Brussels, Belgium

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I was going to stop by Luxembourg on my way to Brussels. Not long after quietly getting out of Anne’s quaint little apartment in Frankfurt, I found myself sitting comfortably in a train seat. Minutes before departing, an announcement broke in the train, but I can’t understand a word since it was all in German and no English translation was spoken. The next thing I knew everyone got up and started for the door. Not speaking German, I asked the lady next to me in English, but she doesn’t understand English. Fortunately a friendly stranger who spoke English explained to me that we need to switch the train because this train is not leaving from this station.

I followed everyone to get onto the next train, but after waiting for an hour, we were again chased off the train. Now everyone is stocked into the ticket office to get either a ticket refund or get on a new train. Since I had booked for Brussels tonight, I had no option but to stay in the long line and try to reschedule for another train. This effort proved in vain since the new trains were also not departing. It wasn’t long before I realized all those trains leaving from my platform were not departing. By then it’s already around 10am. I finally managed to get back through the long line and explained to the ticket counter that not only I need to get to Luxembourg, but I also need to go to Brussels. Fortunately the cashier found this urgency and immediately issued me a direct train going to Brussels instead.

It turned out that the electric signal box for my platform were interrupted by two birds who apparently got fried over the box, broke the signal box, and paralyzed all the trains going through my platform…

Instead of leaving at 7am that morning, I ended up leaving at 2pm that afternoon. I got in Brussels at 5pm, earlier than planned, that evening. It wasn’t hard to find my hostel since it is right next to the town hall at the heart of the city, but it was a bit tricky to know that the address listed under my hostel on hostelworld.com is actually the registration desk of this hostel – not the hostel itself. You still have to stop by this registration desk to get the key, but the hostel itself is right next to the grand plaza. Such was the detail that I missed with my friend Maggie, who was a former coworker currently residing in Brussels. She ended up in the registration hostel, but could not find me, because I was in the other hostel. I finally got in touch with her and we had a wonderful time together that evening.

I wasn’t fully aware that Brussels was not only famous for its Belgium chocolate, but also its 300 different types of beers. I was fortunate to land in a backpackers map which directed me to a nondescript building in a ran-down part of the town that produces the original Cantillon beers. It was a little museum with a lot of warmth. After visiting I had the fortunate to meet with its owner and had a nice chat with fellow visitor over some of his beers.

Of course, as a city of beers, its night is a bit unpredictable. Besides a couple original fries (well… French fries, but the locals hate the “French” part because they are the original inventors – before the Americans confused the Belgian with the French), there was a huge beer contest the night I stayed in the city. I got picked up by a couple guys at the fries shop and the next thing I knew people were taking pictures of me right and left. Apparently everyone at this beer contest has a mask, and the most creative photos with this mask could be the winner….

From Brussels, Belgium, posted by Jenny Zheng on 8/03/2011 (123 items)

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