Confession: I didn't like Brussels.
I'm not really sure what I was expecting, but what we saw was not it. I'm having trouble putting my thoughts into words. Basically, the city was not very pretty, the people did not seem very happy, and I did not really feel safe. We were warned by locals heavily about pickpockets, enough to really scare us. However, we were talking today about how the same can be said for many cities, Atlanta included. There are areas you know that aren't safe and other areas that are beautiful. I know it didn't help that we can not speak the language. Fortunately, most people we asked for help spoke English. And they were pretty friendly for the most part.
Now to be fair, there are absolutely some gorgeous churches and nice squares. Grand Place was pretty cool. There were huge, medieval buildings surrounding the square, some with gold accents. All of them had gorgeous carvings and statues. We also got to visit the church in Sablon. The inside was just like any other church you'd expect in Europe: beautiful stained glass, immaculate carvings, a huge wooden pulpit, and neat rows of benches. It was very peaceful to sit in there for a few minutes to take a break from the city.
The highlight of the day, by far, was our stop at a little bakery in Sablon. We passed it on the way to the church and told ourselves we'd come back later. And come back we did. Rachel asked for a glass of red wine but they didn't have any. The man literally closed his shop, locked the door, and ran down the street to buy a bottle of wine. He came back two minutes later and let us back in. Talk about customer service! I got a delicious Vanille Brownie cheesecake. I really needed something sweet.
We got to sit for a while away from the rain and just enjoy a little break. The man brought us some free samples of some type of chocolate lollipop. Of course they were delicious. I couldn't have asked for a better ending to the day.
Would I recommend Brussels to someone? Probably not. Am I glad I came? Yes. I think it's so important to travel and get out of your comfort zone. I know I am not going to love every place I visit. While I hope I do, I also realize that it's not realistic. But I'm still thankful for the opportunity to visit a new place. Today made me very thankful for my life and for the comfort I feel at home. I don't have to worry about someone stealing things out of my pocket or wonder if the parking lot is safe for me to walk through alone. Traveling teaches you lessons for sure. Today was just a great learning experience!
We're off to Amsterdam tomorrow. So excited for this city!