Leaving Paris after just 4 days I felt like there was so much left unseen, but the itch to see Europe was tugging at me and a new friend was waiting to see me in Belgium. Overall though Paris turned into a great first stop off for my travels. The people were great, the hostel better than expected and most of all I had taken the leap and not regretted it.
I’ll touch more on train travel in a separate post but best advice I can say is get there early to ensure there are no problems and if you need to reserve a seat make sure you do it.
I had a short trip up to Brussels from Paris, just 1.5 hours which is far shorter than the one I have planned from Amsterdam to Berlin. This gave me my first look at the European countryside and while I didn’t get to see a great deal I was blown away with how green everything is. Poor Australia has suffered through years of drought so to see this much green grass is rather weird.
Arriving in Brussels and finding Elke was rather simple as long as you ignore the fact I walked straight past her once without even realizing it. Dropping my belongings at her house for safe keeping we jumped train and headed for Gent.
The first thing I noticed when leaving the station (I wish I had a photo of it) was the sheer number of bicycles that were gathered outside the train station. I mean I know getting around on a bike is much more common in Europe but never did I expect to see so many in just one spot. I couldn’t even guess how many where there to be honest, you just have to imagine a large open area full of bikes.
Over the next few hours we wandered the streets, stopping off for a beer or two (I had a Trappist Achel Blonde, you must try it) and met up with some of Elke’s friends. While in Gent I also got to sample a very delicious chocolate brownie and how yum it was. In just a few short hours of being in Belgium I had sampled both Belgium’s Beer and Chocolate, good day huh.
Then it was back to Brussels for a feed of ribs at a great little restaurant. Being all I’d eating in Paris was baguettes and the like a restaurant meal with red meat was just what my body was craving. What a meal it was, when they landed the massive plate of ribs on my table I didn’t know where to start, they were hanging off both sides of the plate.
Once dinner had passed it was time to part ways. I collected my belongings from Elke’s house and set off to find my hostel in town. Only getting lost once as the station I stopped at had multiple exits and like usual I climbed out of the wrong one.
Checking into the hostel and walking into my cramped little room with 3 older guys all talking amongst themselves was a little daunting, worse still my greetings appeared to have fallen on deaf ears. With nowhere to store my backpack but on the floor of the little room, I grabbed my messenger bag that held all things important and expensive and climbed into bed for the night.