Day 4- Strasbourg + Road Trip to Brussels.

In the morning I woke up, met Alexander in the lobby for breakfast, but then decided to take my food on the go because we wanted to run to catch the 9:30 boat tour (first tour of the day). They have a 70 minute boat tour through Strasbourg for less than 4 euros if you’re a student, and there are headsets that you can tune to English to learn all kinds of interesting things about Strasbourg. The english version was in an Irish accent and I imagined it was Colin Farrell the entire time, and he made some pretty entertaining jokes. Sadly, it’s been several days now and so much has happened that I can’t really remember much about the tour besides how pretty it was.

On the Boat Tour

On the Boat Tour

For the rest of the pictures I took on the boat tour, click here.

After the tour, we went to the Museum of the history of Strasbourg, which turned out to be free on weekends, and sadly we only had time to get through the 1600s before we had to leave to get lunch before boarding the bus back to Brussels. Interesting fact learned: the first newspaper ever was in Strasbourg! That explains the international journalism school on the boat tour 😉

For lunch I bought Tarte Flambee (on the recommendation of an undergrad friend- Justin Miracle). It’s kind of like a mini-pizza but a thinner/flatbread kind of crust.. and… very uniquely delicious? I was slightly disturbed by the ingredients. I just got the classic one and it was in french but it included a cream sauce, cheese, onions, and … lard? I hope lard means some kind of meat because it looked kind of like little pieces of bacon. Even if it was just pure fat, it was pretty delicious. I also bought a banana and dark chocolate crepe…. one bite was like HEAVEN. I used to not like Dark Chocolate but the digestives in London have converted me and now I’m obsessed with Dark– I’ve “come over to the dark side” so to speak 😉 I had some milk chocolate the other day (which I used to love) and it was bleh. Mmmm talking about this makes me want more dark chocolate now!

Tarte Flambee (and the crepe to the right)

Tarte Flambee (and the crepe to the right)

Anyway, so I took all that food on the bus, and we began our 7 hour journey to Brussels on the bus with no bathroom. We did stop for a 45 minute break in Bastogne, Belgium… but that was already like 4+ hours into the trip.. AH! Also, we had to pay .40 euros to use the WC, and the woman working the bathroom was playing that “Kissed a Girl” Katie Perry song on a little radio. So random! The stop was also another USA memorial which was actually pretty cool to see. (Although, we drove through the cute town of Bastogne through all the nice shops and PLACES WITH FOOD to the isolated memorial where I ended up buying a big bag of sour gummy bears to hold me over until we could get real food. I wish we could have stopped in the town, but there aren’t many places to park large tour buses in tiny europe towns).

The Memorial in Bastogne

The Memorial in Bastogne

I think we made it to the hotel somewhere around 8ish, quickly unloaded our belongings and headed to the City Center for our food. Super nice hotel, slightly not so nice walk down to the city center… when you’re starving and it’s late at night and you are walking through a kind of run down neighborhood in a foreign country and sticking out like a sore thumb… kind of adds to the creepiness. But we made it and the city center was very cool. There was a big festival going on so it was packed down there. Alexander and I found a cute (and very expensive) place for dinner. I was so exhausted and so hungry, and when I opened the menu and saw the prices after we’d already got our drinks hot tears started running down my face. I had been looking at all the menus as we walked down the street trying to find a cheap place and we ended up at the most expensive one. However, the food ended up being good, and it was a nice, relaxing dinner so I managed to suck up my tears and feel ok about it 🙂

Next we ran into some fellow students and went on an adventure to find this famous statue which is basically a little boy peeing. Apparently, the original statue in the 1600s got smashed, and the guy who smashed it went to jail for LIFE. Can you imagine? “Yeah.. I killed a bunch of people.” “Yeah… I smashed a statue of a little boy peeing.” Seeing it was like seeing the Mona Lisa… it’s this tiny little unassuming thing that if you just saw it and didn’t know it was famous, you’d probably just walk on by.

