As my favourite form of procrastination is reminiscing about my semester abroad, and as my week contains multiple exams and major assignments, I think this is the perfect time to write some more about my time across the Pond. [Note: I do not condone excessive procrastination.] I believe I have yet to tell about my visit to Brussels so I will commence there.
After saying goodbye to Anna in Frankfurt over Spring Break, Scott and I continued with our delightful first-class train ride to Brussels, Belgium. I thoroughly enjoyed this segment of the trip by sleeping the entire 4 or so hours: clearly, I am a delightful travelling companion. We arrived that night and were met by Cory, a friend from Melville (our residence hall in St Andrews). It was already dark outside but he showed us a bit of the city before heading to his house. Our first stop was to get Belgian waffles.
Let me pause here. Belgian waffles.
real. authentic. Belgian. waffles.
I am forever ruined. They were beyond delicious! We ate them while perusing La Grand Place–the public square–which is full of wonderfully ornate old buildings. A few blocks away we also saw the obligatory Manneken Pis, which is a fountain of a little boy, well, peeing. For some reason, Brussels is famous for this little fountain. Who knows. There were also dozens of interesting cobblestone alleyways and it was so tempting to explore each of them. It was getting late though, so the three of us took the trams to Cory’s house in the outskirts of the city. And what a cool house! I wish I had time to talk about all of the cool things they have. My favourites were Cory’s huge Lego model of Hogwarts that he made himself and his room, which could have been fully decorated from a Harry Potter set. (Cory founded the Quidditch team at St Andrews, runs a French HP fan website, and speaks at conferences. I dare you to find me a bigger Potterhead. He’s the best.)
After a restful night’s sleep and breakfast–where we got to meet his family–we were off again to the city. And what a city! Aside from the fact that a wonderful friend and my academic dad are natives, it’s an amazing place. One of the first places we went was the Justitiepaleis, or Palace of Justice. It is called a palace for a reason. That monster of a building should make anyone afraid of breaking the law. The Royal Palace is probably smaller but lovely, and we spent some time walking around the park in front of it.
I’m very grateful to my friends for indulging my Catholic-ness. When Cory asked us if there was anything in particular we wanted to see, I said Catholic cathedrals. He asked which one and, not knowing anything about Belgian cathedrals, told him to choose. I am happy in any cathedral. So off we went to Église Notre Dame du Sablon, or Cathedral of Our Lady of Sablon. I especially loved the way the chapels along the edge of the sanctuary were arranged in almost an open-air fashion, let alone being in a 15th-century cathedral filled with beautiful artwork and echoes of ancient hymns lingering in the rafters. There was also a marble alcove dedicated to two families with statues and crests all around, and a baptismal font in the middle. It was so still that I couldn’t help but feel solemn and reflective.
Wow. That was a lot of photos in a row. I wish I could share them all! I also wish I could keep writing, but–alas–academics do come first. I will share more soon; until then, please say a prayer for all of the Erskine students tackling midterms these next couple of weeks. God bless and keep you!