Thursday, November 25, 2010

One day away...Brussels

This past weekend, I went to Brussels, Belgium for one day. The main purpose for the trip was for myself and and a friend to see Canada play Belgium in rugby, but of course we were also going to squeeze in a few touristy things along the way. So on Saturday morning we met at the infamous Gare du Nord in Paris to embark on our day trip. We hopped on our train and prepped for the little over an hour trip. Now I must tell you that, for the first time in my life, I was booked in a first class seat. Granted, it was for some reason, at the time of booking, cheaper than a regular seat. Anyways, a man in a fancy vest snipped my ticket and showed me to my big comfy red velour seat. The car was almost empty except for the 4 or 5 business men pretending to look important, scattered among the seats ahead of me.  As we pulled out of the station and out into the rainy grey day in Paris, the perks of first class began to unravel before my eyes. First, I was offered a newspaper or magazine, followed by another man in a fancy vest with a cart giving out miniature cans of orange juice, cups of coffee and miniature croissants and pots of yogurt. Apparently first class also implies that everything has to be miniature. This I found intriguing to say the least.


After sitting and watching the rain stop as we zipped past country side, we began to pull into Brussels, where it was equally as grey but not as rainy. We popped off the train and went straight to figure out the metro so we could get to the centre of the city. I still, after a day of studying and trying to understand do not get how the Brussels metro/tram/buses work. It is a complete mystery to me as the lines all have number and letter names and seem to go in very similar directions. Regardless, we managed throughout the day to get around.

As we only had a couple of hours we went to the old part of the city where everything is cobblestone and really lovely. The buildings are incredibly tall and sit right at the edge of the street, as if about to lean and fall over on you as you walk past.

It seems like every boutique sells speculoos cookies in the shapes of religious figures, beer mugs, beer, waffles or fries. There were also more chocolate shops than I have ever seen in such a small place. Around every corner was a window display with a chocolate fountain, it was really quite lovely.

We tested out some of the delights to be had and walked around enjoying the architecture and culture. We took a little trip out to see what the rest of the city looked like as well, although I am sad to report that it didn't impress me as much as I thought it would. It felt a bit generic. That is not to say that it was bad, it is a really nice place, but I think it is safe to say that I probably wouldn't move there.

I would still like to see other cities in Belgium though, because just as Paris doesn't make France, Brussels probably doesn't make Belgium either.

As the day wore on, we made our way to the stadium to go see Canada kick Belgium's arse in rugby. It was a good game despite how cold it was getting, and I was surprised to see the amount of Canadian supporters that there were. We kicked back plenty of mediocre beer, and cheered for our boys like any good Canadians would.

After the game, we attempted to find other Canadians to go and celebrate with, but sadly the only ones we could track down were a bunch of old geizers, and well, it just wasn't what we had in mind.  So we embarked once again on the metro tram thing back to the old part of the city.

We then found out how the many little pubs get all their business, as a man almost begged us to come in, hoping his lavish descriptions of dishes would entice us and make us eat there. Spineless, we went in. The pub was cute, with a fireplace, which was a welcome addition to the cold weather, and the food was alright. It was nice to be inside and to have a bite to eat.

The day felt like it went by in a flash and I really liked seeing a little Canadian pride, it's good to see that kind of thing when you have been away for a while... reaffirms your existence on this great vast planet.

As the day came to a close, we came back to Paris and headed home, where I was happy to see my warm couch bed still unfolded, as though arms wide open, welcoming me home from my little day journey.

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