Manneken Pis

Manneken Pis

After that, I think we got waffles from a stand (amazing!), some Leonidas chocolates (because they are a lot cheaper in Belgium- where they are actually from- than in Santa Monica), and headed back to the hotel.

That’s the end of Day 4!

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4 Countries in 5 Nights = Very Exhausted Girl!

Last Tuesday night I slept in Great Britain, Wednesday and Thursday I slept in Luxembourg, Friday I slept in France, and Saturday I slept in Belgium… WOO.

I’m going to try to recap all of the events, but for now I will just start with Day 1, and I will come back later to gradually write about the other days.

The first day (Wednesday), we caught a 7am train from St. Pancras in London to Brussels. There was a slight delay due to everything being backed up from that Channel Fire a few days ago (in one of the tunnels that goes under the channel between the UK and “the Continent”), but otherwise the ride was smooth and we made it to Brussels without any problems.

In Brussels, we boarded the bus that would practically be our second home over the next several days, and went on a mini driving tour through Brussels. It made me really wish we had one of those entertaining tour guides like we had on the London bus tour, because we didn’t know what most of the stuff we were driving by was. However, we did see a giant sign that said “What language should the EU speak?” and I was like “English… Duh!” After all, the sign was in english… that kind of makes it obvious right? 😉 The EU actually speaks something like 27 languages, and it’s a big deal to them that everyone gets to speak their own language, so in their court rooms and stuff they have head sets and interpreters and everyone speaks their own language and then you can listen to it in your own language on the headset. More on that later when I talk about the court case we saw in Strasbourg! Europe definitely makes me feel LAME for only speaking one language. Everyone I meet over here can generally speak at least 3 languages. In Luxembourg, children are on their 4th language by the time they hit middle school (Luxembourgish, French, and German are all learned in elementary school, then they start learning english).

Anyway… Back to Day 1 in Brussels… Next, we went to check out the European Parliament. This mainly consisted of (1) waiting in a long, slow line to get cafeteria food, and (2) sitting in a very warm room, being tired since we all got up between 4 and 5am, and because we just ate a huge lunch, and listening to a woman with a very strong Portuguese accent try to explain the EU to us. Tired + full + warm room + not so exciting topic = recipe for law students dressed up in fancy suits falling asleep during the speech. Honestly, I know pretty much nothing about how the EU works so I did find the session informative and interesting, but when you’re full and tired, how they choose the number of seats each country has in the parliament isn’t exactly the kind of topic that keeps you on the edge of your seat 😉

Lunch in the EU Parliament Cafeteria

Lunch in the EU Parliament Cafeteria

(The great thing about this photo is that, except for the fruits and veggies which were for Alexander, I ate everything else… I was so hungry!!)

Me at the EU Parliament

Me at the EU Parliament

Triumphal Arch--Taken on the Bus Tour

Triumphal Arch--Taken on the "Bus Tour"

Next we toured the building which was pretty cool and provided some good photo ops 🙂 Then, we boarded the bus again and headed to Luxembourg. Luxembourg is a tiny country between France and Belgium. Due to a slight room arrangement fiasco, I ultimately ended up in a room by myself in the “nice hotel” with the married couples across the street from the hotel where most of the students were staying. Technically the nice hotel was a 4 star and the other a 3 star, but aside from a nicer lobby with a 24-hour desk clerk, I didn’t notice much of a difference between the hotels (I saw Alexander’s room in the 3-star, and it was just as nice as the 4-star). We had a few minutes to get changed and then we headed out for a group dinner at a place called something like “Brasserie Guillarme.” It was a cute place, delicious, and plenty of food to go around! At the end, we had a chocolate mousse that basically tasted like dark chocolate cake batter. DELICIOUS!

After dinner we had free time to go out, but by then it was already pushing 11 and I chose bed time for how I would spend my free time.

So anyway, that was Day 1! I’ll write more tomorrow!