Day 171, 172 & 173
Brussels, the great capital of Belgium and as others would say, Europe, was an incredible city for us. Whilst most others told us it was quite a boring place and everyone in Bruges told us they hated it by sheer good luck and timing we managed to have an amazing time. From parties in the streets to riots in our street we really experienced all Brussels had to offer. Meeting great people along the way and eating all the foods we had grown to love It really wrapped up Belgium in a wicked way.
Whilst the start of the city was quite slow arriving at 1pm to find our hostel closed, things really picked up on the second day. We killed most of the first at a movie whilst we waited to check in before going out for a bite to eat and grabbing a beer. We did however meet Chris that day, an Aussie guy in our dorm, who would spend the rest of his time in Belgium by our side.
Day two started with the normal sightseeing heading out to find everything we had been told. We went to the old town square, found lots of big buildings and explored all the Christmassy things that were open. We found a retro games store, an amazing sandwich store and swung past the grand palace and Greek looking stock exchange building.
The only thing we actually knew to see before coming to Brussels was the famous Manneken Pis statue (The peeing boy). Yet after a good 20 minute trek we arrived only to find him covered with a giant sock. Upon asking around as to why he was covered, we were simply told "its one of his costumes". So instead of seeing the famous statue as we had always planned, we saw a brown giant sock. Fantastic.
Disappointed we couldn't see the statue we had trekked all the way across town for, we were in a bit of a crappy mood. It was then however that Brussels showed us its best and completely turned our day around. As we walked through the streets back to our side of town we could hear music pounding. We got closer only to find heaps and heaps of kids walking around with jugs, glasses, steins and mugs all filled with beer. As we turned onto the main road it took us a minute or two to work out what we were looking at.
The street was closed off, filled with trucks and people all wearing lab coats and drinking beer. For a second we thought that all the doctors in town had just let loose. On closer inspection we found that all these people were uni students and we had stumbled onto their version of Schoolies. From 12pm that afternoon until 7pm at night the city allows the uni sororities to drive trucks down the streets filled with people serving beer and djs. All those making a pledge to a sorority that year wear lab coats and everyone else just gets drunk to celebrate. You bring your own glass, pay 10 euro and follow the trucks as they move down the street drinking as much beer as you can handle. Its safe to say it is a very messy night.
Hearing of all this we sprinted back home, raiding our hostel kitchen for anything we could use as a beer glass. As soon as we each grabbed something we ran back eager to join in the fun. For the 4 hours that still remained of the truck beer convoy we joined in, meeting lots of people and finding out more and more about it as we went. Rain came and passed but nothing stopped, everyone was having a hell of a time. It totally made our Brussels experience for us, turning this dull town into a party place.
At 7pm on the nose, the trucks shut up and drove away and people began to clear out. We headed out for a bit of bite of bite before going home to chill. Yet this chill quickly turned into a early sleep as the hangovers from that afternoon quickly caught up with us. It was an awesome day and we were even in bed by 11.
Our last day started on a sour note as we were forced into a booking frenzy. The night before we received an email informing us that the ski resort we were planning on going to that evening would opening late this season, well after we had planned to leave Europe. For a good couple of hours we got stuck onto the computers trying to sort the mess out. We eventually found another resort to go to but had to change all of our transport and accommodation plans. It was a bit of stuff up but we were still going snowboarding.
Once we finally stepped out the door we walked straight into our second street party, this one a huge occupy protest. People were everywhere and there was chaos in the streets. Protestors were chanting, screaming, setting off fire crackers and just generally going mad. It was like we had entered a war zone. We followed it for quite some time seeing if it would either pick up or be shut down. However nothing really changed as they just continued to walk through the streets. We eventually got bored and left heading to all the sightseeing places we never had time for the day before.
We went into a lot of shops that day looking at both souvenir stuff and just general shopping. We went past Christmas markets and fairs and wondered around finding lots of cool stalls and even another ice rink. We found the best waffle place in town and had an amazing waffle there before heading to a 10 storey parking lot with the supposed best view in town. The parking definitely lived up to reputation showing us the town in a way we had never seen it before. We found new sides to the town we never seen before and even caught a glimpse from far of the Atomium, a huge metal sculpture in the shape of the iron atom magnified 165 billion times built for the worlds fair.
We headed into this new side of town to explore, yet soon after we discovered our 12 hour bus to snowboarding would be leaving soon. We headed back to the hostel, cleaned ourselves up, grabbed a bite, farewelled our mates and headed off.
We had experienced Brussels in a way most don't. I'm sure without the events we stumbled into it wouldn't of been the same and probably would have been quite boing. Yet we had one hell of a time and I feel very lucky to have had that chance.
To snowboarding we go!