A Brief Stay in Brussels

What’s up! So if you read my previous post you have some idea of my itinerary but for any who didn’t I’m making my way down to Greece with a few detours on the way. Brussels was the first of my detours.

I’ve covered this in other posts but I’ll say it again. The good news is in Europe if your local airport has no cheap or convenient flight options it’s not that hard or expensive to get transport to another nearby city and fly out of there! Which is why rather than just flying out of Lille I opted to head to Brussels.

Now normally when I fly from this city I just take the shuttle directly from Lille to the airport. Quite easy all in all.

However in order to make my flight which was at 9 in the morning… I would have to either stay in Lille or find another flight. Because there aren’t trains from my town down to Lille so early in the morning, especially on Sunday.

So since I had lived on the Belgian border for a year and had still not been to see Brussels (other than the airport) I opted to go a day early and stay the night there so I could easily make my flight.

Now I opted to leave my stuff in the boarding school I was living in. After all, it would have been expensive not to mention annoying having to drag a year’s worth of stuff all over Europe.

With a backpack in hand I set out by train to Brussels.

I arrived to find it sunny and beautiful. I checked into my hostel a bit early before heading out.

I’d opted to stay in BRXXL5 a modern hostel close to the station. It was a bit over my normal budget, but I figured it was worth a little extra sleep. All in all the place was nice. Clean and modern. You could buy breakfast but I was leaving too early. My only issue is that they put me in a mixed room instead of an all female one like I paid for, but by the time I’d realized the mistake I had already left.

Anyhow after leaving my things I took off for the museums I wanted to see.

I started with the fine arts museum. It is essentially a collection of four different periods all in one giant building. You can pick one in particular or you can buy a joint ticket and see all four. I opted for the joint, especially since it was only 3 euros for people under 25!!!

All in all it was a pretty impressive collection, a maze of different rooms to wander through including 8 basement floors filled with works from the 18 and 1900s.

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After spending almost 2 hours there I opted to cut out and head over to the Musical Instrument Museum a block away.

The museum was quite fun. There weren’t a lot of signs in English but mostly it was just interesting to see the instruments themselves and also listen! They provided audio guides that would play music for you when you wanted to know what a particular instrument sounded like!

It was a very interesting collection and housed in a gorgeous building too. Definitely worth checking out.


I walked over to the palace and the large park beside it. Snapped a few photos before going over to the Mont des Arts and then walking down the hill towards the Grand Place.


It’s a UNESCO heritage sight so I figured it might be worth checking out on my trip. I didn’t plan to spend a long time, but I figured it couldn’t hurt to do a little bit of typical tourist sightseeing.

I dropped by and snapped a few photos before heading off towards another equally famous sight. The Manneken Pis, the ridiculous statue that has ended up becoming a symbol of the city.


Oh my goodness it was so absurdly crowded around the statue it wasn’t even funny. I snapped my photo and ran, not wanting anything to do with such awful crowds.

I headed back to my hostel to ask for a dinner recommendation. Now I will clarify I did ask for something close, and being a hostel sometimes they do tend to assume it should be something budget. So I was recommended a group of fastfood places a few blocks from the hostel.

One was a Thai place called Thai Wok. And as I was pretty hungry and didn’t mind something cheap, I figured I’d go there. Honestly, from what I’ve seen Belgium doesn’t seem to have a huge sense of their own cuisine, so yes most times when I’m there I’ve had Asian food. Now yes, I bet there are fantastic Belgian restaurants in Brussels if you’re looking, but honestly I just needed food.

So yup settled for cheap Asian. It was decent, nothing special, and definitely lacking the flavor of most American Asian dishes.

I walked a bit more, grabbed a waffle for fun (even though my Belgian friend assures me they are tourist food only) and then headed back to my hostel for an early night. After all, I had a really early morning coming so I wanted sleep.


So that was it for me! My great Brussels adventure! Maybe someday I’ll come back to see more, but for a day I felt like I saw some highlights and enjoyed the beauty and history and culture the city had to offer.

The Cat’s Out of the Bag: Why Ypres is Amazing

All right, I’ll admit the title is a bit deceptive. It’s mostly just that I couldn’t resist using a cat joke. See, Ypres is that town that was famed for throwing cats off the belfry. They still have a cat festival every year, though now they’re a bit more humane about it. So no cats were injured in the making of this blog post.

