BRUSSELS, BELGIUM

I’m so excited to finally start uploading more after weeks of having nothing interesting to talk about! If you follow my instagram, you’ll already know that I have been in Brussels for the last few days for a music festival: Rock Werchter. I decided to book a few extra nights and explore Belgium a little.

I arrived on Wednesday at dinner time after bagging myself the last seat on the shuttle bus from Charleroi airport in the south of the country. I booked my return (important) ticket for this in advance but wasn’t guaranteed a seat straight away. When I sat down, I was feeling quite chuffed with myself after being nervous about travelling solo and sure I would mess something up. Ultimately, the dream was too good to be true, I checked my boarding pass out of curiosity and realised that my return flight was from a different airport with a different airline and that my return bus ticket was non-refundable. Lesson learned, £15 down the drain.

When I got to the drop off point I decided to walk to my hostel and save money – after all google maps is never right and it wouldn’t really take me the full half an hour to walk there. But of course, it did and it was quite possibly the hottest weather I’ve ever felt. But I was full of adrenaline and ready to explore.

I had a little nosey at the Rock Werchter page and saw that a girl, Brooke, had asked if anyone would like to meet up as she was travelling solo, we quickly got in touch and ended up meeting for dinner that night rather than waiting until Friday to meet at the festival. I also met some really lovely girls in my hostel from England who took me in and taught me some strange and slightly confusing board games. We also decided we would all go out together the following evening.

On my way to dinner, I decided to wander around the city centre of Brussels and found that there was a medieval fair on with jousting and flag throwing and lots of music. The atmosphere was incredible and everyone was in such good spirits, I had seen a different side to Brussels than the dark and dingy city I first saw on the bus journey in.

At dinner, we decided to have a few cocktails and just chat about life where we were from. Our waiter was so lovely and most definitely fancied my friend, so we ended up getting some free cocktails and he invited us to the famous Delirium Bar which sells 5,000 beers as he worked there and would give us drinks on the house. Unfortunately, we were both extremely tired so we didn’t make it out that night.

The following morning, I decided to venture out of Brussels as Jamie had suggested I go to Bruges in the North of Belgium. It was only a 55 minute train-ride away and I didn’t have any plans so I went ahead and booked a ticket. Bruges was absolutely stunning, like something taken straight out of the pages of a fairytale. It was so nice to just wander round the park and along the cobbled streets beside the canal and take in the surroundings. I also ate some amazing waffles in Bruges at Chez Albert.

I decided to spend the rest of the day chilling out before heading out with the girls I’d met the night before. At about 4pm a girl came flying into the hostel room and was so smiley and happy and we introduced ourselves. She was from Buffalo in New York and I invited her out with us for drinks, she was just on her way to a walking tour which started in 10 minutes despite being a 20 minute walk away but she asked me to go along. I was so tired that I didn’t feel up to it and I had seen enough sights for one day.

We all met in the bar of the hostel and tried out some of the beers – I’m not a beer fan but the fruity ones were really nice though arguably just cider. Afterwards we headed to Delirium with the goal of getting a boot of beer so that we could all “get an insta”. The boot of beer was only €15 split between three of us but came with a €40 deposit in case we dropped the glass. The desire for that instagram was so strong that I paid it and we just agreed if we dropped it we would have to split the deposit. Luckily, the glass remained in tact and we all got our Instagram pictures. We then headed to a horror themed bar which sold drinks such as ‘sex in the coffin’ and ‘death’ (known as death because it was pretty much just absinthe). This was cool but pretty expensive so we googled the cheapest places in Belgium and a place called ‘Celtica’ came up which was an Irish style pub. It wasn’t exactly cheap but there was live music and it was a lot of fun.

The following day, Friday, was the day I was most excited for, I got to go to Rock Werchter and see Ben Howard and Snow Patrol. I caught a train to Leuven and met Brooke before we got on the shuttle bus to the festival. After walking from the bus for 2km we finally reached the festival gates and it was just as amazing as I had hoped and so well organised. I’ve never felt such a good atmosphere at a festival, no one was fighting or shoving each other or doing that stupid thing that Glasgow crowds seem to do where they throw a whole £10 drink over the crowd (can someone please explain this?!). We just chilled out all day, watched Wolf Alice, The Kooks, a bit of Snow Patrol and finally Ben Howard. I was told I had to go to the stage he was playing early as once the venue reaches capacity they stop people from getting in. I missed pretty much all of Snow Patrol for Ben Howard. And I’ll be brutally honest, he was absolute shit. He had an hour slot and he played 1 maybe 2 of his popular songs and they were all slow. We were at a music festival, we went there to dance and have fun and listen to Ben. I paid €102 for that ticket purely for him and we all stood there bobbing our heads a bit for a whole hour. No one could sing along either because they were all new songs. I almost cried. But nevertheless the festival was amazing and I can’t fault anything about it, such good vibes, I’d definitely go back and camp next year.

On the same day, the quarter finals of the World Cup were shown and Belgium beat Brazil 2-1, this meant that Brussels was crazy. I took an Uber from the train station and it normally takes about 7 minutes, it took me 45 minutes because everyone had gotten in their cars and were beeping their horns in celebration. It was amazing and such a nice atmosphere. I passed out pretty quickly though from tiredness.

And today, well I met up with Brooke in the city centre, got some Belgian chocolate and visited the lovely museum next door which had exhibitions concerning the power of posters in politics and day to day life and now I’m chilling writing this before I have to get up at 4am tomorrow to catch a flight home.

Belgium, you’ve been sweet.

Laura.

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