Vive la Belgique!

7/22/10   –   16:19

I’m going to warn you beforehand, this is going to be a bare-bones entry because I left my memory card in the hostel. I really need to stop doing that.

Due to my lack of pictures, I need you to imagine a Korean man. Have you got it? Cool. Meet 민욱. I randomly met him this morning in the hostel and after parting ways in the lobby, we actually ran into each other again near Grand Place and he suggested we hang out for the day. I was like, sure, lone travelers gotta stick together, yo. He’s a very nice guy and it was nice to go see stuff with another person as opposed to what I’ve usually been doing. I may have left my memory card in the hostel, but he let me use his camera to take some pictures of all the stuff that went down that day. He said he’d email them to me, so maybe sometime in the future this will be filled ith photos like the rest of the entries. We’ll see.

Due again to my unintentionally impeccable timing, my last day in Brussels also happened to be their national holiday in which they celebrate the fact that Belgium still exists. [Woo!]

It was kind of like 4th of July festivities in the US. There were parades, free Belgian dairy products, desserts, flags, face-painting for the kids, learning how to use a metal detector to find land mines for the kids [for serious], rock walls, ziplining, tank-riding, and a whole bunch of police and army displays for some reason.

I’m really disappointed that I couldn’t have been in Brussels for the night-time festivities. There was supposed to be a gigantic fireworks display in front of the royal palace. :/

Among the police displays was a car that flipped over repeatedly and a chair that simulated a car crash. The police didn’t let anybody get hurt, of course, so I think that this was actually inadvertently encouraging automotive accidents. Come on guys! Let’s show people that car accidents can be safe and fun! >_>;;

I bypassed those exhibits/rides because the lines were pretty long and I didn’t have too much time so I settled for a quiz show type thing sponsored by the EU people. I was very confident in my knowledge of European capitals and flags [it was a matching type game] but then I realized that they included Eastern Europe too. I figured I shouldn’t embarrass myself by attempting to muddle my way through this quiz show in horrible French and showcasing my insufficient knowledge of Eastern European country locations. I watched and clapped as the 10 year old got the prize instead.

In the parade they had a lot of people tossing flags of all the EU nations colorguard style. I guess because Brussels is the capital of the EU, Belgium Day is also EU day too. Hm. ::shrug::

I had lunch with 민욱 and he shared his panini with me [thanks!] before he went off to Central Station to go to Bruges for the night. I took my laptop and tried to find internet. I had to buy something from a bar to use their wifi so I enjoyed some more of the Belgian beers. The one I had wasn’t too strong, but I had two of them because I felt bad for mooching their internet for so long.

On that note, I feel like it’s ok to be tipsy in Belgium and Holland at any time of day. However, I have never seen anybody openly dunk. Their social stigma for that sort of thing has made them much too mature for that, I suppose.

I wrapped up my bloggage/email checkage at the bar and the festivities were still going on. There was a break-dance competition in the square nearby [Breakdancin’ for Belgium Woo!] and all sorts of fighter planes [?] kept flying in formation all over the city. Pretty spiffy.

By the way, I’m glad the weathr agreed with me for my last day in Belgium. It was overcast and cool and even though it sort of literally rained on their parade [aww :/] I had a nice time anyway. Vive la Belgique!

I got my luggage from the hostel and made my way to the bus station. The ride took around five hours with traffic and entry into France was not so smooth. People were sort of getting pissed that the bus was running late [I didn’t care one way or the other, I didn’t book a hostel so I had no place to go] and then we were made even later because of the customs inspection. They brought a dog in to sniff our bags and everything. Oh those French.

Luckily, everyone who needed to got on the metro before it closed at 12:30 and I was there to watch it do so. Yes. I slept on the floor of the Parisian metro station at Gallieni and it was smelly, most likely unsanitary, and definitely one of the worst nights of sleep I’ve ever had. [It even beat that night on the ferry to Rome and the night when I missed the train in Bern. Yeah.] It made me feel like a true backpacker, though. Haha.

In any case, this bleeds into the next entry [which starts the Parisian chapter]  so I’ll leave it at that. I’ll try to be more punctual. It is my last week in Europe, after all.

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  1. […] Oh, also, I guess this is a good time to mention that this post is brought to you entirely by #onlyiPhone because I am a forgetful Frances and left my dSLR on the bed shortly before departure. #opps. I mean, iPhone + post-edit is a pretty darn good travel camera anyway so not too big of a loss. This wouldn’t have been the first time, either. […]



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