Greetings to all from Brussels! I hope this post finds everyone well.
Today was my first day in Brussels. I arrived at the airport after a difficult night on the plane. I think I slept for maybe four or five hours at the most, but I kept waking up because of the lights from the tv screens and because I kept getting cricks in my neck (even with my little pillow). While we were descending, I was able to look over (I had an aisle seat and not the bulkhead like I had hoped) and see the atomium, which was all lit up. The atomium was built for the one of the worlds fairs and is meant to look like a giant atom, hence the name. This was definitely exciting because I had read about this in my travel book on Brussels. Anyways, I disembarked and went through customs. I met Russell, one of the guys from my trip who was arriving around the same time at baggage claim and we took a cab to the apartments where we are staying in Brussels. On our way into town, we passed a lot of the EU buildings, which was pretty cool. Most of them were fairly nondescript, but it was just neat to see where all the EU business takes place.
We arrived at the apartments, which are very nice, but not quite as nice as the ones on the website (if I showed any of you). It turns out I am in one of the nicer apartments of the lot, but I have the smallest bedroom. My roommate won't be here for another week though because she is doing another study abroad program in Berlin so I have the room to myself for a while. Dr. Kreppel, our adviser, gave us fifteen minutes to wash our faces, brush our teeth, etc. Then, we left for what she called the "Bataan Death March." Basically this consisted of her trying to show us around our area of the city and trying to keep us from falling asleep to prevent jet lag. It was grueling and I was tired, but it was really neat just being in a new city. Brussels reminds me of Paris to some extent, but is not quite as uniform and proper looking.
We went down the Chaussee d'Ixelles, a shopping street near our apartments and then we rode the metro into the center of the city where we went to the Grand Place, which is the oldest square in Europe which is still intact after both world wars. The Place was all set up for the Jazz Festival which they hold in Brussels every year around this time. They have different stages set up all around the city where you can go and hear jazz music. We sat down and listened for a while, but then we continued our march. We went to another shopping district, where Dr. Kreppel left us to find our own way back to our apartments. We didn't have any trouble doing this. We just hopped on a bus and were there in no time.
Then we rested for a few hours. Later, Dr. Kreppel took some of us to one of the larger grocery stores in the area where we stocked up on everything from soap and laundry detergent to pasta to cook for meals. It was quite an interesting experience since everything here is a little different and all the packages were in two or three different languages (French, Flemish, and sometimes English). We returned with our groceries and we all took showers because we all felt disgusting from the plane ride and walk around the city. Afterwards, I fixed myself a small sandwich and we headed out. We went to a local cafe, which was a lot of fun. Unfortunately, by the time we were finished there, it had started raining and we were not able to go to the Jazz Festival events which were close to us in the Place de Ferdinand du Cocq so we just went home.
And now, I must close and catch up on some much needed sleep. Tomorrow promises to be interesting with a 9:30 meeting for a flea market out at Gare du Midi.
Love to all,