So, my latest blog post is going to be all about my trip to Brussels last weekend. I apologize for slacking on writing, once again, but it’s so easy to get caught up in looking at rainbows, shopping for scarves, and fantasizing about banana splits (no euphemism here, folks, I’m just jonesing for one like nobody’s business). Brussels (Bruxelles, if we’re being Parisienne) is a beautiful city. The word that I can best think of to describe it is quaint. It was all very clean, even the metro stations, which were decorated with art nearly everywhere. The people were friendly, sometimes too friendly, but more on the creepies later. Belgium is such an interesting country, because the people who live there seem to be able to speak five different languages. French, Dutch, and English seem to be the most prevalent, however. Before you ask – yes, I did buy lots of chocolate. But, I didn’t get any waffles this time around. I’ll be in Leuven, Belgium for a concert in April, so I will most definitely get a waffle then!
We packed in a lot during our 48-some hour venture. We went to several museums, my personal favorite was the fashion museum, followed by the comic museum, a big flea market, Grande Place, a brewery tour, the Hallepoort museum that allowed us to see an amazing view of Brussels, and lots of just walking around the city! Ellen and I were kind of amused at the fact that there were only five metro lines, after conquering the Paris metro anything seems possible. The entire city didn’t feel very big either, it had a small town vibe to it. It had ultra modern buildings juxtaposed with the historic architecture. Honestly, the architecture here is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. It was like every block had a statue or a monument. Anyways, on to the funny stuff, the list of the weirdest things that happened on our trip to Brussels!
We’ll start with our first venture out for dinner…
1. Our Hostel – oh, where to start with this one. Ellen and I thought we would play it safe and go with the all female room in this particular hostel. Upon arrival to the hostel, which was an almost creepy walk away from the metro station, we found out that our room was not in fact in the main hostel, but in the “all female” part of the hostel that was a little over a block away. That’s not creepy, right? The girl working reception at the hostel was a sweetheart, but the hostel itself was a bit janky. Ellen and I made an even further creepy walk down the street to the unmarked building that was where our room was. I should say now that this building was NOT staffed like the other one, and actually had a cat living in it which was also not described on the hostel website. We ended up finding out room and discovered that we were rooming with two people who seemed to live there, based on the sheer amount of stuff that was spewed all over the room. One roommate was home, a thirty-something Brazilian woman who looked terrified and miserable every time she spoke to us. Ellen and I were a little freaked out by her, because we had no idea why she was making her eyes so big every time she spoke to us. Not going to lie, I was a little freaked that she might kill me in my sleep that night. Our other roommate, who never spoke more than “hello” to us, felt the need to pack up all of her belongings that were cast about said room at 5 o’clock in the morning before she had to leave the hostel. Words cannot describe the rage I felt toward this irresponsible, disorganized…heathen when I’m trying to sleep after walking around for ten hours when she could have packed up the night before and left the light on while doing so.
2. The Cheesecake Cafe – this entire experience was just hell in a hand basket (what a beautiful line). I should probably first say that Ellen and I walked a good half hour before we even found a restaurant. This place, a fried chicken joint, and a black-tie restaurant were our only options in the neck of the woods where we were traveling. Which was also pretty much a city center. Anywho, our waiter ignored us for the first half hour that we were sitting down, then forgot to put our food order in for an hour and a half. Once we got our food, it was…not good. Ellen and I were feeling good from the cocktails we had ordered, so we weren’t even feeling hungry once we actually got our dinner. It was a hamburger with beef that tasted a lot more like sausage. My mind immediately went to the big horse meat scandal that was all over Europe last year or so and could barely choke it down. We both pretty much just ate the fries and coleslaw that came with our hamburgers. We just wanted to get the hell out of that restaurant so we could go to a club that I read was a “must-see” for every person traveling to Belgium. When it came time for the check, the waiter informed us that it was “impossible” to divide it up. He went on and on in Franglais about how it’s impossible to do that. What century is this?! I’ve found this happening at several places in Europe and it still manages to shock me each time. He then proceeded to attempt to get in our good graces by telling us that American girls are all crazy, especially his ex-girlfriend who is from Chicago, and with whom he clearly still has issues.
