And another croissant-filled breakfast! I was still feeling bummed to be leaving Paris so soon, but I’d never been to Belgium and was curious about what we might discover there. Several couples from the tour left the group to stay in Paris, and it was a sad goodbye to them before we headed off.
Our time in Brussels was extremely brief, to the point that I wish I hadn’t even bothered coming and had just stayed in Paris like several others did. Due to a series of unfortunate events (one member of the group tripped and injured herself on the walk into the city and another couple had to catch a flight leaving out early in the afternoon), we were given about ten minutes to walk around, another ten minutes to see the Manneken Pis, which couldn’t have been more of a disappointment, then thirty minutes to scarf down lunch before we needed to head back to the bus.
I can now say that I’ve been to Brussels, but honestly, I don’t really feel like a visit of about an hour even counts. I at least was able to snag a waffle, which I felt was mandatory — who knows when I’ll be back to Belgium for one!
On our way out of Belgium, we stopped to see the Atomium — a landmark that I’ve seen pictures of but never knew what it was. It was another extremely brief stop of about fifteen minutes, then back to the bus to head to Amsterdam.
Back at our starting point, we all said our goodbyes and went our separate ways. I checked in to my hotel and didn’t know what to do with myself. It was so much fun hanging out with fun people doing exciting new things for the past 8 days, and now there was just… nothing.
I was not at all prepared to miss all of these people who had been strangers to me just over a week beforehand, but spending so much time together gave us a special connection. It was the best part of this entire experience and it was something I never expected. While there were a lot of things I’d have wanted to change about the trip in hindsight, I wouldn’t have changed the people. We were from different countries and were different ages, yet everyone was so friendly, open and made me feel included during the entire trip, even though they were there traveling with their friends or family. It was an amazing experience I’ll never forget.