Four months into 2018 and I hadn’t travelled anywhere in France (let alone Europe). That certainly doesn’t sound like me and I desperately wanted those stats to change. So you can imagine my happiness in learning that I was going to have 10 days off in April and that happiness only multiplied when I got a call from my dad telling me how he coincidentally has a business trip planned to Europe that same week.
Deciding to make a trip of it, we chose to distribute those days between Paris, Brussels and Bruges. Even though the both of us have visited Paris quite a few times before, it had been quite a while since we visited the standard tourist spots around the capital. And so after picking my dad up from the train station (yeah I was particularly content about the switch in roles) we hopped on the metro and headed over directly to L’Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile, where much like most other tourists around, we had to scramble over to the middle of the ever so crowded Champs-Élysées to get that perfect picture.
L'Arc de Triomphe
We spent the next couple of days visiting some of the many tourist attractions the city has to offer, from The Louvre and Montmartre to the ever so famous Tour Eiffel. And if there is one thing that caught my attention it is that, how many ever times you’ve visited Paris, it doesn’t cease to be one of the most beautiful and mesmerizing cities out there.
But more importantly, this father-son duo decided to imbibe the culture in the best way we know to, by stepping into some of the many little French cafes, restaurants and bars. I thoroughly loved the experience of sitting by the side of the famous streets of Montmartre, wine in hand with a platter of some of the best French cheese just as much as my humongous burger and beer from Hard Rock Café Paris (another one off the list). In fact we ended up deciding where we would have our next meal and then figuring out if there were any attractions on the way.
That's some good wine!!
Soaking up the sun
A couple of days later we took a Flixbus (which is an excellent and very affordable bus service that connects most major European cities) to Brussels. Throughout this bus journey I only had four very specific things running through my mind, Belgian waffles, chocolate, beer and fries. On arriving, we left our stuff in the hotel and headed straight out to the Grand Place which is full of boutiques and restaurants. The extremely aesthetic streets branching out in all directions from the Grand Place manages to immediately lift up your mood and they are rightfully packed with tourists trying to get their fill of the many Belgian delicacies they can find around them. Over the next three days, we spent our mornings at meetings (since this was the business end of the trip) and our evenings relaxing at different locations around the city, notable in the highly recommended “Delirium Café” which holds the current world record for the most varieties of beers commercially available under one roof at 2004 varieties.
Delirium Cafe - Brussels
The next and final stop on our trip was Bruges. A comparatively smaller city, 40 minutes out from Brussels by train, it is a dream for a lover of architecture. This beautiful city is intersected by canals in all directions and both sides of these canals are lined with numerous ancient buildings, some dating back to the 12th and 13th centuries. Even though most of the visiting can be done on foot, the boat ride through the canals is something you should not miss. We spent the three following days with a map in hand, walking around the entire city crossing off sight-seeing and culinary attractions. To top it all off, the people we came across along the journey were just so helpful and selfless, it seemed like the icing on an already very delicious cake.
Taking the Flixbus back to Paris, I was thoroughly satisfied of having planned this trip and enjoyed each and every day to its fullest. Now to get back to the groove of my second semester in France.