My morning began with classes. I went and helped out in one class at my first school and then went to teach another class at my second, talking about heath in America and the problem of Big Gulps….which Europeans don’t have so they think it’s crazy we have so much soda. Regardless, it makes for an interesting topic with which to practice English.

Then it was off to grab a sandwich and head to meet my family.

We met up outside of my high school. I let them drive through some of the main parts of my town to see a little bit of what it was like. However, the road we wanted to take wasn’t legal to turn right onto. My dad decided to do it anyways. And what do you know we got pulled over by the police

My father apologized and the man said we were lucky before pulling away. Just always follow traffic rules, kiddos. The moment you don’t is the moment you get caught.

Anyhow, there were no other problems as we drove towards Ypres, our destination for the day. We’d decided to venture back into Belgium, since I didn’t know of a lot to do in the French area.

We started off by walking around the town. We looked at the cathedral before going over to where the famed belfry is where they used to throw cats. Then we walked around some of the war memorials and saw one of the cemeteries.

We were all hungry so it seemed like a good time for lunch. My dad had read there was a place with burgers in town, so we stopped there. They were indeed quite tasty, plus fries and croquettes which are always amazing.


There was a little more time to walk around some of  the city and see a few more things.

After that we were getting cold so we headed towards Lille. As always, French places don’t open for dinner until eight or later usually, so we had to kill time until then.

Unfortunately it was quite cold in Lille, so while walking around the shops and squares was fun, it was not really pleasant.


We ended up in the FNAC which is a media store with books and movies and such. It made for a warm place to rest for a bit while we waited for the restaurant to open.

My friend had been recommended a place called La Campagne de Grappe, a local French restaurant that apparently was well liked by the locals. She passed on the advice to me, and I suggested eating there to my family.

So we headed there at eight and sat down to order some interesting dishes. I had the duck lasagna that was indeed quite delicious. Afterwards, for desserts my family had a selection that had several different types of local desserts while I had a roast pear that makes me salivate just thinking about it.

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Overall it was a good day. It was sad to know it was our last, but I said goodbye to my family and knew that this wasn’t the end. I would have more fantastic adventures awaiting me in the future.

If you missed other Christmas Adventure Posts here is a list so you can catch up:

Bourges and Brive-la-Guillarde

Near Bilbao






Seville, Santa Olalla del Cala, Merida

Merida, Evora, Lisbon


Two days of driving (nope not kidding)

Tournai, Mons, Aulne




Fries, Beers, Chocolates, and Waffles: A Belgian Adventure

So I don’t work Tuesdays. It’s my day off thanks to my schedule. So, since school had recommenced on a Tuesday, I had the day to do what I wanted. My family decided that since I live so close to the Belgian border, it might be nice to take advantage of that and head over to explore yet another country.

My dad basically said, “Let’s go over, have some fries, beers, chocolates…” he thought for a moment, “and waffles.”

He insisted four things were weird and we needed a fifth, but we all reassured him that four amazing things all sounded really good.

We started off by driving over to Tournai. Mostly it was just an opportunity to walk around the main square and admire how pretty the town was. We did go into the Cathedral there and walked past the bell tower (it was closed for lunch so we couldn’t go in). Though it was cold, it was at least sunny, so we enjoyed the sunshine and made the most of our adventure.

After a quick jaunt through Tournai we headed to Mons.

We walked to the main square and took some pictures, after which we decided to grab some food. We found a place that had fries and different sauces and grabbed a bunch of different beers to drink. We all thoroughly enjoyed it.

After that we had to go get our chocolate. We stopped by a store to pick up a mixed bag. And then we stopped in for waffles. My Belgian friend tells me these are sort of solely for tourists…but hey they are still fun, and I will never say no to waffles (yup call me Leslie Knope if you will).

We enjoyed the food and then decided it might be fun to walk around a little more, climbing up to a bell tower on the hill.

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With plenty of time left, we opted to head over to a brewery nearby and see if they were open and then the ruins of an abbey that was supposed to be impressive.

The brewery was closed sure enough, so we just headed to the Aulne Abbey… or what was left of it.

It looked like something out of a horror film. Ruins of an abbey in the snow. I admit I jumped a few times when I heard birds calling. Creepy for sure. It was closed for the season, but we were able to get some views over the fences.

My family drove me back to France. We stopped to grab some groceries and for another dinner at Flunch, because cheap and easy is nice sometimes.

After that it was back to my school to unpack and get ready for classes the next day. I had one more day with my family, and then the adventure would be over.