This past week Justin, Maggie and I took our first international trip since being in Spain! We wanted to go somewhere Christmas-y, so after doing some research we decided to go to Belgium! After taking a cab, train, plane and various buses we finally made it to the beautiful city of Brugges. This city is so pictureseque and cozy!! We spent our time walking around the little town, visiting the Christmas market, ice skating and sipping on mulled wine to keep ourselves warm. The weather was shockingly cold for me- we definitely weren't in California!!
One night at the Christmas market we met a group of Belgians who insisted on showing us the Brugge nightlife. Luckily, they all spoke English very well because prior to meeting them we were constantly be talked at in French and Flemish and in a constant state of confusion. What seemed to be a quiet little town ended up being a lot of fun! At the bar we went to, someone spilled their drink on me so I went to go get a napkin. I went up to someone at the bar and asked for a napkin when I realized he had no idea what I was saying, so I had to resort to charades. He then told me that he was Italian so I asked if he spoke Spanish, but he did not. For whatever reason I thought it was a good idea to just continue speaking Spanish to him, in turn he responded in Italian and we were actually able to communicate!! I ended up talking to him for a while, so ever since then I find any moment to bring up to Maggie and Justin that I speak Italian. Although they seem to think otherwise...
On our last day in Belgium we made our way to the capital, Brussels. After being in perfect and idyllic Brugges, Brussels quickly became a disappointment. It is very dirty and not a whole lot to do. And to make matters worse, we had a whole day and night to spend here without a place to stay. Since our flight back to Madrid was so early in the morning we thought it would be best to stay out all night in order to save a buck. Once 2 a.m. rolled around we took a cab to the train station to get our luggage out of the lockers and to catch the bus to the airport. Meanwhile, as we were driving through the streets that resembled Compton, some man jumps out of his car and starts fighting with a group of men on the side of the street. Needless to say, I was greatful to be leaving Brussels. Once we got to the train station we walked up to the door to see that the woman who previously told us they were open all night long was very wrong. I saw two security guards through the window and tried to tell them we needed our stuff but they just shook their heads and told us that they open at 4 a.m., which is when our bus was supposed to leave. So for the next hour and a half the three of us tried to take cover from the freezing cold and creepy people. Just then two boys wiggled one of the doors open to the train station. I asked them if we could go in with them which resulted in them giving me a weird look and saying something in French. We decided that following potential robbers and risking arrest in a foreign country would be best to avoid. As the time ticked we got more and more nervous about missing our bus and flight. Maggie had convinced the bus driver to hold the bus for 4 minutes so that we could run and get our luggage once they opened at four. So Justin and I watched the clock tick as we prepared to sprint into the train station. Well, 4 a.m. struck and the doors still had not opened. Desperate times call for desperate measures so we wiggled our way into the loose door and made a sprint to our luggage. I am glad to announce that we made it on the bus and avoided any type of arrest haha.
Although our trip to Belgium was wonderful, I was very glad to be coming back to Madrid. Last night we went to our local bar to watch El Clasico, which is the big soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona. Being immersed back into the Spanish culture after being away only showed me even more how happy I am here! And after having ten days off from work, I must say that I am looking forward to seeing all my cute students!