Whilst in Andorra I had time to think about what I wanted to do, go and I realized I needed to see my friends who were coming to Barcelona for a few days.
I used a cool website that searches all departing flights out of an airport and averages out 2 weeks of fares.
I very nearly picked Morocco but ultimately decided to enjoy Belgium as round trip was right at $100.
Only thing was I had to fly out mid-week thus leaving myself about 2 hours to get my card, breakfast and get to airport.
When I woke I didn’t shower, get free coffee or anything, I was on a mission!
It wasn’t as big of a hassle as I expected. Walked into the bank, spoke with the teller who needed my passport for ID, then handed me my card back.
On the way to the hostel I felt total relief when my card withdrew euros. I wasn’t sure if the bank would call my bank and tell them it was lost or if the card was demagnetized.
It’s pretty peculiar how check out times vs flight times seem to never align. You’ve got to wake up very early and rush to the airport or wait around most of the day. I had 2-3 hours before my flight to kill either out in the city or cooped up at the airport.
I had enough time to snag a free cup of coffee at the hostel. It was a pay by weight buffet style, cold foods and grains, but I didn’t see a cashier or any $ change hands.
Plus coffee is very cheap, it’s likely a 80% profit for them so I do not feel bad having a free cup.
Found a breakfast shop close to the hostel and procured a hot meal of potato, egg and bacon pie like dish. ‘Twas a good send off meal.
While the metro does indeed stop at the airport, there are 2 terminals so, you guessed it, I did not get the metro to my terminal.
No worries, that’s why you get to airport over an hour early right? Well the solution was simple, a bus that shuttles between terminals.
10 minutes go by, we are still making stops.
20 minutes, now what?! We actually get on the highway, that’s how big this airport is!
Oh don’t you know that my airlines requires me to check in to get boarding pass.
The airport, while huge, doesn’t accept app boarding passes and since I’m flying to another country or some such ‘security’ reason, my airline won’t send me a printable boarding pass.
It’s a huge line of course once the bus drops me off and I locate my airlines. I have to also go through security too. I estimate my flight begins boarding in 30 minutes.
Line moves very quick, most people aren’t checking bags so the process is literally tell them a name, show passport and they print a ticket. Maybe 1 minute per person.
I now have 10 minutes to pass security and find my gate.
Small security line which I fly through. Approach the screen with flight info and yup, my flight has been delayed. Haha all that worrying for a lot of nothing.
I had over a half hour now so I walked the terminals. Some bad weather was the reason for the plane delay.
When it came time to board the lady taking my ticket advised me it was only 1 carry on bag free, ‘you have 2 bags,’ she said.
Technically true, a backpack and an over the shoulder bag, a murse one might say. It was certainly not as large as some of the purses I saw ladies carry.
‘It’s small, it will fit on my lap. Are you going to also charge ladies for purses now too?’ I ask.
‘Try to fit it into backpack.’ She replies.
I dramatically shoved it into my backpack with most of it still jutting outside as I attempted to move things around so it will fit, but some people laughed and a lady came to my rescue stating ‘seriously?’ to the attendant as she passed us.
‘Go… go on now, ‘ the ticket lady told me.
I bring a small bag to stow my iPad, headphones, water etc. specifically so I have everything I need with me in my seat and can sit quickly vs rummaging through my backpack in the aisle, like others do, holding up the boarding process.
Secondly, I figured if I’m robbed they will take 1 bag to speed things up. They ain’t getting all my stuff is my hope, too.
I collapsed into my seat and pretty much fell asleep for the 2 hour flight. Damn airports and budget airlines wore me out.
Upon finding the rail line I remembered why tickets were so cheap: 2 very stern military guys stalked the platform, guns at their chests, barrels aimed down.
Duh, there had been a bombing in Brussels in the past month so people were still wary.
Lightning won’t strike twice will it? We shall see, bad things happen everywhere.
A few stops and a long walk I was at the river my hostel was adjacent to.
Smooth check in and I reward myself with a beer from a cooler by the doors. Cheap prices too.
After dropping my stuff in my room, got the top bunk yet again, I find a seat next to an outlet in the waiting room and charge up whilst I savor my well-earned beer.
I scan around and find a couple Irish pubs near city centre. The Euros were nearly over and due to the amount of time I’d dedicated to this point, I felt I had to finish.
Brussels seemed to be permanently overcast I noted as I recalled the last rainy few hours when I was here in May.
The walk was down the street from my hostel, due east for about 15 minutes, then it suddenly opens up and it’s city centre.
No cars, so lots of street performers. In fact they must have performances here as there are bleachers off to one side of the street.
There were already protests, demonstrations going on the steps at old city hall. Today it was for people killed in the wars for oil.
It’s tough walking by as an American because we started it, hard to argue oil wasn’t a primary motivation for the Persian Gulf war and yes all bombs and bullets do not only hit bad guys, they kill children, mothers, families.
Crying women, my sons, my cousin, my grandparents, killed, and for what? Read their signs…
I kept walking to my pub shaking off the horrors my country is known for just so I can drive around using cheap gas, oil based bags and other consumables.
The streets are black cobblestone in Brussels and since downtown has limited car traffic, walking around is easy and safe.
A short time later I find the Irish pub as well as the last empty seat at the bar, TVs are to my left center and right sides. I’m covered.
The place fills up as I down a white, saison beer, one of my least fav styles up there with anything smoked and sours. Oddly I’d change my mind about sours while in town…
I order some food before the game and a good, light Belgium ale.
France was well represented at this pub starting with the French national anthem sung by several tables followed by loud gasps and a couple chants during the match.
Luckily they won and on my walk to my hostel I watched two groups of French fans meet up in the middle of the street and sing La Marseillaise. Les national anthem.
It was round 11 and I felt like one more beer but mainly my new favorite pastime was changing my shoes into flip-flops to sit outside whilst my feet aired out. I just hoped no one smelled anything, I mean I’d walked many kilometers per day.
As I enjoyed some outdoor time, I was entertained by a group of very drunk English guys trying to set up a beer funnel. Problem was the very different heights of the two guys attempting this maneuver.
The solution was one stood on a bench, while the other kneeled. Beer still went all over as is the hallmark of funneling beer in their state. A glass was knocked over near me too.
One of the group came over and apologized, made sure I wasn’t hit by flying glass.
I told him I was fine and we laughed at how dumb a couple of his friends were acting.
Ran into the English guys again later inside and the one I chatted with outside bought me a beer at the pub and asked if I was good at pool.
No matter the answer I was playing their game. 1£ per person, everyone took a shot, you were out if you missed, last person left won the pot.
I was introduced and everyone cheered. I reminded them of a friend of theirs back home as well as a character from a British tv show named Smitty.
I go fairly far but don’t take the pot. More beers appear, as do shots.
The place is closing soon and unbelievably they are all going out to another pub. I’m exhausted by this point so I tell them I catch up with them tomorrow.
Beer: Ramée blonde
Song: Oasis Rock n Roll Star