On Friday our class had a field trip to Brussels in Belgium! Brussels felt like a “larger” town then Maastricht. At first I felt overwhelmed seeing military police walking around with larger guns. I never saw military police forced in a public setting. I was not sure if I should feel safe or scared. After driving through town we finally arrived at the European Union Parliament building for a tour. I was amazed! I believe we tend to concentrate on the negative aspects of the world so I was amazed that over 751 members who speak 24 different languages come together as a whole and discuss, plan, contain order, and administrate protection, laws, and regulate the countries. Within the European Union there has not been a war within the members of the union since World War II. One negative aspect of the European Union is the language barrier. Our tour guide noted as a joke that if one member is speaking and telling a joke that the interpreter does not know how to translate they will tell their member when to laugh at the joke. Although we can laugh at this example, I cannot imagine how many mistakes are made during these meetings and the loss of value with words spoken that will be missed through translation.
The next part of our day was participating in a walking tour throughout Brussels and the highlight of the tour was during our walking tour and seeing the “peeing man” statue. I was expecting to see a bigger presence and for the statue to be in the center of the city, but the statue was extremely small and was located down an alley in a corner of a building. The next picture below you will see a building. It used to operate like New York’s Wall Street, but now the plans are to have the building serve as a beer temple.
After Brussels I took a train to Bruges! We had to ask a man when to get off because we did not know how to read or communicate in French or Flemish Dutch. He was kind enough to let us know when to get off on our connecting train and which platform to go to next to catch the next train. After arriving in Bruges we had walking and bus directions to our hotel, but we did not realize how open Bruges was going to be. There were no street signs at the train station so we were not sure which direction to go. We started to walk and saw a bus stop and were lucky enough to gain WIFI access.
We were able to connect to google maps, which enabled us to find our hotel. The walk was around 30 minutes long, but felt much longer due to wondering if we were going in the right direction. Once we gained access to our hotel room at Hotel Europ we decided to stay in for the night. The hotel room was not in the worst condition, but we only had one electric outlet and the light bulbs were burnt out. However, the hotel appeared to be clean and was centrally located. The breakfast was also delicious and the view from our room was absolutely perfect because it overlooked a canal.
Our first day in Bruges was fantastic. We saw two weddings, windmills, took a canal tour, went to the 2be beer wall that stored over 1,000 beers, toured an art gallery, went shopping, and finished our night with a carriage ride.
2be beer wall
Swans were everywhere! It was magical. We also saw two swan nests!
Part of the contemporary art we viewed
During our canal tour the tour guide noted that we were lucky to see this dog relaxing by the window.
Our horse who gave us our tour of the city
After our relaxing and fun time in Bruges it was time to go back home to Maastricht….well that was the plan, but instead we were trapped in the train station due to none of our credit cards working at the train station and no one working at the train station’s information center. These machines do not take cash either. With no WIFI and limited resources we started to ask people to buy our tickets for us and tell them that we would pay them immediately. After being turned down three times finally a nice United Kingdom person bought our tickets for us with their Europe credit card. We were so thankful! We paid them back and sprinted for our train. We made it on the train and caught our next train back to Maastricht!
My next adventure was to Aachen, Germany! Due to it being a holiday and a Sunday all shops were closed, but I had a delicious traditional German meal and toured the town hall! The seats that are located in the meeting room are worth over 2,000 euro each. I learned this from a local and was relieved at the same time I could not sit on a chair that was worth that much!
Due to the holiday we had an extra day off so I decided to check out Eindhoven in the Netherlands! I did not explore too much due to limited time, but I took a quick tour of the city and my next weekend’s plans are to return to Eindhoven for a music festival that will have the world’s top DJs traveling by helicopter from Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Eindhoven! Needless to say I am excited and cannot wait to share next weekend’s adventure with you!
Football (soccer) dome
Where next weekend’s music festival will be held!
As always it is like a fairy tale returning back to Maastricht!
Thank you for reading,