Belgium- The Beginning!

Belgium was a lovely place to start my mega-adventure.  My flight into Brussels-Charleroi airport only cost £25 from Edinburgh!  The flight was easy and I was able to catch a cheap taxi from the airport to the city.

Brussels

Busy street | Mannekin Pis, aka the Little Pisser 🙂 | WAFFLES!

A nice guy from Lisbon who couldn’t speak English paid my taxi fare for me, then I walked the few minutes to my hostel and sent mom an email before heading to bed.  The next morning I found the Little Pisser, then grabbed the best waffle I have EVER had!  The Belgians have this figured out… The waffles have a slight caramelized crunch on the outside, which would be delicious alone… But seriously, this little (or GIANT) morsel was made infinitely more awesome with cream, custard, strawberries, and an accidental drizzle of chocolate from the nice girl behind the counter.  She asked if I minded the mistake… Um, more chocolate?? Yes please!

Ventured to the Grand Place- yep, it was grand.  Moving on.

That was pretty much all I had on my list for Brussels.  I only had one day scheduled and I was really excited to head on to Bruges, so I caught an early train and met a nice lady named Karen and her dog Mila on the way.  Got to Bruges and wandered through town before I headed for the hostel.  This little place has so much old world charm it practically oozes from between the stones.  I liked from the first few minutes 🙂

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Storefronts ready for Christmas | A merchant’s home with false storefront | San Salvator’s Church

When I checked into Snuffel Hostel (HIGHLY recommended, and free breakfast!) I was just in time for the free city tour with Steve.  He was hilarious!! He gave us great local advice on where to get chocolate, beer, and fries, as well as super cheap pasta.  Made friends with four Spanish Erasmus students on the tour, great fun 🙂

Bruges is great for just wandering and finding lovely local shops.  The big chains are still there but I had a great time walking through the little shops all over the city.  I visited the windmills along the edge of the old city and walked the canals.   Met ANOTHER four Spanish Erasmus students and spent the evening with them, and even went to a club!  Believe it or not they are headed to Amsterdam next as well, so we hope to see each other when we get there!

I could absolutely live here, hope I live here someday.

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Next I took a day trip to Antwerp to see where my friend Miss Thony grew up.  It was beautiful, but you could still see many remnants of communism leftover.  Big concrete tower blocks and the like.  It had lots of Christmas markets and the cathedral was STUNNING.

Antwerp

The ‘hand’ legend of the founding of the city | Antwerp Cathedral and Christmas Lights | Antwerp Central Train Station

 

I got tired of the crowds pretty quickly and headed back to Bruges before dark, then took a few night photos there and got gluhwein… LIFE CHANGER!  I don’t like wine at all, the dry taste is just gross to me.  But this sweet, spicy, hot drink is the perfect thing to warm you to your bones!  VERY good 🙂

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The next story is a little gross… read ahead if you are squeamish- word to the wise, no matter how hungry you are, take small bites.  I bought a gorgeous bratwurst with onions and ketchup.  The first thing I did was take an ambitious bite, but I couldn’t totally get through.  I was thinking, ‘oh crap, that’s really hot on the roof of my mouth!’ Still can’t get the bite, now I’m thinking ‘Holy mother of… that’s freaking hot!’ When I finally get through the roof of my mouth feels cooked itself, and burnt like I have never managed to do before.  Two seconds later I feel the skin come loose, and next I’m spitting out what used to be the roof of my mouth.  Grossest thing ever… But do I let that stop me? No way!  I finished that delicious bratwurst through tiny side bites and tearing off pieces as I went.  Hey, this was a budget trip!  I wasn’t going to let pain get in the way of good food, much less throw it away because of a third degree burn!  It just meant lots of ice cream and cold drinks the next day 😉

 

I am officially a Belgium fan and can’t wait to go back.  Have you been to these cities too?  I would love to see your photos and hear your stories!

Next post will be about my thoughts on Amsterdam, and what to do if you neither smoke nor care about the sex trade… Which is NOT easy mind you!

Stay tuned 🙂

Love and laughs,

-Taylor

European Shmorgasbord

Hello and a very happy (albeit late) New Year/ Hogmanay to you!!

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Taken outside Schoenbrunn Palace in Vienna

It’s hard to describe my past month and a half without being struck by just how blessed I am.  I have dreamed since age six of travelling and going to far flung corners of the world.  While none of the places I visited in the last five weeks are flung very far, I was still able to see 8 countries and 18 cities with one backpack (mostly) and one pair of shoes (til Mom and Dad joined me 🙂 ) Not bad for my first backpacking adventure!

Since this post would quickly become a novel if I wrote out my whole travel story today, I have decided to break it down into much more manageable chunks of travel goodness.  Over the next few weeks I will do a post on each of the cities I visited and what I experienced along the way.  Don’t worry, I’ll still be mixing in my good old Scottishenanigans! 🙂

Not many shenanigans today I’m afraid… My first full day back in Edinburgh consisted of laundry, catching up on homework, and sending a million emails to sort out everything I neglected while I was away.  Classes start up on Monday so I have to figure out where my A-game went and get it polished before then!

Hogmanay

While it’s still generally regarded as the new year, I’ll quickly mention the bedlam that is Hogmanay!  Scotland’s New Year celebration rings in each year with a bang… And Edinburgh starts off with an amazing torch procession up Prince’s street!  The next night is the 31st, and the street party that shuts down the middle of the city.  I didn’t partake, but I did pick up a t-shirt!  And just saying… The fireworks are INSANE.  The best I have ever seen.  Stop by YouTube to see just how cool they were.

Happy Friday, stay tuned for my first holiday stop- Brussels!

Love and laughs,

-Taylor