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WT09 your two favourite gap-yearers make their way around the world armed only with a sense of adventure and a photocopied lonely planet guide to the mekong. wish us luck!

iona main eats a lot of waffles and drinks a lot of beer

BELGIUM | Saturday, 14 November 2009 | Views [1297]

hello waffles

hello waffles

and so, at last count, i was lurking around a slightly scruffy parisian hostel when a friendly danish guy offered me a lift to brussels. nice. love danish people.

as countless backpackers have discovered, free transport in europe (and probably anywhere) is basically non-existent unless you are in the back of a police car or have missed your bus/train/ferry stop, so the prospect of a free ride to a foreign country was one i gratefully accepted.

and, let's be honest, good-looking scandanavians are basically the icing on the cake.

the trip that would apparently take '2 or 3 hours' saw us pull up outside our brussels hostel at 11.50pm, almost 7 hours since we left our digs in paris (although to be fair that included a lot of messing around with the europcar people who seemed to speak neither french nor english, and definitely no danish). But, it quickly became clear (after a night's sleep in a room with a guy who snored like a bear and smelt like feet who made a hasty departure the following day, presumably out of embarrassment) that brussels was worth the effort, if not for the nice-but-not-that-exciting town centre then at least for the vast number of shops selling waffles, beer and chocolate, or a combination of the three.

in short, my kind of city.

two days in brussels was basically enough- it's really nice but there's not heaps to do, save perhaps for the tintin museum and the breweries (i will be honest and say that in my first day in belgium, i drank more beer than i had in my entire life up to that point) and after 48 hours of eating exclusively the above (plus a serve of hot chips with mayo) i was starting to think a new town and some nutritious food might be an idea.

i farewelled denmark (i believe i am one of a select few who can say they learnt some danish in belgium) and got on a train to bruges, an often-mocked town that features in a movie everybody but me seems to have seen, and quickly discovered for myself that despite the countless horse-drawn carriages and wooden canal boats carting american tourists around, it's actually a really cute little town.

my first stop was the chocolate museum, arguably the best 5 euro i have ever spent (it's up there with the donkey ride in santorini) if only for the chocolate statue of barack obama. nice.

i also managed to get hopelessly lost in the (very small) town, despite having a map, and finally admitted that maybe my sense of direction isn't quite as good as i have always claimed. but, in the process, i saw a vial of something claiming to be the blood of jesus (pretty cool if it's true but probably just a great revenue-raiser for an unremarkable little church) and ate an apple, which represented my attempted return to healthy eating.

seriously, if you can make it through belgium without succumbing to the delicious unhealthiness of the food, then you are not only a man of steel but you also can't have had any fun.

a very early wake-up and a bone-shatteringly expensive train ticket later (apparently second class was booked out, tchuh) i rolled back into paris's gare du nord with the satisfaction of knowing i had spent my week well.

belgium may indeed be the butt of all jokes, have it's only claim to fame being that it's the home of tintin, and the people may speak reeeeeally sloooowly, but it is also the home to some hilarious chocolate vendors, some incredible food and a lot of very, very good beer. not that i would know, parents, grandparents and other advocates of responsible drinking.

xoxo iona

Tags: barack obama, chocolate museum, denmark, free transport

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