I packed my bag and picked my outfit the last night, to maximize efficiency. Charlotte and I got on the Intercity at 8:55 AM. Yes, I actually have the ability to wake up early enough to do so. Waking up for a routine is not nearly as exciting as waking up for chocolate! We had to stand for part of the ride, as the train was very full. We ate our respective packed breakfasts quite successfully, despite having to deal with people swishing past us frequently. We kept laughing at the open mouth sleeping passenger behind us, so that perked us up. A not half-bad looking gentleman gave up his seat for us about midway through the ride. We greatly appreciated it, and we both really liked the detailing on his trousers, but didn't mention it.
Staring at the signs as we rolled in, we pushed and shoved our way off at Brussels Central Station. Wandering down the hill and wondering what we were looking at, we found a cafe near an outdoor market. People slowly milled in, tourists are always fun to watch. The coffee was not my favorite but the food soon improved. We continued wandering, and throughout the day I had freshly fried french fries by a man clearly dedicated to his work and a chewy (Belgian!) waffle with sugary strawberries and powdered sugar.
The center was almost too much to take in. I adored absorbing the architecture and patterns, and having a good long look at the dressed up Mannequin Pis. We stopped at a jewelry shop with lots of rings on display, cleverly attached to a table with chains and washers, so you could try them on without theft. However, this really was a food day! Mostly, a sweet day, literally and slangularly. Some shops offered free samples, which is definitely a good idea, as good samples usually result in a sale. I was given a marvelous cone shaped jelly candy, and later, a small square of wonderful chocolate.
We got seats for the ride home, munched a bit, and I reconnected with Rotterdam by photographing graffiti through the window before we arrived at Rotterdam Centraal again. It was a solid 10 hour day out.
I still can't get over the fact that it is possible to hop on a train right in town, and in 2 hours, be in a new country. To simplify hours of thoughts I've had: I've learned a lot living in Europe but, for the next few years, I'd like to think of it as a vacation destination. There is a big difference between living and visiting. My time here has made me appreciate home, the comforts, and the familiarities which allow me to pursue my dreams. And, I like the idea of Europe remaining a magical place.
people waiting for the ol' 8:55am train
some old friends
where the chocolate and lace hangs out
I love handpainted letters
buildings in the center of town
jelly cone candy
crazy candy shop
Beth and the little guy who saved the town
giant green parking cone, no big deal
huge vending machine!
the outfit, had to add a sweater
my favorite design