Ok! Now that I caught up on Paris, I have to get started on Brussels! I was pretty sad to be leaving the UK on the morning of the 3rd, partly because Paris made me really appreciate London, partly because Rebecca and I were parting ways, and partly because I was secretly a little bit terrified of traveling by myself in a foreign country!
The flight to Brussels was an interesting experience. They told me when I checked in my bags that the flight was delayed by half an hour, which didn't bother me too much because I wasn't in a hurry and didn't have a connecting flight or anything. So, I got through security and went to sit in the general terminal area of heathrow to watch for my gate assignment. Originally, it told me the gate would be assigned at 10:10 for a flight leaving at 11. Oops nope, next it would come in at 10:20 for a flight leaving at 11:20. This pattern continued for about 40 minutes, until we were finally given a gate number and our plane would finally leave! Over an hour late, but hey, it was leaving! Or so we thought. Once on the plane, they told us (and my technical French knowledge is slightly lacking so I didn't understand completely) that we had to wait for a space to take off essentially. So we waited for another half hour to actually get off the ground. The actual flight went smoothly, easy take off and no turbulance, and I got a row of seats to myself because the plane was nearly empty Then, we got to the landing. Because of all of our delays, there wasn't a gate available to us. So, we circled the airport for about 20-30 minutes until we could land. I got through customs just fine, and was congratulating myself on not getting stressed out by the situation as I got to the baggage terminal. And our baggage was delayed. Naturally. It was the most disorganized flight experience of my life! At this point, I was so exhausted. I had been in three countries in less than 12 hours, and for the first time I started feeling pretty homesick. I caught a taxi to the hotel, and sitting in a sterile hotel room at night by yourself doesn't really help with homesickness, but luckily Elena was arriving in a few hours! I decided to try to use endorphines to counteract my sadness, and on the treadmill they were playing midsomer murders, a family favorite! I was happy to see something familiar! And then before I knew it Elena was here! We sat in the hotel room and talked until about 2 am about various things, before deciding it was time for bed. Elena also figured out how to turn on the heat in my room, which was a definite plus since it was -12 c, or 10 f outside.
The next morning, we woke up at 8 to start our tour of Brussels! First we walked up through a beautiful park, and saw the Brussels take on the arc de triomphe. It was a really foggy morning, and the park with the monument was just surreal. Neither Elena nor I had had time to really plan out what to see in Brussels, but we knew that we wanted to see grand place, find a chocolate shop, and find me a pain au freaking chocolat. The pain au chocolat quest was actually an easy one! Walking down from the arc, we ran right into a pâtisserie! I am very pleased to say, also, that it was pretty tasty! So my need had finally been fulfilled! I do have to say though, for people who have access to a trader joes, buy the frozen pain au chocolat they offer there. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on if you can get one, the trader joes option is still the best pain au chocolat I've had, especially if you can eat them when they're still warm.
Finding the grand place was a bit more of a struggle. Elena is very good at reading maps, but we still managed to make what should have been a 40 minute walk into about 3 hours. That was kind of fun though, because we got a really good tour of the city and covered a lot of ground (also because it was way too cold to stop moving). Our most common word of the trip was "woah" though, because the ground was so so slippery from the snow! While we were lost, we also happened to run right into the chocolate store I had researched online, which was a very happy accident! The grand place itself, while slightly elusive, was really a sight, and definitely worth finding. I'm currently using an office computer at my hotel since this is the only way to access the internet, but I will upload all of the photos from the trip as soon as I can!
After the grand place, we decided to walk back up in the direction of the hotel to find a place to eat lunch. A lot of the places were so expensive, and we weren't really interested in trying fois gras, so we had decided to get lunch at a grocery store when we ran into a pita place. Best pita ever. Mine was chicken curry with rice and lettuce and pineapple, all in this amazing sauce. Neither Elena or I were quite sure what she got, but it was tasty she said, so that's all that counts!
The walk up to the hotel from the restaurant was pretty quick, even though we decided to take the slightly longer route in order to see some other places. Brussels is a pretty nice place! Much, much quieter than Paris, and more inviting for sure, though not nearly as courteous as the British. With all of the beautiful parks, big squares, and cute narrow walkways lined with cafes, I can understand why people would be tempted to live here.
Unfortunately, Elena had to leave soon after we got back to the hotel to catch her train, after which I promptly passed out. Then I woke up at 1 am, and couldn't fall asleep so I tried to find something on TV. The only thing in English was this really odd western film about the border control. Seriously the weirdest and possibly most disturbing movie of my life. Somehow after that I was able to fall asleep though, and sleep until noon today! They say that when your body needs it, you can sleep forever, and apprently I needed it. Unfortunately not much is open today at all since it's a Sunday, but it was a good opportunity to catch up on my blog and check email and stuff like that :) I am very excited to get to Edinburgh, and really really excited to finally get to Stirling!! My flight leaving Brussels is scheduled for tomorrow morning, and I just checked, it is still planned despite lots of cancellations within Europe due to the weather. Please wish me luck, and if my flight is cancelled, you can find me in a puddle at the Brussels airport!
Finally caught up! Until Scotland!