We were able to wander into Grand Place and visit a variety of chocolate shops (including Godiva), antiques stores, try varieties of cheese and belgian beers, as well as bump into some of the most beautiful monuments and churches I've ever seen. I truly fell in love with Brussels, possibly since it was more of a northern europe city, or maybe just because of the wonderful chocolate and waffles.
Lara and I in Grand Place
So many chocolates... so little time
We also managed to see the oh-so-famous statue Mannekin Pis on our first day. It's a statue of a little boy using the restroom... we still couldn't figure out why it was built but we did learn that the statue gets dressed up for various holidays and events. Unfortunately when we saw it he was without clothing.
Me with Mannekin Pis
On Friday we took the metro out to see the Atomium, one of the larger monuments in Brussels, built for its world fair.
Lara and I at the former palace of Brussels
For me the best part of the trip was not having a plan. We were able to stroll the streets and bump into amazing monuments, great chocolate stores, and beautiful lace shops. Brussels was a great city, and the people in it were one of the best parts. We ran into people from every culture, from Morocco, to Italy, to France, even from a man from Alicante! We had to translate one of our tours to this man from Alicante because the tour was not available in Spanish. Everyone we met along the way was helpful and also insightful. We picked up a few Italian phrases and French greetings, and head a handful of other languages as we walked the streets. I learned that Europe's central city holds a true variety of culture and language. I am now inspired to learn more languages, especially after meeting a man from Sweden who casually spoke 8 different languages!! I want to try to learn more (if I can find room in my schedule!) and would definitely love to visit Brussels again. Throughout our trip we used plane, train, navigated the metro, used the city bus, and walked.
The weekend before CIEE as a group traveled to Granada and I loved visiting the Alhambra. The trip was short but it made me excited to visit Granada again. This weekend I had the time of my life in Brussels, but now I'm going to take it easy the next few weekends in preparation for Spring Break!! Over Spring Break I will visit southern spain (Alicante, Granada, Sevilla, then up to Madrid) with Chuck and his dad, then one week in Paris and Rome with my mom, followed by a week with friends (visiting one of my best friends in Siena, Italy, then traveling through hopefully finishing in Vienna and Prague)! I can't wait for Spring Break but the time here has been flying by. On Friday of this week our CIEE group will go to Valencia just for the day for Las Fallas, a local festival. Until then I will be trying to get ahead on lots of papers and projects and enjoying the Alicante sun at the beach.