Fresh out of Poland with a new perspective, I was on my way back to Prague where I would convince myself to explore the city I lived in instead of venturing off alone to other nearby cities. Key word: was.
Sitting on the bed at the AirBnB, Lucy mentioned that she was headed to Berlin to meet up with her boyfriend, who was there for a conference. She also mentioned that Erica and Kim, two other remotes, were already there. Wanderlusty Lauren perked up (what a weird stage name that would be...) and I was suddenly browsing bus tickets for the same night to Berlin. Naturally, I had to check Google Flights because it had been a few days, and an itch has gotta be scratched. And…oh, what’s this? A flight to Brussels in two days from Berlin? For $9? NINE. DOLLARS?! I mean, c’mon. I couldn’t NOT go. I booked an overnight bus to Berlin for four hours later, and booked a flight to Brussels from Berlin for a couple days later. I hopped on the phone and booked the same hostel that the others were staying in (with points, cha-ching) and found a $30 flight back to Prague from Brussels. But in my eyes, Prague could wait. So, this week I:
- Took my first overnight bus from Krakow to Berlin. Ugh. This was horrible. Cramped. Stopped multiple times, where I was prodded by strangers trying to see if they could sit next to me. (HINT: NO PLZ GO AWAY). I managed to stay in my two seats without it happening, but I definitely didn’t sleep. And nine hours later, I was in Berlin.
- Arrived at our hostel too early to check in, so I sat on a couch and ate the breakfast without trying to fall face first in it (I was v tired.)
- Dropped my bag in the room once I was allowed to and promptly went on a walking tour with the three gals. Super cool tour and REALLY great tour guide. We walked all over the city which made it seem like we got the most out of our short time there.
- Went back to the hostel and worked for a bit
- Went on a pub crawl, sponsored by the hostel, which ended up being a bit meh. We met some other guys that were traveling, and, while nice, ended up getting weirder and weirder the more they drank. We ended up at some club where I accidentally grinded (ground? like beef? ew not gonna think about it) on a 15 year old boy. (YES EW THIS IS WORSE) This was unpleasant and I promptly left.
- Had to be on call for work at 3 am so this actually worked out.
- Visited the Berlin wall that’s now painted and repainted all the time. Super cool stuff.
- Wandered around and found some really cool artsy outdoor place, along with a suhweeeet gallery.
- Found a hipster Christmas market and took these amazing photos, including one for our Instagram, @DigitalDouchebag. Follow us!
- Had a drink at a lovely hotel that looked like an awesome library (though I think I forgot to take a photo oops)
- Had sushi! (you can only eat sausage for so long)
- Headed back to the hostel to get some sleep, because I had a 6 am flight to Brussels…BUT IT WAS NINE DOLLARS, couldn’t complain.
- Woke up super freaking early to catch said flight. When I left, it was pouring rain and I had no idea. I tried to call an uber like an idiot (which would have been like 40 euro) but instead, as I was leaving, saw some people in the lobby that also had bags. I asked if they were going to the airport and after they said yes, I followed them like a lost puppy. They had laminated directions – so I trusted them. We set off for the metro in the rain at 4 AM and I talked mostly to one girl. It turns out they were from Croatia and were headed back to Zagreb; small world. They were all super nice and I was so thankful to have found them.
- Arrived in Brussels super early. I had the next two days alone here, but it was a pretty eventful weekend - one that can ironically be described as the vegetable itself - bittersweet. (or sour, then sweet!)
Brussels is cool. It’s hip and trendy and felt a little like Brooklyn only not as pretentious. Next to a cool bar would be an outdoor antique sale, selling everything from old books to cassette tapes. Then again, maybe those are coming back into style just as records have. So maybe it IS pretentious. I don’t know, you be the judge. A lot of things went wrong these two days, but so many went right. So I’d still call it a win. Brussels went a little like this. I:
· Immediately was rubbed the wrong way by the people. I got to the airport and it took me literally 40 minutes to find the train because people kept telling me the wrong way to go. Once I bought a ticket for the train, I asked the man standing in the doorway (who worked on it) if this was my train. He looked at my ticket, said, “yep!” and I got on where he was. I sat down and there was one other guy on the train. I had one stop before I was to get off and get on the metro. The second the train leaves, guess who comes and asks me for my ticket? The same guy that just looked at it. The conversation went as so:
Train man: This ticket isn’t good here.
Me: excuse me?
Train man: You’re in first class. This is a second-class ticket. You’re going to need to pay.
Me: are you serious? You just looked at my ticket, why didn’t you tell me?
Train douche: I don’t make the rules. Pay up.
Me: what if I don’t have the money?
Train asshole: give me your passport.
Train man with manboobs: you can use a credit card.
Me: how am I supposed to know this is first class?
*train dick points at the number “1” faintly painted on the glass door.
