My dad immigrated to Canada back in 1996. He landed in Toronto, and a year later, we met him there. Itâ€™s been 17 years since our plane touched down in the city of the Raptors, and in that span Iâ€™ve ridden the Behemoth once, been to the Ice Hotel once, and skated on the Rideau Canal three times. In that same span, Iâ€™ve lived in Toronto, Montreal, and I currently reside in Ottawa. Moving many times during elementary school and high school forced me to meet new people and make friends quickly. I guess that worked in my favour as Iâ€™ve always found it easy to approach and talk to people. The initial small talk evolved into meaningful conversations which allowed lasting relationships to be forged.
We never planned to go to Brussels. It was just a trip that we were forced to take due to a lack of trains to Barcelona from Rotterdam. But the decision proved to be a wise one. Brussels was a great city to relax and meet some awesome people. Oh, and there were waffles.
After resting in the hostel, we made our way to the Grand Market in search of the 1 Euro waffle from Mannekin Waffles. The Grand Market is an opulent square that contains many restaurants, cafes, and chocolatiers. These spots are cornered off by a palace, a chapel, and two buildings that are undergoing renovation. We arrived at the market during sunset, so we caught a glimpse of the gold-embossed buildings shimmer as the sun departed in the background. What a sight that was. We walked through the alleyways in search of the 1 Euro waffle store, but we couldnâ€™t find it, so we decided to grab some fresh fish/fried chicken n chips from Bia Mara. Itâ€™s a really great spotâ€” they offer fried chicken and fish in a cajun/lime/jerk seasoning with amazing potato wedges. To quote one of my travel buds, it was the â€œpinnacle of a hole in the wall jointâ€. Reminded me of El Camino from back home.
The next day we met up with our Calgarian buddy from Rotterdam in our Brussels hostel, and we met up with his two British roommates. Together, the 6 of us grabbed waffles from a local waffle joint, Los Churros & Waffles. As we enjoyed our waffles, we ran into Manneken Pis, who was also enjoying a waffle. It made for a great photo op, haha. After nourishing our sweet toothes, we hit up Delirium, a renowned watering hole that is home to over 3,000 beverages, most locally brewed. We tasted 7 of the beverages that were on tap, and our palettes were extremely pleased. The most tasty of the bunch had to be Barbar Gold, which had went down quite smoothly and had a rich tasteâ€” it wasnâ€™t light either. After singing karaoke to Get Lucky and taking selfies with some Spanish guy, we bid farewell to Delirium and crashed.
Brussels is a bit of a rainy city, and we experienced that firsthand on our third day. But the rain didnâ€™t deter us from taking in the palaces, parks, and statues that Brussels had to offer. Along with the Calgarian, the 3 of us went to The Royal Palace of Brussels, St. Michaelâ€™s Church, and the Manneken Pis. The Palace and the Church were beautifully constructed; the Palaceâ€™s gates are originally black and crusted with hints of gold, while the Church stands tall and the ringing of the bell can be heard several blocks over. The Manneken statue was a little underwhelming as it was located in the corner of an intersection, but it was still cool enough to take a couple photos. Still canâ€™t believe Brusselsâ€™ mascot is of a little boy urinating, lol.
Once we were done taking a million photos of everything in Brussels worth taking photos of, we had some Chinese noodles on the insistence of another traveler. â€œGo in and order any type of noodles. I come to Brussels twice a year, and always come to this spot,â€, she said; and after seeing the noodles being made by hand in front of the kitchen, we couldnâ€™t pass the suggestion.
Overall, Brussels was a welcome place of relaxation. It was a great stop for us to reconnect with our fellow Canadian friend, and meet more peopleâ€” whether it be at the hostel, at a watering hole, or even just at a waffle joint. The two British guys that we met were super chill, and they had a lot of cool stories to offer, and it was interesting to hear the significant differences of the way of life from Canada to Britain. Brussels, although quite historic, allowed for new friendships to be created. It just goes to show that no matter where you are, youâ€™ll end up somewhere in good company.
Moving around so much when I was younger definitely enhanced my social skills and aided my open-mindedness in terms of travel. Itâ€™s also played a huge factor in terms of being open to different kinds of people. Going from Toronto to Montreal to Ottawa wasnâ€™t just about going to different schools and making new friends, it was about experiencing a different world. Just like Iâ€™m doing now in Europe.