My Brussels and Paris trip surely tested my endurance; 3 nights on a bus, 2 nights in an apartment, 2 days in Brussels & 2 days in Paris. Needless to say, it was a long trip, but 100% worth it!
Brussels was a pleasant surprise for me. Everyone kept saying that I had to go there, but I did not know why…well until I went! Our night bus arrived in Brussels at 5:45 am. What is open at 5:45 am in Brussels you may ask? I can confidently tell you nothing is open except for the central train station. We sought refuge in the station until it was light outside and we could find our apartment for the night. Brussels architecture and color scheme all seemed to match. It was a very tidy and neat city. There were many old building that Karen and I would take pictures of because they “looked important!” Beyond that, we saw the Cathedral, Atomium, the Basilica of the Sacred Heart and so much more. The best part of Brussels was the food, and their emphasis on the best food group- dessert! Waffles piled high with fruit and cream, gelato, ice cream, macaroons, hot chocolate, Belgium chocolate! I had no shame in trying it all!
After 2 days in Brussels, Karen and I took a bus that departed at 2:00 am and got into Paris at 5:40 am. Needless to say, it was more of a nap than a night sleep, but we managed. Oh the joys of a student budget! We ran into the same problem as we did in Brussels being that there was nothing to do at 6 am. We made our way to the Notre Dame Cathedral in hopes to go to an early mass there. Unfortunately they would not let us into mass due to our luggage (come on, can’t a nomadic traveler come and pray?!?), but on the plus side, we did get to see the church at sunrise. Next our day lead into a marathon of Paris must-sees. Lock Bridge may have been my favorite. What a beautiful symbol of love to place a lock on a bridge in Paris. Each lock supported fellow locks in a representation of love. Karen and I joked about the people who come to Paris, place a lock on lock bridge and then break up…do they have to come back and break the lock off?! However, I couldn’t help but think about my future husband up on that bridge. I don’t know who he is yet, but I hope he is doing well and praying and thinking about me too. Hopefully one day (sooner than later!), we will return to Paris and add to Lock Bridge. We also saw the Louvre, Arc De Triumph and the Eiffel Tower. All were magnificent. My mom and I were joking about my “8th grade multi-genre project” where we had to pick a topic and use different forms of writing about the topic. I picked Paris (mostly because I didn’t know what to pick) and learned a lot about the different iconic sights. Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined myself, as a college student, traveling to Paris and actually seeing all those things I learned about!
I think my favorite part of this trip though were the people we encountered along the way:
– The Megabus driver who was chatting with us on our way to Paris
– The guys from Liverpool who offered to buy us drinks in a bar in Brussels despite the fact Karen and I had all our luggage and were napping before our 2 am bus ride
– The homeless women who was freshening up with us in the train station bathroom in Brussels
– The guy who passed out on the subway in Paris
– The Australian Ice Cream shop worker
All these people affected my trip and my outlook on life. And that is probably one of the most important lessons while traveling.