I don't know about you, but I really think that everything happens for a reason. If it's meant to be, you will be in the right place at the right time. And even the weirdest situations teach us something or at least make memories.
After one crazy day in Brussels came another, of course with some ups and downs. We had a lovely breakfast at the hotel and we decided to walk around and see what the city center has to offer. Also, we didn't have any plan for this day. So we visited some parks and shopping streets and noticed nice castle. We didn't know is it allowed for tourists to go in there, is there any tickets we need to buy, but as we saw people going in, we followed them. The man at the door didn't explain much, just demanded us to leave our photo cameras with them and then let us go. We walk through the amazing rooms.They were decorated with ornaments, gold details, chandeliers, drapes and interesting furniture. It was like in very fancy and expensive museum. I don't know what date it was, and why they let us in just like that, but we wouldn't be able to see this beauty if we would be afraid to do something unusual. It turned out to be The Royal Palace of Brussels.
After that, we wanted to breathe in a little more culture, so we went to the closest museum. It was Royal Museums of Fine Arts. We decided if the tickets will be too expensive, we will skip this entertainment. We stood in the line for a while, when we noticed employee coming our way. We asked her about the tickets, and she kindly pointed at the board on the wall with a price chart. And then she smiled and said: "But you don't have to worry about it - today it is for free." We were very surprised and happy. Turned out every month first Wednesday admission was free after 1 pm. It was exactly the time we entered the museum.
The right place and time.
We were very lucky to get in for free, second time in one day. More economical as we thought!
Museum was huge. We walked so many hours and I felt my feet swelling. There was so many floors, rooms, with paintings and sculptures. I felt like in the endless maze. There was a huge elevator with a couch in it. For us it was surprising. After many many hours, we finally got out. Although we really enjoyed the museum and I suggest everyone to visit it, we didn't have enough time for it. It was a short trip and we still had things to do. We decided that we need to do something that every tourist should do in Brussels - eat the huge Belgian waffles. They weren't so cheap for our limited budgets, but we still bought some.
Mmmm! So heavenly! While our taste buds had a party, we went to see one of the most important symbols of the city - Manneken Pis or Peeing Boy Statue. When someone tells you it is small, believe. It really is! Just like Mona Lisa.
A little later we were supposed to meet our new friend from yesterday. But as we still had some time, we used it to rub famous Everard t'Serclaes statue. From that moment on, we knew that wherever you go, you have to rub every shiny statue what you see, because everyone does, and that's going to bring you luck (and some germs).
When we met our friends they immediately took us to the Delirium Cafe and in front of it, there was The peeing girl statue. We were surprised that there also is a female version of the statue. This place was well hidden and the locals told us, that if you want to find this place and the Bar you really need to know where to look. As it was the middle of the week, the bar wasn't so full. Amazing thing was that this place served Only (!) 2400 different beers. The Beer menu looked like a Bible. We thought that it will take the whole night for us to choose what to drink. Lucky for us, our friends knew where to start. They ordered different beer for everyone, so we could taste more than one. Every beer had a different glass, and it was nice unique touch.
In my country, people do love beer. We have many kinds of dark, light beers and even with honey. But when we tasted each of those beers, I felt that there is a whole new world opened for me. Tastes were so significantly different. There was pine, meadow, cherry, sour or very sweet taste. We really enjoyed the beer tasting game. We had a nice conversations, also learned some words (of course most of them were bad ones) in French and really got into the mood of partying.
Our friends took us to another place where we danced for a while. And then we went to the main square for a laser show which was projected on the majestic building's walls.
It was almost midnight, so we had to get to the train station. As our flight was very early in the morning and there were no Shuttle buses that early My BIG "Brilliant" plan was, to take a train. Long story short - go by train to the station which is closest to the airport and then just WALK to the airport. Just that easy!
BUT of course, the closest train stop wasn't so close. It was 5-7 km far from the airport! But we wanted to save money, so that's what we did. Our friends helped to buy the tickets and we got on the train and hoped to get out in the right spot. It was very late, 1 am I think, so it was dark outside and we couldn't see the stops. A nice man helped us to get out in the right place.
Another obstacle was that we didn't have internet available and we didn't have proper maps, just very poor quality printouts from Google maps. Nowadays its even hard to imagine a situation like this. Everyone has internet and GPS on their phones, or at least you can download some offline maps. We didn't have such advantages.
So imagine three young people get out of the train, in the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere. We were the only ones getting out here, so we didn't know which way we should go. Lighting was really poor. We noticed a light in the parking lot next to the stop, but there was a fence. We didn't saw any paths or gates. The night was cold, and we had to get moving, so we decided to climb over the fence. It was dirty and wet after few hours of rain. Luckily we got over it, in the parking lot, and we figured out our direction to the airport. It was only then when I noticed open gates just a few meters from the place where we tried to jump over the fence.
So we kept going through the small town and tried not to get lost. Our Google maps did not show all the roads, so it was even more difficult. Suddenly we noticed a light line not so far from us. It was a highway! It was our goal to find it and then just guided by signs reach the airport. We knew that it is illegal to walk there, but it was so late, that we thought maybe it will be fine. John noticed smaller street and it seemed to connect with the highway in some point. So we decided to go there as it was a little less dangerous. We walked for a while and the street became smaller and narrower. In the end, there was no street lighting and it looked more like a trail than a road. It was dark and John was ahead of us, just to check where the trail leads. After a moment he yelled: "Girls, there is no road anymore. It's more like a meadow. Very swampy meadow!" The grass was wet and the path got muddy.
I was shocked. We had walked at least 15 - 20 minutes to this road which led us in nowhere. We really didn't want to go back. We saw the highway. It was very close, just we had to get up the embankment. We crossed the ditch and John helped us crawl up the steep side of the highway. The grass was very long, almost up to my elbows. It was wet and cold and I felt awful by going through it. After this battle, we finally were on the highway. Cold and wet. I had sandals, so there was no surprise when I felt snails between my toes. The mud was everywhere. We laughed. Nothing could surprise after this!
We felt free from the swamp and happy to get back on track. But just when we got over the safety barrier we noticed a car stopping. It was new, black from top to bottom (including windows) and very shiny. Anitas first reaction was: "Is this is the part where we got kidnaped and our organs will be sold in the black market?" The car doors opened and there was Arabic man sitting and inviting us in. John was the bravest. He tried to communicate with the man, but he didn't understand a word in English. So John started to imitate plane with his arms wide open. Sign language probably worked the best. I asked Anita: "Should we go?" and she didn't even manage to answer when we already sat in the strange man's fancy car. I prayed that he would actually drive us to the airport, not to some crazy torturing house (Yes, I have seen the "Hostel"). Luckily, He did. And he told us (in part french part sign language) that it is very dangerous to be on the highway, so we shouldn't do this ever again. We knew that! This was our second time in two days!
My plan really was stupid! But still, we managed to see the city and get back to the airport.
In the end, we got home safe with these crazy memories. No one can take those away from us. And even now I remember this like it was yesterday.
I really do not recommend trying any of this, but if there are some fails, hits, and misses in your travels - remember that it will be one great story! Just believe that there is a reason for everything! Even for the snails in your shoes! :)