Take You Out To Belgium, Welkom!

That’s what Nicki Minaj said in her song, “High School”.. lol.. It’s how you say “welcome” in Dutch, which is one of the two most spoken languages in Belgium – the other being French. Belgium is a small European country located on the Western coast of the continent across the English Channel from the UK. It has the Netherlands to the North, Germany to the East, and France to its South.

Getting There:
I used Turkish Airlines to get to Belgium from Los Angeles. Although the flight was long as hell, it gave me a nice layover in Istanbul – but more on that layover later. The airline was actually really great to travel on. The food on the plane was amazing. All their meals are halal by the way so I didn’t need to make any special requests to avoid being served pork. You can, of course, still make special requests for kosher, vegetarian, vegan, bland, etc. Once I got to Belgium, immigration was really easy.

The transit system in Belgium was very easy to use. They have plenty of employees by the ticket kiosks to help you buy tickets. I walked over to the train station which was located at the end of the airport – similar to the AirTran for JFK Airport in New York City – but prettier.

My hotel was right in the center of Brussels which very convenient to get to by train. I took the train for just a few stops – about 20/30 minutes until I arrived at my stop – Brussels Central Station. I stayed at the Sandton Hotel Brussels City Centre (it has changed names since 2017 and is now called Pillows City Hotel Brussels Centre). It’s a beautiful 4-star boutique hotel right in the center of the city. What I remember most from my stay was the amazing hospitality of the hotel staff. They were so professional and attentive. Remember in my last post when I mentioned that I arrived in the middle of the night? Well I had no issues checking in late as they had somebody at reception 24/7. Overnight, the entrance door is locked for safety so you would have to use your hotel key card to scan yourself in. As a solo female traveler, this feature along with a 24/7 staffed front desk, I definitely felt safe staying there. One night I couldn’t sleep due to jet lag, so I went downstairs to hang out in the lounge and read “Shoe Dog” by Phil Knight (I highly recommend reading this book if you’re a Nike fan or an aspiring entrepreneur). Below is a view from the street outside of my hotel which leads to Belgium’s national church, a 16th Century Gothic style cathedral called St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral.

During my first full day in Brussels all I spent a ton of time wandering around and exploring. First I took a train to another city called Ghent to handle some business (that never actually got handled but I did get answers). That was about a one hour ride each way from Brussels. But once I got back, I met up with a friend who showed me the busy nightlife areas where the clubs were, Delirium Cafe which is famous for having over 2,000 types of beer (I don’t care for beer so I can’t tell you how it was .. I’d probably still think they were all gross regardless lol), a hookah lounge called Imanza (which we did go to & I learned how to use Snapchat to figure out what song is playing), and then just wandering around the royal parks and gardens throughout the city into the wee hours of the morning. One thing about Brussels is that it’s beautiful at all hours of the day and night!

One of my favorite things to do when I visit a new country is learn about the regular day to day life of the average person. I like to learn about what salaries and rent prices are like, what the economy is like, what kind of beef people have with each other, and what people like to do for fun. You get the most honest answers from locals. I learned so much about Belgium, how they do business, what the cost of living is like (it’s not too cheap to live in the center of the city but you can have a nice life outside of the city with an average salary), and also some of the cultural norms there. One of which is that most people sit on the ground if they’re just hanging out outside – especially at the Grand Palace. The Grand Palace is a huge city square surrounded by historic buildings that date back to the 14th Century. But you get to just chill there and eat, talk, play music, and sometimes dance. The energy was amazing! Below are some photos from that night and many of me eating frites – because I love them! haha..

Next post will be about my second day of adventures with another local friend! Leave a comment if there’s anything specific you’d like to know about Brussels.

Stay tuned….

XOXO,

Sultana ❤

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