Belgium was never on my list of places to visit – until it became a place I needed to go to, to visit someone. By the time the day to fly out came, it became a place I was stuck having to visit since I couldn’t get a refund on my flights which were booked a month prior. Even days before my flight I was trying to finesse Turkish Airlines for a refund or a credit with no avail. A major part of me didn’t even want to be there but it was one of those “fuck it” moments where you just do something and hope you have fun. And boy am I grateful to have gone because it was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had!
I’ll take you guys through my journey in Belgium one day at a time because it was a hell of a trip! This blog post will be dedicated to my first day in Belgium. I arrived in Brussels airport late in the evening ready to head to my hotel in the city center. Everything was going great and I even figured out how to take the train straight to the hotel from the airport!
So I get off the train with my suitcase and carry-on and head up 3 flights of stairs to get outside the station. I go to grab my phone so I can use the GPS to guide me to the hotel when…
**cue suspenseful music**
…I realized it was missing!!! That was probably the biggest mini heart attack I’ve ever had in my life. First of all, I literally just bought the newest iPhone at the time a week before my trip. Second, it was the first day of a 2 week long solo Eurotrip and I could not be without my phone! So I rush back down those flights of stairs to find a security guard or any train personnel. Luckily Brussels is pretty advanced – unlike the MTA in NYC – so they actually had somebody working in an office right on the platform!
I rush in there with a look of distraught on my face ready to cry and tell him about my phone and come to find out he doesn’t speak English! Of course he doesn’t – he doesn’t have to. Belgium is a French and Dutch speaking country. I immediately have negative thoughts rushing through my head like I knew I shouldn’t have come to Belgium. I should’ve just lost the $1K I spent on my flight. The reason I booked the flights in the first place was the same reason I shouldn’t have gone.
I got a sign that maybe my dark thoughts weren’t valid.
I whip out my iPad and the station employee logs me into the station’s WiFi so I can use Google translate! I ended up explaining everything to him and making him call the conductor of the train I was just on. The guy in the station had zero hope for me so I told him I wanted to speak to the conductor myself (who also spoke English). After a lot of crying and demanding, they found the train and the cleaning crew who were on it at that moment. They actually searched the train for my phone and confirmed that they found it!!! I couldn’t believe they actually got it for me. This immediately made me feel at ease. It also made me feel like the worst part of the trip has passed. I just have to come back at 5AM – 4 hours later – to pick up the phone when the train comes back into the station. Goes to show you how far some persistence can take you! 😀
The best part of this experience was it forced me to be out and about on Friday night while most people were asleep. I watched people leaving the clubs and shop keepers getting their stores and restaurants ready for the day.
This was all during my first 8 hours in Belgium so you can imagine how the rest of my trip went! I made a bunch of new friends and got to tackle an international city alone for the first time.