spend about as much time on facebook as I wish I spent exercising. But people (okay, one person) have asked that I post pictures, and last week I had a personal photographer, aka fellow traveler Tip. All the beautiful pictures are thanks to her. The ones with me in them as well : )
Brussels: More than just a vegetable

I had somewhat low expectations of Brussels. I must admit until six months ago I probably only thought of Belgium once during the one week unit on Europe geography at our school (We Americans realize that google maps exists for a reason). That thought was that it must suck to have your capital named after brussel sprouts. Also, when I asked a Belgian what there was to do in Brussels, all he could come up with a Christmas tree, and he remembered five minutes later that it would be removed by the time we got there. But Brussels was awesome, and not just because of the waffels. 
There is also chocolate.

Sunday: Got to Brussels and realized my plan of finding my hostel by finding the nearby church was somewhat thwarted by the skyscrapers. The last time I was got lost while traveling, in China, nobody spoke English, and I didn’t speak or read a word of Chinese. In comparison, Belgium is barely foreign, and it wasn’t scary to be lost. Everyone speaks English, I speak Dutch and a little French. Plus, I have some experience dealing with not understanding anything that is said - The first time says something to you, smile at them and continue doing whatever you’re doing. If they speak again, stop doing whatever you’re doing and try something new. In any case, I found the hostel, and I decided to walk to the center, which was beautiful.
Stupid sky-scrapers

The elusive church

Monday: Somewhat anti-socially, my alarm clock went off at 8 oclock, and due to my earplugs, I was most likely the last person to be woken up by it. My past roommates will be able to sympathize with those current roommates. After a morning stroll, Tip arrived! She is a delightful person.


It was New Years Eve, so all the museums and tourist things were closed, but we had to while away the last hours of 2012 somehow. Thankfully, we could lose a lot of time getting lost. We also watched the “L’homme que rit”. It was in French with Dutch subtitles (Brussels is technically bi-langual) so I translated badly for Tip.
Trying to look tri-lingual.

After the tragic ending of “L’homme que rit”, it took a few minutes after stepping outside to transition to the festive New Year Eve atmosphere. Everyone starting walking toward to the center ten minutes to the midnight, and since following other people usually turns out well except when it doesn’t, we followed.
At night, the the whole building is lit up in multi-colored display

It was pretty cool, 20 second to midnight everyone started to count down. I counted up instead, because I’m a special snowflake. And then it was midnight and the fireworks started. They were awesome, and stayed awesome for the full 20 minutes. Tip and I kept thinking they were over and clapping, but they just kept going and getting more elaborate by the minute. There was even a heart. Walking back after the fireworks was an experience in itself, which everyone on the streets at midnight as if it were day time wishing each other a bonne anneé.
Cool, right?

Tuesday: The next morning, we went to the visit the 2012 winner of the nobel peace prize, the European Parliament, and we went ice-skating. The fact some people felt the need to exert their individually by suddenly going the wrong way and others had the mentality that if they were going doing down, they would take the whole rink with them kept things interesting. We shared a salad for dinner, which I figured justified eating chocolate covered waffle for desert.
Power just radiates from it, no?

Wednesday: Tip and I meet up with Juliana! She's a lot of fun, plus she was much better with directions than Tip or me, so we spent much less time being lost after this point.

We went to the chocolate museum, where I learned that white chocolate does in fact contain chocolate (chocolate butter but not chocolate powder) and to the comic strip museum, where I was disappointed that there was not a Calvin and Hobbes exhibit.
Yes, it's made of chocolate

Thursday: We got a 24 hour museum pass, which we put to good use. The musical instrument museum let you listen to the instruments on the audio guides as you passed, and the Natural History museum, besides the dinosaurs, had a blue whale skeleton. I never appreciated just how otherworldly huge those animals are.
Not the whale

Friday: A visit to the Atomium and we went home! All in all, a fun week : )

Not sure if the waffel or Atomium is more impressive.

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