This whole time, the same thing was happening to the other guy on the train. He actually worked for the public transport company that runs the metro, but not the train. Even he thought this was ridiculous, and in the end we both ended up having to pay. Great start to my trip!
- Got off to get on the metro but my credit card wasn’t accepted at the freestanding ticket kiosk because I guess Brussels hates me. So I got an expensive uber to my creepy airbnb.
- Arrived at creepy airbnb, which I wasn’t aware was going to be creepy. The listing said it was a private apartment. Wrong. It was a private ROOM in a family’s HOUSE and all I wanted to do after sleeping in a hostel for four days was sleep alone without having other girls stare at me as I showered.
- met the child (yes, I think he was maybe 17. He was the only one in his family who spoke English and I guess they’re running a lucrative airbnb business on the side) who would give me my keys. The room wasn’t ready but he said I could leave my stuff, so I did. I shook it off and got my google map ready to walk towards the centre (about a 30 minute walk).
- Reveled at the beautiful Grand Palace. Ok ok, I think Brussels is cool again.
- Got mussels and frites at a famous mussels and frites place because I was determined to eat all the Belgian things.
- Wandered around, found the Delerium bar, met the bartender, promised to come back after I made a work call, didn’t.
· Attempted to get to a coffee shop until I realized that the bigger Delerium bar was right next door. I had gone to a smaller version, but it wasn’t the one I had seen in pictures or anything.
“Surely I have to have a beer HERE!” I thought to myself. So I did.
Talked to the bartender about beer, who then convinced me to stay thirty more minutes until the upstairs bar opened, where there were apparently better beers and less tourists. Fine, pull my leg!
Met a group of girls that were studying abroad and talked to them for a while.
Finally went upstairs where I sat at the tiny bar alone for a while, met that bartender, and made friends.
Met another guy who came and sat next to me – not the Belgian lover I quite imagined, because he was gay, but I loved him and we chatted for hours along with the bartender.
Stepped out to a café to do some work.
Realized that I was kind of drunk and should probably go home. And, as this happened, my footsteps on the cobblestone walkway turned into trips – and then a fall. Yes, I fell and tripped and sprained my ankle (pretty damn badly) in front of a ton of people. Someone tried to help my up and my pride took over and I got up as quick as I could and said I was fine. I wasn’t fine. My ankle hurt so bad that I could barely walk, but I had no choice but to get home still. Only now, I was kind of drunk, couldn’t walk, and without wifi. My original plan was to go home, get ready, and go back into town for dinner, but obviously that didn’t happen. I walked (aka hobbled) to the metro station to get back until I realized that I still couldn’t buy a ticket with my card. So I pressed the help button; no one came, so the door opened and I hobbled into the metro.
Clearly, rode illegally on the metro. Luckily, I knew my stop and how to get back. I hobbled upstairs to the child who held the key to the room which held the bed that I just wanted to LAY ALONE IN. He gave me the key and said the door would lock. I contemplated a shower until he told me the shower was in the basement. I was on the fifth floor and had to go all the way up the stairs, which hurt like a bitch. So no, I wasn’t going to the basement to shower. Also, WHY IS YOUR SHOWER IN THE BASEMENT.
Attempted to sleep until I realized my door wouldn’t lock.
It’s fine, I thought, no one will definitely bother me while i'm sleeping. Wrong.
- Awoke to someone OPENING MY DOOR in the middle of the night. I freaked out, threw the covers over my head, and then saw that they had gone in the wrong room (???) or at least left. I still have no idea who it was (possibly the child?) but it freaked me out.
- Woke up at 8:30, hobbled downstairs, took a shower, and got the hell out of there.
- Took my stuff to a café and worked pretty much all day. I planned on doing the walking tour, but my ankle was so messed up that I literally couldn’t be on it. But, the cafe was awesome and I had an amazing acai bowl and coffee.
- Saw a message from a girl on couchsurfers, so I opened it. Remember when I said that guys on couchsurfers are creepy. This is apparently a thing. The girl was from Spain but living in Prague – she wanted to meet up and do touristy things. I was working, but I agreed to meet her for frites and a waffle (the two Belgian things I hadn’t eaten yet).
- Met up with her, and she was great! We chatted and realized that we were both on the same flight to Prague, so we ended up going to the airport together. And I guess creepy guys on couchsurfers are on the prowl – she had the same thing happen multiple times, which was comforting. At least I would never see that Polish dude again.
- Flew back to Prague, after a whirlwind 6 days in 5 countries.
Though I never intended to leave Prague, this trip just happened. It was amazing and fun and quite a learning experience, but I still to this day feel like I didn’t experience enough of Prague. (even though I totally did) You’ll read about what I DID do, but it was probably my lowest city of the year. Find out why in the next post… *ooooh cliffhanger!*
Professional writer, designer, and do-it-aller. Remote Year citizen/alum. Currently living in San Francisco and probably trying to avoid the terrifying amounts of pigeons.