After the exam period, I felt like I needed a change of scenery, a break before starting the next block of classes, and that’s how I found myself in Brussels a couple weeks ago! The Belgian capital is just a hop away from Rotterdam, making it a perfect destination for a day trip. I paidÂ â‚¬25, hoped on a train, and in slightly more than one hour I reached my destination .
If you happen to be planning a day trip to Brussels, here are some tips on how to spend your day!
Places to visit in Brussels
The Belgian capital is a fairly compact city, you can get to see the main touristic sites fairly quickly and should have enough time to stuff yourself with waffles, chocolate, and beer! Brussels has a fantastic metro system, but if you are just visiting for a day, you definitely wonâ€™t need it as the city is very easy to see on foot
The Grande Place
First, head to the Grande Place, it’s the centre of Brussels and a place to start your day off. The square is home to the City Hall and gothic-styled King’s house (as well as many chocolate shops, yum!).Â By day or by night, the buildings covered in gold gilt are absolutely beautiful and you can see why tourists flock to explore and take pictures. Grab a beer and just enjoy the scenery.
Often voted as one of the most disappointing tourist attractions in the world, The Manneken PisÂ is a 61cm high statue ofâ€¦a little boy pissing. “Is that it?” is a sentence you’ll often hear from the multitude of tourist around there. Still, the many waffle shops in the neighboring streets make it worth it to go see the iconic statue.
Cathedral of St. Michael
The beautiful gothic Cathedral is the national church of Belgium and it is here that royal weddings and funerals take place. Though dating from the 12th century, the church was only granted cathedral status in 1962.You can visit inside for free.
Royal Palace of Brussels
Even though it is named “palace”, this gorgeous building is not actually used as aÂ royal residence. In fact, the royal family of Belgian lives in the Royal Palace of Laeken on the outskirts of Brussels. Still, it’s worth going inside before heading to the beautiful Brussels Park for a stroll next door.
This is a shopping arcade in the centre of Brussels, not too far from the Grande Place. Split into two major sections, each more than 100m in length, it is the home to a multitude of small shops selling everything – chocolate, designer clothing, jewellery, and many more. If not for shopping, just go there for the scenery, it’s gorgeous!
Food and Drinks
After a whole day of walking, you deserve to enjoy the local food and drinks without restriction (or almost?). Forget the calories and indulge yourself for a day!
Waffles:Â One cannot come to Brussels without at least one waffle. You can choose to add a multitude of ingredients like fruits, Nutella, caramel and so on, or simply eat it nature.
Mussel & Fries:Â a classic Belgian dish that you will find everywhere around the city. Don’t miss it, but try to avoid eating in touristic streets as the price can be excessively high!
Chocolate:Â Belgium is known for itâ€™s Chocolatiers and you just cannot leave Brussels without sampling some of its chocolate and buying some to bring back home! Pierre Marcolini & Godiva are the best in terms of quality in my opinion.
Beers: Belgium is a paradise for beer lovers, and you simply cannot leave Brussels without sampling a few (many?) decent beers. For that, head to the Delirium near the Grande Place – it offers more than 3000 sorts of beers and you’re sure to find one to your tastes!
Studying abroad is an amazing adventure – you get to meet new people and make new friends, discover a new culture, see new places, and gain new experiences. If youâ€™re setting off to study abroad in the near future, youâ€™re probably feeling very excited. But if youâ€™re leaving behind your girlfriend/boyfriend, then it might be a bit daunting, as we all know long distance relationships are renowned for being tough. But fear not, thereâ€™s no reason why they canâ€™t work, and we thought weâ€™d give you some tips on how to keep the romance as strong as ever
1. Be trustful and trustworthy
Trust is pretty important whether youâ€™re in a long distance relationship or not, but if youâ€™re apart for 6 months or more, it is even more essential. The key is to be honest with each other and not hide anything. Try to avoid miscommunicating with each other and be careful not to become jealous because of something (probably innocent) that you saw on social media. Both of you are highly unlikely to run off with someone new if the commitment is there in your relationship.
