New Years in Belgium

This is our friend Chelsea, about to be attacked by a bird.

A month or two ago Chelsea contacted us with the news that she was coming to Europe over New Years. Jacob and I had planned a short trip to Belgium, and were thrilled that Chelsea would be joining us.

Our trip got off to to a rocky start. While Jacob and I arrived in Brussels with no trouble, Chelsea's easy direct flight turned into a 36 hour travel fiasco. Chelsea's first flight, from Las Vegas to Montreal was significantly delayed, causing her to miss her connecting flight to Brussels. From then on the difficulties only escalated - Chelsea was rerouted three times, and delayed on all 4 flights.

In the meantime Jacob and I waited. We explored Brussels, stopping to track down an internet signal every hour to check for word from Chelsea. While we enjoyed our time in the city, it was significantly dampened by Chelsea's absence.

Here is some to the stuff we saw: Brussel's main square.

Some really cool street art.

A beautiful park.

A little sculpture of a boy peeing, "Mannekin Pis," famous for some mysterious reason.

To our great joy Chelsea finally arrived in Brussels, albeit a day and a half late. We gave Chelsea a quick tour of the city, then jumped on the train to Antwerp where we would be staying the rest of our trip.

We loved Antwerp even more than expected. It was a vibrant city, full of interesting shops, people, and beautiful old buildings. We spent hours meandering through the picturesque alleyways, walking along the waterfront, and popping into pubs to try Belgian beers.

Oddly enough, my favorite part of Antwerp was the train station. We had heard that the Antwerp Central train station was one of the most beautiful Europe - and I have to agree. I cannot imagine one more extraordinary.

After the glorious facade of the main lobby, the trains came and departed on four levels, all enclosed in a gigantic glass atrium-like roof. The beauty was even enough to make catching a 7 a.m. train enjoyable.

Our little group took two daytrips during our time in Belgium. The first day we went to Brugge, a little town famous with tourists for it's quaint buildings and myriads of canals. The majority of the town was shut down for the holidays, so we spent a few hours walking around, then hopped on a train back home.

The next day we went to Ghent - a gorgeous university town brimming with beautiful sights. We felt like we were stopping every two minutes to take yet another picture.

We celebrated New Years Eve in Antwerp. It occurred to us that this would be the first New Years any of us had experienced where we would actually be some place cool (ie: a city) in which to celebrate. Even though we were ready to fall asleep at 10 pm, we decided to pretend we still felt young and exciting and go out for the midnight fireworks.

Undeterred by the rain, we bundled up and walked to the riverbank where we could watch the fireworks. The river was lined with hundreds of people, many of whom had brought along their own bottles of champagne. Some of the locals were going so crazy that we were occasionally getting drenched in champagne (or beer) showers along with the rain.

All in all, teeth chattering and dripping wet by the time we got home, it was a good night, and definitely the most memorable New Years Eve any of us had experienced.

On January 3rd we said goodbye to Chelsea who was heading off to visit another friend in Berlin. Jacob and I took the train down to Switzerland, where we will be spending our last month before we head home to California.