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.
[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]Want a day or weekend trip to travel around outside the country? While The Netherlands has some amazing places that some of us may not have visited before, itâ€™s always fun to go on spontaneous trips to neighboring or nearby countries to indulge in a different atmosphere. Whatâ€™s even greater is that because some of the places are considerably near, you can even go during the day and be back home at night! So, what are these day or weekend getaways? Well we here at ISR have 5 student-favorite cities for you:
It takes approximately an hour by train to reach Antwerp from Rotterdam. Thatâ€™s right! An hour. Antwerp offers all kinds of attractions from the famous Cathedral of Our Lady to the Antwerp Zoo located next to the Central Station. You can also head on over to the Grote Markt and marvel over the Renaissance ambiance of the square and observe the impressive tower of the Cathedral looming from behind the buildings. So if you havenâ€™t, dedicate a day to visit Antwerp and before you know it youâ€™re back home on the same day with a check on your travel list.
The lovely, picturesque City of Light is accessible by train, bus and flight, but most of us take the train or bus. The train can be costly (especially if you buy a ticket near to your travel date), however it only takes around 2.5-4 hours and that is still much faster than the bus. If you take the FlixBus, it should cost you approximately 50 euros for a two-way trip. It seems that each of us have our own agendas for Paris. May it be for the architecture that embody grandeur and opulence, the culinary retreat, the high-end fashion experience or just for the eclectic and lively ambiance that defines the city. Whatever it is, Paris is definitely not to be missed especially when it is within proximity.
You can reach Cologne by train from Rotterdam and it takes approximately 3 to 4 hours depending on which route or train you take. Once there, visit the Cologne Cathedral that looks stunning at night with lights illuminating its walls. You can also visit the museums as well as the famous Christmas market there at the end of the year. The city is also beautiful with its gothic churches and historical structures. So make sure that you make time for this amazing city.
Brussels hosts one of the three European Parliament centers. Furthermore, this magnificent city is also where you can find the Atomium. In the heart of Brussels, you can find the Grand Place or Grote Markt and this square is nothing short of magnificent. The Town Hall forms a part of the perimeter of the square which is lined with other buildings that are remarkable on their own. You will spot Belgian chocolatiers in almost every corner from Godiva to Pierre Marcolini. So with amazing architecture, chocolates and of course beer and waffles, Brussels is definitely a must-visit.
A lot of people travel to London in the weekends. You can do this by flight or train. Take a stroll by the Thames River, watch Changing the Guard at Buckingham Palace, see the skyline from the London Eye â€“ this is just a very short list of what you can do in London on your weekend. Did we mention tea and crumpets? For non-EEA students, depending on your nationality, you might need a visa to visit but after all the paperwork, we guarantee that London will be worthwhile.
So there you have it, these are our top 5 student-favorite cities you can visit over the weekend from Rotterdam. Just to give you a small tip, NS International and FlixBus have an app you can download on your phone in case youâ€™re an avid traveler or you want quick and easy seat reservations. So where are you off to next?
[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]I am currently writing this blog post across the Atlantic Ocean in the comfort of my bed to give you something to be excited for during this festive time. Are you staying in the Netherlands for the holidays? Not being able to go back home can be a bit bittersweet during this time, but if it makes you feel better, youâ€™re not the only one! If some of your friends may not be returning home or you have Dutch friends in nearby cities, ring them up and tell them to put on their Christmas socks because there are so many markets and fairs to make you feel the holiday spirit enough to not miss home!
In order of proximity to Rotterdam, I have put together a list just for you and your friends (or family!) if youâ€™re in the neighborhood!
Dordrecht Christmas Market
What: This market is the largest Christmas market held in the Netherlands with over hundreds of stalls spread across the historical center. You can find traditional holidays treats along the entire route, which is bound to get you into the Christmas spirit!
Where: Inner city and harbor of Dordrecht
When: December 17, from 10.00 till 21.00 – December 18, from 11.00 till 18.00
What: Set in a city known for its vast shopping center, you will not have to go far along this street to feel the great festive ambience. Sip on some warm glÃ¼hwein and make your way down this street of Christmas stalls and performances.
Where: Lange Voorhout
When: December 17 until December 23, from 12.00 till 21.00
What: This market stands out from the others by being the only floating market in the Netherlands. Iâ€™m sure you will be able to find something to eat, drink, or buy from the variety of stalls to get yourself into a Christmas-y mood. Also, feel free to make your way to the ice rink with your friends next to the market to feel slightly better about having eaten all those holiday sweets!
Where: Nieuwe Rijn
When: December 16 until December 28, from 12.00 till 21.00 (with a few exceptions, check link below)
What: This is the holiday edition of the Pure Market which is held in different locations every time around Amsterdam. It embodies organic and sustainable products; so, if youâ€™re an advocate for an organic lifestyle, this is definitely a Christmas market you should visit this weekend!
Yashita here! I would just like to wish you the happiest and merriest of holidays this season, regardless if youâ€™re with family or friends. Itâ€™s a jolly season, so get out there and make some new memories to end this year with a bang!
[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]Calling all those who love to seek new cool spots and escape the throngs of tourists in Amsterdam! Hereâ€™s a selection of some intriguing spots that most of the general public donâ€™t know about one of the worldâ€™s most picturesque cities! So hop on that train and go on a scavenger hunt in the Venice of the North!
1) The Smallest House in Amsterdam
Thatâ€™s right! This house is located in Oude Hoogstraat 22 and is just a tad bit more than 2 meters wide. A pretty tight fit but try and see how this â€œminiâ€ building is sandwiched between two much larger ones.
2) Picasso in the Park
In the southern part of the Vondelpark, lies a sculpture that perhaps most wouldnâ€™t know of its significance. Itâ€™s sculpted by Picasso himself and is known as â€œThe Birdâ€. So if you ever take a stroll around the Vondelpark, make sure to find this hidden gem!
3) Panorama of Amsterdam
Another cool find in Amsterdam? Blue Amsterdam. Blue Amsterdam is a restaurant offering arguably the best 360-panoramic view of the city. You can find it atop of the Kalvertoren shopping complex. So, want stunning views and great food? Then head on over here!
[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]4) The Bench from the Fault in our Stars
This special bench was stolen after the movie was shown, but thankfully it has been returned for everyone to see the meaningful spot that Hazel and Gus were at. The bench has numerous locks latched onto it with the scribbling of names of couples and quotes from the movie. You can find this bench on Leidsegracht 6HS.
5) The Bar and the Horse
In Amsterdam, lies the oldest riding school within the Netherlands. Not many people however, know that upstairs of De Hollandsche Manege, you can have coffee in the 19th century posh ambiance and watch the riding classes proceed.
If you ever want to find more interesting and detailed information about Amsterdam, anywhere ranging from directions to cool pubs or bars, make sure to visit http://www.iamsterdam.com/en/. They have comprehensive guides on how to live and enjoy Amsterdam.
So there you have it! Next time when you find yourself in Amsterdam, after taking a stroll by the canals and indulging yourself in the vibrant atmosphere, check out some of these places and have fun seeking spots where most wouldnâ€™t conventionally go to.
Hey everyone! So itâ€™s the holiday season! If youâ€™re staying somewhere colder, then donâ€™t forget to check out the Christmas markets! For those who are traveling to somewhere warmer, enjoy the sun! Happy Holidays from us at ISR – your international family.