day 1: brussels

Brussels Travel Blog

 › entry 1 of 5 › view all entries
after spending monday morning running around, finishing the packing, and making the last minute arrangements, 3pm finally came closing in. erin arrived, and our chauffeur, adam followed shortly. after the typical 'wow, you have so much luggage' conversations, we finally were on our way to the airport.

we planned to arrive two hours prior to our flight time, and it was immediately evident upon arrival that we were smart to do so. traveling the day after christmas is probably akin to traveling the day before. pure madness. lines that stretch across the horizon. irritated travelers, luggage hitting you in the knee or shoulder, as people pass by you convinced that the line cannot possibly be this long. yes, i am standing here because i have nothing better to do than to tell you that lines are this long. seriously.

eventually, after having spent who knows how long in line, our flight was the flight of concern, and agents began calling out 'brussels? anyone going to brussels?' 'yes?' 'come to this special line over here that is so much shorter, you might, and i emphasize might, make it through security in time to catch your flight. good luck.'

apparently, luck was on our side, and we did make the flight. it was a full one, so erin and i were not seated next to one another, but i did have a window, and for that i was grateful. the flight was about 7 1/2 hours. i slept for only two, despite taking sleeping pills. apparently my body simply couldn't be convinced that 5:00pm was bedtime. i can't blame it really. for the rest of the flight, i watched some hillary duff movie, and the end of the polar express, and cinderella man.

at 7:00am (or 12:00am body time), we arrived in brussels. we got our passport stamped without having answered one question (they asked deb where she was staying--her response 'i don't know'), and were off to wait for our luggage. we weren't sure if it really took as long as it seemed to take, or if we were just tired, but finally my first bag came. then my second bag. but erin's hadn't appeared. after noticing that there was only one other person waiting, we feared for the worst, and the worst was in fact reality. erin's bag had been held at dulles by tsa. she wouldn't have it until the next day. had it been me, i would have been crying, but she took it in stride. shortly after she finished her paperwork, deb's flight arrived from ny, and we waited for her luggage--which did come.

then we were off. we took a cab to beverli's apartment (erin's friend who so graciously offered to let us stay here while she was out of town), and after spending more time than it should have taken to figure out how to work the keys and doors, we made it inside. the apartment makes for a great home base--all of us with our own beds, and two bathrooms to share.

after getting slightly settled, it was time to head into the center of brussels. the exhaustion had started to set in, but we were determined to make a full day of it and fight through the pain in order to get on a normal schedule. we actually did pretty well. although, truth be told, in trying to remember it today, it seems like quite a blur.

i do remember that we spent some time in the grand place and hit the maison du roi museum (i think that's what it is called). we saw the manekin pis, which, despite having being warned that even with the lowest expectations it would be a disappointment, still was.

we bought some chocolate and we bought some lace. we discovered that we had a natural aptitude for adjusting to the idiosyncrasies of public transportation in a country where remarkably little english is spoken. and we spent a good deal of time (three different tickets/three different agents) trying to get our train tickets lined up for brugges, amsterdam, paris, and luxembourg. the upside of those encounters was that we ended up spending far less than we had expected to, based on our pre-trip research.

i also remember delicious pastries and waffles, and thinking that if was going to be this cold, at least it had the decency to snow.

we quickly realized that meals were going to take a little longer here. as my good buddy rick (steves) pointed out, americans kill time and europeans pass it.

all in all, given our sheer exhaustion, and the seeing to be done, we were extremely successful, and actually managed to enjoy the first day of our trip. needless to say, sleep came quickly last night.
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
photo by: Vlindeke