After our stay in Holland, we headed over to Belgium. We had arranged our tickets ahead of time for the train through to Brussels from Amsterdam, which had turned out to be a little more complicated than we had anticipated. The problem lay in the fact that the Canadians had been intelligent about their travelling expenses and had organised themselves passes for the whole of Europe. In contrast, the South Africans had arrived with no clue what to do and a strong hope that Europe worked in much the same way home did. Thus, we had to organise separate tickets for the two nationalities.
In a way, it was easier for the Africans because we just had to buy our tickets straight out, whereas the Canadians had to make bookings for the one train, but not pay while paying for the second train. The whole process was smoothed over by the very cheery and, for lack of a better term that doesn't conjure as many images of fat old men with white beards in red suites, jolly ticket lady.
The actual morning of our departure was exciting to say the least. We arrived at the main station to discover that the train we were supposed to take through to Brussels was no longer running and thus, we were to take an new train through to a small town to catch our connecting train.
Lacking any alternative option, we decided to catch the train to the hamlet-in-the-middle-of-nowhere. We were a bit early for that train and so decided to each go and get ourselves some breakfast before the train left. We took it in turns to find food and return to the platform to guard our luggage while the next expedition went for their food. As it turned out, our expeditions took longer than expected and we almost didn't catch the train in time!
The ride out of Amsterdam was uneventful. We arrived at our destination station and disembarked from our train. We waited for a good half hour on the station platform for our train to arrive. It was a surprisingly miserable day and rather chilly, so the wait felt very long! Eventually, one of our number decided that the cold was too much and retreated to the toasty saftey of the station building itself. She returned shortly thereafter to announce that our connection train had been cancelled as well!
At this point we decided to retire to the building as well and wait for the next one to come through. We did so and settled down in one of the restaurants to just take a break. After a while, we went to catch our train which, miraculously, wasn't cancelled. We were on our way to Brussels!
In Brussels we stayed at a small but fantastic Bed and Breakfast called the Lught en Light Bed and Breakfast. It's a family operated place which is really charming! After checking in and dumping our luggage, all except one headed out together into Brussels.
Our first port of call was the European Union centre. We saw several of the EU buildings, including the EU parliment, none of which were particularly interesting. We then went in search of the Natural history museum of Brussels, famous for some of the fossils which they have on display. As it turned out, we'd arrived on a Monday, the only day that the museum is closed. So we opted to find other tourist traps instead and return to the museum the next day instead.
It was still relatively early in the day at this stage, and so we had a lot of the day left to do our exploring. We decided to use our more financially-friendly feet than the metro to get around. As one can imagine, this means you get hungry eventually. This was our problem.
We had managed to induce that feeling of being absolutely famished in the middle of a district in Brussels entirely devoid of anything edible!
So we decided to try and navigate our way out of this doldrum and find food...