Is there any more civilized way on earth to travel than by Eurostar? Last Saturday morning, Allan and I rolled out of bed and after a brisk ten minute walk we had reached the Eurostar check-in hall. Five minutes after that, we were standing in line for a coffee after having scanned our tickets for entry, gone through security (where our backpacks got a quick x-ray but laptops stayed in and coats and shoes stayed on), and had our passports stamped. Thirty minutes after that we were called to board our train and joined the other calm travellers in riding up an escalator straight to our train platform and took our seats (with a noticeable lack of stress/shoving/frantic stowing of bags/climbing over laps of strangers); ten minutes after that we rolled out of the platform at the promised 07:57h sharp and two hours after that (a surprisingly smooth and quiet ride – albeit not very scenic though it was neat to think that we were passing under the English Channel) we pulled into Brussels where we were met with bear hugs by Kerwin.
What to say about Kerwin? Kerwin and I have been friends a long time and though we live in different countries currently, is is the closest geographically we’ve lived in years. When I told Kerwin we were coming to Brussels, where he is studying currently, he insisted that we stay at his home. Kerwin is smart, thoughtful, socially conscious, compassionate, and carries the burdens of the world probably a little more than he ought to. He is also wild, funny, crazy, and loves to party. Kerwin is good people.
We spent the day in Brussels with Kerwin giving us an insider’s perspective. It’s an unassuming city but some of the architecture is the most ornate and exquisite I’ve seen in Europe. All three of us are giant nerds so we spent a large chunk of the day visiting the Parlamentarium, European Parliament’s visitor’s centre.
It was already pretty dark out when we emerged from the Parlamentarium so we wandered back near the main square to grab a dinner of mussels and fries, and then ate Belgian waffles on the street for dessert.
We then met up with Kerwin’s friends at an enormous three-level bar called Delirium where the drink menu is the size and style of an Ikea catalogue detailing the almost 2500 beers they serve. We capped off the night by taking the train to Kerwin’s town Leuven and buying a massive paper cone of fresh fries from a local friture before crashing for the night.
On Sunday Allan and I embarrassed ourselves by sleeping in until 11:30 a.m. (oops) and hung out with Kerwin’s housemates in the early afternoon. We then took a walk through Kerwin’s charming, medieval walled town and admired the green space and mostly empty squares. On our way home we grabbed some groceries to make fajitas for Kerwin’s housemates.
We hit the hay early that night so that we could catch our train the next morning back to London. By 9:45 a.m. Monday we were back in our flat preparing ourselves for class later that day and the busy week ahead. We were happy to have had a weekend away, but one that was so different from the others because the travel was stress-free and we were visiting the home of a friend. Definitely one of the best weekend getaways so far.