A Travellerspoint blog

Au Revior Bruxelles!

Five weeks, and over 35 written pages later, I am not about to say goodbye to this rediculous city. It seems so long ago that I got here with a group of 18 completely unique people who I would have never ever expected to have made such amazing memories with. It actually baffles me how cohesive our group was. Despite an age range from 20-27 and having people from all different places, we were all really close, and apparently were one of the most "social" groups in the programs history. I love thinking about how on the last night, all of us were able to go out together, scream our lungs out at a kareoke bar, celebrate our papers being completed, and have a good time. That type of group dynamic is unique, and looking back, I really am lucky to have been apart of such an amazing experience.
There are still so many things about Belgium that I will really never understand... this country continues to confuse the heck out me, and sometimes I wonder how they get by here. There is a charm to it though, and I will miss that. However, I am SO ready to go to Italy and visit my family - especially after the nightmare that I have had in my efforts to get to the airport today. (Constant struggles). Au revior belgique, it was great to meet you :)

Posted by lmaitalia 03:44 Comments (0)

When in amsterdam...

First, let me start off by saying that hands down Amsterdam is one of my favorite cities that I have been to thus far in terms of culture/atmosphere. It is so incredibly unique architecturally, the people are all beautiful, and of course it is incredibly liberal. We happened to go the weekend of the Gay Pride Festival, which meant that on saturday literally the entire city was raging their asses off in canals, rooftops, public squares, etc. I have never seen anything like it before and it was hands down one of the most amazing experiences of my life.
Aside from aimlessly walking among the canals, visiting the flower market, and sampling what seemed like thousands of different flavored dutch cheeses, I made it to the Anne Frank House, which was truly an experience. It was my second time visiting the house (I was very young last time I was there), but it still had the same effect - truly makes me appreciate my life and everything around me. Afterwards we enjoyed the atmosphere surrounding the canal parade, danced around with vibrantly dressed queens, and enjoyed life. There is no better way to describe it besides pure bliss.
The nightlife in Amsterdam was equally crazy. There was a giant rave in the middle of Rembrant Square for the festival, so you all know where I was :) Afterwards we checked out an underground club with some German DJ playing - it was your typical euro-underground trance club, nothing super memorable about the club or dj but definitely glad I went in. Overall though, this weekend was more than I could have imagined.
It is so weird to think that this is my last week in Brussels, and that I leave for Italy on Saturday. With all the paper writing though, I am ready to get out of here, go to Viterbo and just sit on the fountain by porta fiorentina people watching.

Posted by lmaitalia 07:00 Archived in Netherlands Tagged amsterdam Comments (0)

"I can see england from here"

Although things have been extremely stressful academically (10 page paper, 25 page paper, etc. etc.) I have managed to have some fun. Last week during our one day of not having class, myself, 8 of my peers, and my professor took a day trip to Knokke - the St. Tropez of Belgium. Thats right, we went to the beach. Our day started a little shaky as our already overcrowded train broke down, forcing all of us to reloacate onto a smaller commuter train. Luckily, there is apparently a rule that if the train is overcrowded you can sit in first class even if you dont have a ticket, so I was one of the lucky ones who found a seat there. Hello train air conditioning :) Knokke was amazing. It was about 85 degrees and sunny, and the view was breathtaking. From the beach you could see England across the channel, and only 2km up the boardwalk was the Belgium-Netherlands border. Our day consisted of mainly playing in the water and improving our tans, and I was able to bond with my professor which I enjoyed (hello 4.0.. kidding..) We ended our day with some AMAZING gelato too, I got amaretto flavored and it was super delicious! I am not sure if it was the weather, the atmosphere, or both, but definitely one of the highlights of my trip overall.
Friday night about 10 of us ended up going to the Belgian version of a sports bar - aka taps on the table, tvs all over the place, etc. - to watch the opening ceremony of the olympics. It was the most incredible moment when the Belgian Olympic Team walked out and the entire bar - including us - erupted in a wild frenzy of shouting. Everyone was dancing and screaming and it was so cool to watch. Afterwards, myself and 3 of the guys ended up going dancing and having a blast. It was a really good night.
I feel like I haven't had a lot of time to do much because of my papers, which is sad. But with the nice weather I have spent most of my free time sitting in the park reading or walking around with my photographer friend jon as he takes pictures. This weekend, our entire group (minus two people) are traveling to Amsterdam together and splitting two apartments next to each other. It should be a crazy time.

