Epic Weekend #2: Brussels and Amsterdam! (Part 1)

Since no songs about Brussels immediately spring to mind, I did a little YouTube search and found this gem:

The video actually has some decent shots of the city, and I took very few photos of the place in my short time there, so I decided to post it despite the blatant rip off of Jay-Z’s “Empire State of Mind.” Here’s one of Brussels during the day, for a cursory idea of the architecture in the main square:

The journey: Mink, Peter and I caught the bus to go to Bratislava and fly to Brussels for the weekend. We’d been out until 5 a.m. again the night before (at a really cool bar with chill music) because apparently that’s what we do, so it was with a bit of luck that we actually caught the bus on time. I’ve gotta say, it wasn’t the first time we’ve had to run to catch some mode of transportation, as being on time isn’t our strongest asset in most situations. A little over an hour later, though, we successfully made it to Bratislava and checked in to our flight. With a round trip cost of only 80 euros, how could we not go? (I love Ryanair. If you ever need to travel within Europe and are reasonably flexible as to dates and/or location, this is an awesome airline to check out.)

We made it to the city by shuttle bus from Charleroi (the small town our plane landed in), figured out the underground system, and made it to the street our charming hostel was on just as it began pouring rain. Thoroughly soaked, we checked in to our awesome 4-person room and then set out to explore our area of the city a little before Laura got in on the train from London. Ironically enough, we ended up eating at a donair shop, of which there is no short supply in Vienna. But to be fair, we had excellent kebap/falafel wraps to accompany our first Belgian beer of the weekend.

When Laura arrived at the hostel around 10 p.m., we let her get settled in and then headed to a main stretch of the city. We passed by the venue where an awesome DJ, Amon Tobin, happened to be playing that night. He is a pioneer in making new sound combinations, and I’m at a loss for how to adequately describe his music. You can listen to his new album, ISAM, here. This is the kind of music that makes me think humans are not all terrible all of the time, but that’s just me (it’s a much better song than that of the previous video, I promise):

I’d really hoped to catch Amon’s set, but unfortunately (again, curse those prompt concert starts in Europe!) the concert had just ended and people were leaving Ancienne Belgique and yammering excitedly about their experience. Damn our bad timing, but what kind of concert ends at 11 p.m. on a Friday, anyway?

How serendipitous that he should be playing in Brussels on one of the nights I happened to be there; how regrettable that the timing didn’t work out. I doused my crushed heart with a(nother) can of Belgian beer and decided to make the most of the rest of the night.

The four of us wandered around the gay district and saw some promising places, but eventually we settled on the innocuous-looking Café Central for the night. The highlight of the night (among some other not so great things) was when I found a fedora on the street – which Mink proceeded to wear the entire time we were in Amsterdam. Epic. Late into the night we walked back to our hostel to get some sleep before heading to Amsterdam by train. Granted, we didn’t see a lot of Brussels, but we had another night to go there so I wasn’t too worried…

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