Thursday, May 21, 2009

Brussels: A little crazy and random

I arrived in Brussels and was greeted by a very small protest about education policy. They wanted 15 students maximum per class and for teachers to stay with the students to help them with their homework. In France they close classes that are less than 20 students.

I checked out the cathedral. Belgium still has a monarchy, and this is where their royals get married.

Then I went to the Grand'Place, where the weirdness began. But let's admire the architecture first, which is unlike any other that I've seen. The Grand'Place was destroyed by the armies of Louis XIV in 1695 and fully rebuilt by the guilds afterwards, competing to make the most beautiful buildings.

I couldn't get enough of this building, the Hotel de Ville, which escaped Louis and is the original from the 1400s. The sculptures were FANTASTIC, I can't even tell you how realistic and detailed and beautiful they were. You could spend an entire day just looking at the statues.

Then, as I was taking this picture:

I heard someone say "excuse me." I turn and there's guy there, and starts telling me, in heavily accented English, that he saw me taking pictures of all the buildings, that I look like a nice, serious girl, and he would like to be friends with me.

So I told him I wasn't looking for friends. That didn't work. He persisted. "No no, not like that, just as good friends, etc" Whatever, still not looking for friends. He then said to me "oh, your English is so good." Hey, thanks! What a compliment! I've only been speaking it my whole life. Then again, there are people like Bush who never master their native tongue, so yeah, I guess it's a pretty special talent to have. It turns out he is an engineer, originally from Nigeria, and he's working in Belgium for a few months. I had a really hard time shaking this guy, until he finally gave me an out after I told him I lived in Paris, and he said "oh, then you probably have to catch a train." Yes! Yes, that's it! I have a train, sorry, just taking some pictures and running to catch my train. But he still wants my number! So I gave him a fake number and he finally left me alone. But I felt really bad about it, because I understand how lonely it is when you're in a foreign country and you don't know anyone and you really just want some human contact. But on the other hand, he may have been an axe murderer. So I can't feel that bad for him.

The next day I went on a guided tour of the town; We went to the Atomium and saw EU buildings, and I met a couple of nice, also solo travellers with whom I palled around for the rest of the day.

Then I went back to the hostel and was waiting in the common room for a turn on the computer. There was a big group of anglophones sitting around talking. I assumed they were all on study abroad together or something. One of them invited me to come sit with them, so I did, and it turned out they didn't really know each other and were just assembling a random group of people to go out with. They were all past college and travelling (one couple who was on their honeymoon!) and had good travel trips and experiences to share. We ended up going out to a couple of bars, wandering around the streets together very late at night, eating delicious waffles at about 1:30 AM, and getting some nice pictures of the Grand'Place at night.

We all reassembled in the common room the next morning to take advantage of the free coffee machine and say goodbye before heading off to home or more travels. I don't think I can do justice to how crazy and random the evening was here, but it was a fun experience, one that I've never had before and can't imagine will happen again!


parlez-vous-kiwi said...

I had that exact problem (being unable to shake a very persistent guy) but for me, it was an Italian policeman. He told me he would teach me Italian in 2 nights... ugh!

au soleil levant said...

It's so weird.... why can't they just understand 'no' and go on their merry way? I suppose it's because they can't possibly imagine that we wouldn't jump out of our pants for a chance to be with them!