HOW IT STARTED
As a child born and brought up in a middle-class family in India, all my knowledge about Europe was mainly from Football, movies, and social media platforms and I used to love seeing photos of the different cities in Europe and reading about what to see and do in different places. So, when I got an opportunity to pursue my masters in Germany, it was like a dream come true and the very first week I landed in Germany, I was buzzing to see places.
It so happened that one of my friends had to go to Aachen (which is a 10-hour journey from my place, Ingolstadt) to get some stuff done. On hearing this I was immediately on board to go on this trip with him and we also planned to make a 1-day visit to Brussels, mind you, we didn’t have bank accounts by that time, we were still living off the bare minimum amount of money we had on our travel cards and also we didn’t properly plan this trip. So, we reach Aachen and get to our friend’s place have a couple of beers and start planning our trip, now guys Rule number 1 about traveling in Europe is ‘plan in the most extreme of detail and plan in advance’.
While “researching” we came across a ticket using which we could travel in a regional train for one day to Brussels and back paying just 8 euros per person. Seemed like a good enough deal, we woke early, reached the platform mentioned barely on time. A train also came right on schedule and we hopped on board. The train was really comfortable, very fast and seemed a very good deal for the price we paid. Guys, when something is too good to be true, it mostly is. Surely enough the ticket checker came along and asked us for tickets, we proudly take the tickets out of our pockets and show it to her. She without a change of tone says we can only use the regional trains with the ticket we bought and the train we boarded was a deluxe train (an ICE), we knew we were screwed. We ended up paying a hefty fine of 162 Euros and maybe she felt bad for us and said we saved 2 hours by getting on that train, which made us feel no better to be fair. Always read the terms and conditions guys!Anyway, we reached Brussels around 2.5 hours earlier than scheduled but our moods were dampened by this incident. After a few minutes, some rational thinking prevailed and we decided not to let it ruin our trip.
WHAT TO DO IN BRUSSELS
WORLD FAMOUS BELGIAN WAFFLES
First on our bucket list was to have a breakfast of the world famous Belgian Waffles and we went to one of the best Waffle places in Belgium ” Maison Dandoy”. We might’ve waited only 15 minutes but the lack of sleep and hunger made it feel like a couple of hours, but once we got our table and the food came it made up big time for the worth. There are only a few times I’ve felt emotionally attached to food, that was one of them. That really turned our moods upside down and it was all uphill from there.
rOAM THE STREET
After the scrumptious meal, we decided to roam around and see the beautiful architecture in the town square, it was mind-blowing. The photos do not do any justice. You’ve got to see it to believe how good they actually are. The streets in Brussels are so beautiful and there are very talented street performers in almost every corner. We were really taking in the atmosphere and enjoying this European experience
Next, our plan was to go to The Atomium, we used the daily pass ticket, which we purchased on our arrival (highly recommended) to board a tram to the tram station near Atomium (we found all these information on google maps). There was a 1 km walk from the station to the Atomium but we could already see the top of this huge structure. The experience of seeing it becoming bigger and bigger as you walk towards it on the straight boulevard is surreal and once you get close enough to the structure, you will stand in awe for a couple of minutes admiring the architecture. Of course, you can go inside and go for the tour, for like 20 euros per person, but we saved that experience for another day.
After this, we went back to the train station to find out whether we could go back with the same ticket we’d bought in the morning. To our surprise, we were told that we couldn’t and we purchased new tickets for a train back home and found out that we had around 3 hours before we needed to board the train.
So we decided to the famed pub “Delirium”, we had a pretty long walk, and by that time we were pretty tired. But this pub was so worth it, they serve around 2000 different types of beer. Although we wanted to try them all, we made do with 4 beers and they were damn good. One of the best beers I’ve had so far. This pub is a must visit place in Brussels.
auf wiedersehen Brussels
By the time we were done, it was time to head back and catch our trains. So, we rushed back and caught our train back to Aachen. Thus ended memorable first trip for me in Europe. A bittersweet experience but thinking back, I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
The next day morning we had our journey back to Ingolstadt by train. We made sure we boarded the correct train, we got to know we had a 10-hour journey ahead of us and had to change trains 7 times. But the trip along the Rhein river was something that will always remain in my mind. The pictures I took on my phone do no Justice to the beauty.
I’ll leave you with the must do things in Brussels:
- Have Belgian Waffles from “Mason Dandoy”
- Just spend some time experiencing the architecture and the streets in Belgium
- Visit the Atomium.
- Wind down at Delirium enjoy some of the finest beers in Europe.
That’s all for this time, I shall be back with my experiences of visiting other places in Europe or India soon.
PS: Always plan well in advance and book proper tickets to avoid any unfortunate experiences.