Posts Tagged With: Belgium

Ask Me About Free Walking Tours

Free. Walking. Tours. What’s not to like? You get to explore a fabulous city in the most up-close way possible with some of the most entertaining tour guides you will ever meet. After this summer, I am officially a walking endorsement for Sandeman’s New Europe tours (and any other tip-only walking tours – looking at you, York, Venice, & Rome).

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I met my first London friends (as well as the Bathrobe Crusader – look it up, haha) on my first London tour.

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I (along with Angela, Laura, and Lily) got one of the most entertaining history lessons in Dublin.


No group pictures were taken on my Venice & Rome walking tours – but they were both fantastic. So many iconic sights!


I took my parents on the London walking tour when they came to visit – and I was just as entertained the second time around.


Dad & I were the only ones to show up to the non-Sandeman’s York tour in the cold rain. (This one deserves its own post.)


Dad & I also went on the Edinburgh tour – where we ended up buying tickets for a guided tour of Edinburgh Castle for all three of us the next day.

Some of my best traveling stories from 2014 happened during or because of a free walking tour. I think I remember more history from one 3 hour tour than any semester of class. It is also an excellent way to get in some great exercise without realizing it. And it is always a treat to see a new city from the perspective of someone who lives there. So if you’re ever in a city with Sandeman’s, go!

“A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” – Lao Tzu

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A Brief Stay in Brussels, Belgium


Cafe lattes at the first cafe in Brussels we saw. Yum.

It is still a bit surreal for me to realize how easy it is to travel right now. We hopped on a bus (which then hopped on a ferry/train for a short period of time) and with 8 or so hours of driving were in our destination country. Belgium is officially the third country I’ve ever been to (unless you count France – we had to drive through France to get to Belgium. But we didn’t stop) outside of the US. It also isn’t really a place I ever thought I’d visit, but I’m really glad I did.


I may have had an allergy attack of epic proportions, but the gardens were beautiful.

There were six of us in total, Angela, Angelica, Laura, Lily, Chelsea, and myself. The Megabus dropped us off just after 6 am in Brussels, before most businesses (including our hostel) were open. So we trooped around, luggage in tow, in the direction of our lodgings. Luckily there was a cafe that was just opening as we passed. We sat around and waited until they opened, because, well, coffee. We were hardly bright-eyed and bushy-tailed after an overnight bus trip. Plus, this cafe had AMAZING looking tarts and meringues. The fact that they had wi-fi also helped us stay, chat, and kill time until we could see if our hostel room was ready.

As the day progressed, we checked in to the hostel (read: really nice loft), showered and changed, and headed out again for our first order of business: Belgian waffles. (What else could we have possibly done first?!) The “tourist” waffles were piled high with so many toppings you almost lost the waffle. The next day we all tried the “local” style waffles: just a waffle sprinkled with powdered sugar. I definitely preferred the powdered sugar waffle. It was better than a funnel cake!

There is one incredibly convenient thing about Brussels: you’re almost always slightly less than a mile away from wherever you want to go. We were able to see the entire city on foot, using online articles to decide where to go next. And it is a beautiful city! I loved all the architecture and cobble-stoned streets. It is so different from London, which I’m almost used to now.


All of us at Grand Place / Grote Market! Loved the architecture.

Of course, I could not write about Brussels and forget about CHOCOLATE. Chocolate everywhere. So, so much chocolate. And yes, the chocolate is all as good as you would imagine Belgian chocolate would be. My favorite sample was a dark chocolate covered hazelnut. I never got to try the chocolate covered orange peels, but I bet they were fabulous.

All in all, our just-slightly-over-24-hour trip to Brussels was pretty amazing. I enjoyed the weather and the architecture and the FOOD. There was so much food. Waffles and chocolate and fries and pizza and tarts and macaroons and croissants. The quirky local things that no one can make up, like the statue of the peeing boy that has a larger wardrobe than I do. The picturesque cobblestone streets that made three carry on suitcases sound like a small army of travelers. Crossing the English Channel at 2 am on a noisy, crowded ferry. I have always loved traveling, but now I think I am officially addicted – especially if it is a slightly out of the way place that is less crowded. If I could, I would travel every weekend – even knowing how exhausted I would be on Monday morning.


 “One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” – Henry Miller

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