Posted by lmaitalia 09:55 Comments (0)

In Bruges

sunny 25 °C

So today I went on a day trip to Bruges - it was truly a fairytale town. Although extremely touristy, it was a gorgeous mix of venice and amsterdam and was definitely worth the trip.
Unlike Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson in 'In Bruges', my trip was much less depressing (I did however make it a point to see the hotel where they stayed in and the other main sites where they filmed it). The weather was a perfect sunny and 75 degrees - no clouds anywhere. We arrived in Bruges and began "getting lost" in the windy streets, going down alleys, and coming aross randomly dispersed grassy stretches. Finally, we found the main city center which was absolutely stunning. The canals gave off a romantic vibe, but combined with the dutch brick architecture from the 16/1700's, it was positively unique as well. We ended up taking a boat tour, which I assumed would be just a good place to take pictures. Our guide, however, was incredibly insightful and I actually learned a good amount about the architecture and the town.
Afterwards, we resumed walking around and perusing the numerous shops around the town. Since it was a sunday, a lot of the fashion stores were closed (thank god), so we were limited to the local beer sellers and chocolate shops (of course). At one point, we were approached by Russian naval officers who wanted to take a picture with us. It was the most bizarre moment I have ever experienced - their captain just kept trying to direct the men how to orient themselves around us in the picture in russian, and we just stood there very confused. One officer had the balls to ask us to join them on their boat, which we respectfully declined, but they were a very entertaining group.
I wouldn't recommend staying in Bruges overnight - a day trip was sufficient enough in my opinion. It is incredibly touristy and expensive, but the city itself is beautiful and a must see.

Posted by lmaitalia 11:13 Archived in Belgium Tagged bruges Comments (0)

first week!

So basically belgium continues to blow my mind. After travelling around both this city as well as two days in luxembourg, Brussels does not seem as big anymore - which is a good thing overall. I have had absolutely no time with all the exploring to do a proper blog entry, but I am going to try now. So quick recap over my first week here
1. apparently there was a large group of italians who have immigrated to belgium, therefore, I have been speaking almost more italian here than I have french - which for me is nice because I love speaking italian. My french is gradually improving though! It is hard though because most people switch into english instantly, but going to grocery stores have become much less daunting (well, except when all the ingredients are in dutch)
2. beer is actually candy here. so far, i have had apple flavored beer, cherry flavored beer, chocolate etc - and it costs about 30 euro cents in grocery stores... it still blows my mind that beer is more accessible than water though. I mean, really?
3. I am incredibly lucky to be on a program that presents such amazing opportunities. Over the past week I have visited major EU institutions such as the European Investment Bank, the Court of Justice, US Mission, Commission, Council, Parlaiment, etc. and have had the opportunity to speak with officials on topics ranging from immigration policy to the euro crisis.
4. The Irish are amazing. Yesterday we visited the Irish permanent representation, where we were able to speak with officials about thier upcoming Council presidency and their views on many current issues effecting the EU. I have never been so amazed. Not only was the official we talked with brilliant, but her answers were so eloquently presented and she really made me respect the country of Ireland and thier positions regarding certain issues
5. The cameramen at EU press conference's spend more time taking photos of the actual press than the people speaking. But I did get to experience a live midday press conference at the European Commission and saw President Barosso give a statement regarding the EU opening trade with Japan. It was actually the coolest thing ever.
6. I have yet to eat fries. (HOW?)
7. I have learned that it is physically impossible to open a bottle of wine with a group of people and not kill the entire bottle within the hour.

Today is a Belgian National holiday aka 4th of july for belgium. A group of us are going to join in on the festivities in a few hours (fireworks, food, live music, etc.) it should be interesting to see what they have here. I saw some fighter jets lined up in the grand place last night so that should be very cool.
I will try to blog more often. Things are getting less busy so I think i will be okay

Posted by lmaitalia 02:35 Archived in Belgium Comments (0)

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