So I wake up excited because today is the day I move on. I am excited to get going and also giddy at the idea of coming back. This trip was short, but long enough for me to decide I would like to do a one or two week Holland trip in the future. I'll make a note in my future travels book!! I go downstairs and chug some nasty coffee and eat plenty of bread and fruit...I even grab a few clementines for the road. Then I'm off. I am walking (like I've done everywhere in Amsterdam) to the train station and even though I feel like I have a good grasp on the layout of the city at this point I want to give myself ample time to get there. So I arrive and am looking at the screen and every train is written in yellow, but mine is written in blue.
Now, I work at an airport so I know enough to know this means something, but I don't know what. I head to the track with more than a bit of apprehension. Unfortunatley, I quickly discover that my train is cancelled **groan**. There is some sort of power failure and I have to catch the next train at 10am. I am not sure what to do with myself because it is raining outside now. I decide to get some postcards, write them out and mail them. I wasn't going to do postcards from Amsterdam, but since I have time on my hands...
Ten o'clock rolls around and no train. I start to question myself, when an announcement comes on that the train is late - ya think! At about 10:30 the train rolls in and I hop on. The ride to Brussels is a couple of hours and I sleep for all of it.
When we arrive at Brussels Midi - I hop off so I can see the city. I go in search of a Baggage drop and find it pretty cheap at 3,80 euro. Then I'm off. I am dismayed to discover, however, that it is already after 1pm. I find a hop-on hop-off tour and talk to him and he says I don't have enough time. BOO! So I set off on foot to explore what I can. Something interesting about Brussels is that everything is written in Dutch and in French, because they are both official languages. However, every person spoke to me in French. The idea itself reminded me of St Martin where one side speaks French and the other speaks Dutch.
I quickly stumble upon the St Michael and St Gudula Cathedral. It's a beautiful cathedral and I spend about a half hour inside.
I then spend another fifteen minutes just sitting on the stairs soaking up the atmosphere. I like Brussels... I don't know what I was expecting...nothing really, but feels more like real life than I would have guessed. Of course it was the middle of the day on a work day, but it felt like a real city...not a tourist stop. It is also an exceptionally clean city...even outside of the train station felt fine. Everywhere around me people looked all about business. After the cathedral, I wandered over to the Grand Place ( the main square in Brussels) aha...here are the tourists and tourist shops and in general the feel I would have expected. The square is gorgeous and ornate, but crowded. And the police would quickly round up any street performers.
..how sad...don't they know they add to the atmosphere. I recorded a man making the most beautiful music on some contraption I have never seen - and then the police came. :( I saw him later a couple blocks away, though. Anyway, I kept wandering around, but was conscious of the fact that I didn't have a lot of time. This area was teeming with all things Belgian (at least in my mind. There were a bazillion chocolate shops, cheap beer places, fries with mayonnaise and yippee Belgian waffles. I don't love chocoate, but I decided to kill two birds with one stone and I got a belgian waffle drowning in chocolate. It was good and messy.
I continued my walk up a hill and stumbled upon the Mont des Arts. It was a great view back down the hill.
I kept walking up though and found the Royal Palace of Brussels and thought the area was beautiful, but devoid of life. I also popped over to the Royal Park and saw some of the most aggressive making out ever. I mean these two were really going at it on a park bench so much so that I am not positive that they were not actually having sex. Eek! By now it is after 3pm so I make my way back to the train station. I wait in line to claim my bag and then go to catch the train over to Midi. Unfortunately, I wasted about 30 minutes out of ignorance. I asked a gentleman which train to Midi and he said the next one. So, the next train comes and it says nothing about Midi...so I don't get on. I then go to find someone else to ask.
I find a guy, but he doesn't speak English. Then I go to the little office and ask another guy and he says the next train goes to Midi. So the next train comes, but it doesn't say Midi so I don't get on. Then I go and ask again and he looks at me like I'm an idiot and tells me that all trains going this direction stop at Midi! AHHH, Why didn't he just say so in the first place!!
I get to Midi just in time to get my train to Paris... Goodness gracious! I sit back and enjoy the ride - next stop...Paris!