Leaving Paris after just 4 days I felt like there was so much left unseen, but the itch to see Europe was tugging at me and a new friend was waiting to see me in Belgium. Overall though Paris turned into a great first stop off for my travels. The people were great, the hostel better than expected and most of all I had taken the leap and not regretted it.
I’ll touch more on train travel in a separate post but best advice I can say is get there early to ensure there are no problems and if you need to reserve a seat make sure you do it.
I had a short trip up to Brussels from Paris, just 1.5 hours which is far shorter than the one I have planned from Amsterdam to Berlin. This gave me my first look at the European countryside and while I didn’t get to see a great deal I was blown away with how green everything is. Poor Australia has suffered through years of drought so to see this much green grass is rather weird.
Arriving in Brussels and finding Elke was rather simple as long as you ignore the fact I walked straight past her once without even realizing it. Dropping my belongings at her house for safe keeping we jumped train and headed for Gent.
The first thing I noticed when leaving the station (I wish I had a photo of it) was the sheer number of bicycles that were gathered outside the train station. I mean I know getting around on a bike is much more common in Europe but never did I expect to see so many in just one spot. I couldn’t even guess how many where there to be honest, you just have to imagine a large open area full of bikes.
Over the next few hours we wandered the streets, stopping off for a beer or two (I had a Trappist Achel Blonde, you must try it) and met up with some of Elke’s friends. While in Gent I also got to sample a very delicious chocolate brownie and how yum it was. In just a few short hours of being in Belgium I had sampled both Belgium’s Beer and Chocolate, good day huh.
Then it was back to Brussels for a feed of ribs at a great little restaurant. Being all I’d eating in Paris was baguettes and the like a restaurant meal with red meat was just what my body was craving. What a meal it was, when they landed the massive plate of ribs on my table I didn’t know where to start, they were hanging off both sides of the plate.
Once dinner had passed it was time to part ways. I collected my belongings from Elke’s house and set off to find my hostel in town. Only getting lost once as the station I stopped at had multiple exits and like usual I climbed out of the wrong one.
Checking into the hostel and walking into my cramped little room with 3 older guys all talking amongst themselves was a little daunting, worse still my greetings appeared to have fallen on deaf ears. With nowhere to store my backpack but on the floor of the little room, I grabbed my messenger bag that held all things important and expensive and climbed into bed for the night.
It’s so cool to meet someone you only know through the internet. And it is hard to leave somewhere so interesting and exciting after only a few days. But with the rest of the continent at your fingertips, it’s also hard not to move on. I know the feeling well.
Hey Sabina. I’m really lucky to have met so many amazing people since I started this blog and to be able to actually meet them is beyond great.
Grr, I hate unfriendly hostel-dwellers. What’s the point of staying there at all if they don’t socialize? Awesome trip so far though!
.-= Candice´s last blog ..The Best Dive Pub Ever Found, the Inn of Olde =-.
Terrible isn’t it Candice. The hostel wasn’t the greatest either but when there are so few hostels in Brussels what can you do. Probably doesn’t help I book everything last minute as well.
You should always leave something unseen for your next visit!
Love those Belgian beers! And Dutch beers! And German and Polish and Czech …
Hey Steve. This is very true and trust me I have lots to go back and see. Guide books are a start but you really don’t get a feel for what you want to see until your actually there.
Oh and the beers mmmm very very good indeed.
So glad you guys had fun! I can’t believe you’re getting to meet up with all of our internet friends… Trying to get a good night’s sleep with strange hostel roommates is the worst!
.-= Abby´s last blog ..Expat Diaries: Linking to Your Past =-.
Had a lot of fun Abby. I’m making up for the fact I won’t be at TBEX you see 🙂
The hostel was just a bed to me. I did very much my own thing there but lucky not all the hostels have been like that one.
Normally Caitlin would be right, but all of us seem to have a common camaraderie – travel is the link! And good beer and vegemite. 🙂
.-= Nomadic Chick´s last blog ..How To: Get Rid of Paper =-.
This is true Jeannie, we all seem to just click together like puzzle pieces. I can’t wait till we are all in the same spot together.
People keep asking me who this Chris guy is in my Copenhagen video and then they ask me where we met. It always sounds so weird saying “oh you know, we met on the internet…” non-twitter addicts don’t get it and think that everyone on the internet is an axe-murderer and you should never meet up with them. haha It is nice and refreshing to meet new people and the internet is just a great way to break the ice ahead of time! 🙂
.-= Cailin´s last blog ..Matador TV & Travel Yourself in Copenhagen =-.
You got that right Cailin. These days with facebook, twitter etc its so much easier and safer to suss out someone and get to know them beforehand.
Oh and I hope you told all of these people that I’m like super nice too.
i will like to meet you as a new friend