Day 7. After over ten wonderful hours in a night train trying to sleep in such a position, I arrived in Brussels. I had one afternoon only, so I ignored my aching body and sore throat—which was getting worse, but it was Sunday in Europe, therefore drugstores were closed—and left my backpack in a locker at the station to see Brussels’ main attractions with my hands free.
Sounds like a very practical plan, doesn’t it? Ha-hum. Be aware of a few things that might hinder this “simple” goal. Here goes the Belgian Fails:
- Waste 15 min on a row of defective lockers. (Classic.)
- Waste 10 min on a row that eats your money. (Not cool.)
- Ask help from the guy at the luggage stand, only to be told his job does not involve helping with the lockers. (???)
- Follow very-not-so-clear instructions on the lockers, with 99% chances to lock the wrong locker and have to pay again. (4,5€.)
Once I’d been through the locker hell, I spent fifteen minutes helping others figuring out how this worked. Then I got a free map at the station and headed out. Thankfully, most of Brussels’ top attractions are near one another. Aim for Rue de l’Étuve, which connects La Grand Place to the peeing celebrity. Lucky as I am, there were scaffoldings on one entire side of La Grand Place, making the view everything but what I had seen on the web. Still. I snapped a picture of 15th century Mannekin-Pis, with this very nice angle that takes out all the heads of the tourists. It is said that the little guy has more than 900 outfits, but I met him in his birthday suit.
I entered the chocolate shop next door, Neuhaus, which had been highly recommended by a good friend of mine, and gawked at the unaffordable choco-rascals. After tasting a sample, I silently cried for five whole minutes. Then I bought a waffle across the street and laughed at the ridiculously small fork they give to eat those. After one bite, inevitably, I had chocolate all over my shirt. At that moment, I didn’t care. Belgian waffles definitely have some magic ingredient, because halfway through, my sore muscles were no longer sore.
Unfortunately, it didn’t cure the lost voice, which stuck with me all the way to Bruges, and prompted a few more failures. Like I needed that.
Fail Count: 5