2. Romantic gestures
It might not be possible for you to physically be there to take your loved one on a romantic date, but you can still do little things to show how much they mean to you and that you are not forgetting them. Send small gifts to your partner every now and then to let them know how important they are, despite the distance. A letter, a small bracelet, something you noticed strolling around the markets, some pictures of your new life – any small gift would make your better half feel really happy.
Even if you have decided to spend year studying abroad, it doesnâ€™t mean that you canâ€™t see your partner one this entire time. There are planes, trains and many other ways that can let you meet whenever you want. Try to go home or ask them to visit you. You can also meet halfway, or travel together.
4. Communicate and share your activities
Technology has come a long way these days, and if youâ€™re both able to, itâ€™s definitely good to catch up with each other via video calls on Skype. Update each other on what youâ€™ve been up to, and listen as your partner shares any gossip from back home. You can also find creative ways to feel connected, for instance this couple created an Instagram project called Half&Half that juxtaposes photos from their everyday lives â€” to images of themselves to architecture to food to cars Check it here:
Even though your relationship is important, you decided to study abroad for 6 months so you might as well make the best out of it. It will be one of the best experiences of your life, and that way youâ€™ll have more interesting stories to look forward to telling your loved one the next time you speak.
As you have probably come to realize, The Netherlands is a country that cannot make up its mind when it comes to the weather. The day could begin with the sun shining and a light breeze that makes your morning ride to uni pleasant and bearable. Then next thing you know, the sky has turned grey and the tiny rain droplets, you though would quickly pass, have turned into a light rainfall and then a full-on rainstorm. Though itâ€™s unpredictability is annoying to say the least, weâ€™ve just got to accept this country the way that it is and not let it discourage us. We must fight the rain and the only way to do so is to constantly be prepared!
Here are 5 tips to survive rainy Holland:Â
1. Always have an umbrella in your bag
As simple as it sounds, many of us often forget to bring our trusty umbrellas. In case you got tricked by the clear skies or you forgot to wear a rain jacket one day, a foldable umbrella in your bag will be a life saver. By always having an umbrella you will always prepared for the unpredictable weather! If you do happen to have a rain jacket because you started doubting the weather after being tricked multiple times, congrats, you are 5 steps ahead of most us. However, rain jacket + umbrella = extra protection, so itâ€™s not a loss!
2. Learn to bike with an umbrellaÂ
Continuing with the umbrella tip, biking with an umbrella in one hand whilst steering your bike with the other, is the ultimate Dutch skill everyone needs to learn asap. It is a skill so valuable, it should probably be on your CV! If you have ever wondered how the Dutch look so dry and composed as they climb the stairs of Polak, whilst your drenched from head to toe, this is probably how they do it.
If the thought of biking in the pouring rain makes you want to cry, using the 9292 app will instantly brighten your mood! 9292 is a public transportation app which gives information of what form of transportation to take and at what time. By using it you can check which public transports you can use to get where you need to be. Making sure your bike is securely locked in a safe place, you can happily walk to the nearest tram/metro/ bus stop and avoid being soaked by the rain. If you do take public transport on the regular, using the 9292 app to check if the weather conditions have affected the tram times, will be a major time saver and it will help you from unnecessarily waiting in the rainy cold.
4. Use the rain as motivation to get things done
Instead of having to YouTube â€œrainy moodâ€™, use the live sound of rain pouring as background noise / music to help you focus on the assignments or reading youâ€™ve been leaving to the last minute ;).
5. Hot bath & comfort food
Lastly, if you tried it all and still managed to arrive home soaking wet, it is okay, just accept your fate. Get rid of all your wet clothes, slip into something warm and comfy and binge eat comfort food as a way to forget the traumatizing experience that is biking in Dutch rainstorms. If you need help deciding what to eat, why not read our last blog post on 5 Dutch foods to try!
Here were 5 tips to survive rainy Holland. Got suggestions? Leave them down below!