3. Madame Moustache – this was the “must-see” club I read about in several Brussels tourism posts. There was a sailor-themed night at the club so Ellen and I got all dressed up in cute striped shirts and sailor hats to dance to 80′s music all night. When we got there, there were only about 20 people in striped shirts, no one else had adhered to the theme. Feeling awkward, we ditched the hats and continued on in our striped shirts. This entire experience was sketchy, hellish, bland, and creepy. You had to have been there to really understand why I used each of those adjectives. Every couple of minutes guys would approach us and haphazardly try to hit on us. Seriously? I’m over here trying to get my dance on and I am a happily taken woman. I don’t need your creepy-ass with a porn-stache trying to woo me. Seriously, if you look like you’re 35 and you’re barely over 20, it’s time to do some serious self-evaluation. I also took this opportunity of being blatantly hit on to bring back one of my favorite past times: lying to strangers I know I will never see again about my identity. I took turns pretending to not speak any language they tried to approach me with, I told several people I was a political science exchange student from Canada who was studying abroad in Oxford, and then I told several people to just get the hell away from me in a not-so-nice American way. At the end of the night, there was a group of drunk guys trying to lift up their friend to start crowd surfing. This kid was about to fall onto Ellen and I, so we booked it out of the way. This kid ended up falling on his head on concrete, and promptly passed out. I thought I had just witnessed someone die, so I was started to panic. He ended up being okay, thank god, but it was a very stressful situation. This is why I hate being around rowdy drunk people, because they do stupid things like that.
4. Not having cash – okay, this one was also stressful. Ellen and I went to a restaurant where it was in no way advertised that they did not accept credit cards. Once again, I’m going to throw this sentiment out there: what century is this?!?! Why would you not take credit card in your business establishment? Let alone not tell people that anywhere in the restaurant or on the menu?! We used all but ten euros each of our cash because of this stupid restaurant, and we had 24 hours to either use or not use ten euros. Thank god we had cash, or we might have had to do some sort of dine-and-dash situation or simply start begging patrons around us to help us pay for our meal…
5. Musical Instruments Museum – so this one is one of the dumbest things that has ever happened to me but also may be the most hilarious thing that’s every happened. Ellen had been telling me how badly she wanted to go to the Musical Instruments Museum since we decided to go to Brussels. Me, being the person that I am, could not have been less enthused to go to a museum all about musical instruments. We ended up buying a pass for “Museum Night Fever” which is where all the museums stay open super late and there’s activities, shuttles, etc. So, we decided, why not go to the MIM? We ended up waiting in this line for nearly 45 minutes behind this couple who was all over each other in line. Seriously, you would have thought we were on the set of a porn. There was one point where the guy went to shove the girl against the wall to ferociously make out with her, and guess who was pinned between them and the wall for a hot second? Yours truly! People, we were not waiting to get into a club. You could not have picked a less sexy place to try and get it with your lover than a museum about MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS. After that business was over, and we got into the museum, we had to check our coats before we were allowed to do anything. This was also not advertised. Once we got to the actual “museum” part, neither Ellen’s nor my audio guide worked. We were literally walking around looking at old instruments for twenty minutes. It was my own personal hell. Even though it completely sucked, this MIM made for the absolute best story. I still can’t stop laughing whenever it’s brought up. Also, on an attempt to come home from this entire escapade, we waited half an hour for a night bus that never came. Thank god there were taxis that took card (at least some parts of Brussels are up to speed with technology…) and we were able to get home.
6. Possible corpse on the metro – this one goes without explanation. We couldn’t tell if the man sitting slumped in his seat on the metro was a passed out drunk, or if it was something else… We’d like to believe it was a drunk who just felt like riding the metro all day.
7. Accosting a man in the metro station – this one was definitely not my fault. When we first arrived at this metro station to make our way back to the hostel, I saw this man drinking and leaning against a wall with a group of other middle-aged men. They were yelling things at women walking past them, “belle fille! Belle fille!” Anyways, Ellen and I had to come back to this same station to catch our bus home. When I hopped off the escalator and started walking into the station, I saw out of the corner of my eye one of the men starting to make a beeline towards me. I started walking faster, and then he got up next to me and reached out and touched my H&M bag. At this point, I screamed “GET AWAY FROM ME!!!!” and started sprinting away. It was a terrifying experience. I didn’t know if he was going to try and rob me, hurt me, or worse, so I wanted to get the hell away from him as quick as possible. Ellen later told me he kept going “H M, H M!” and she thought he just wanted to know where an H&M was. I don’t think a drunk, middle-aged local man would be asking where an H&M is, but who knows. The situation was creepy, and I stand by somewhat screaming and sprinting away. Momma didn’t raise no fool.
So, there you are folks. The weird things that happened to me in Brussels, in one, easy-to-read blog post.
Obviously, there are some more stories to be told about this trip, like the weird Greek waiter who kept making eye contact with me in the Greek restaurant and sprinted over to the window to say goodbye to me when I left the restaurant, but these were the highlights.
Until next time.