***Sorry for no photos, I have to send them to myself from my phone which I get off the camera, and for some reason tonight, only the wifi on my computer is working, not my phone! Also, I have the next blog written, but really want to include photos, so we’ll just have to wait a little while longer for that one!!***
Our trip to Belgium was nice! It was a really long day on the bus driving to Antwerp, then to Brussels and finally back to Amsterdam, but we had a really nice tour guide who gave a lot of information on both the Netherlands and Belgium along the way. In Antwerp, we toured Diamond Land (crazy overpriced jewelry that we could in no way afford! But we learned about the different colors and grades of diamonds and that Antwerp is like the capital of diamond import in Europe (or something like that? I have a terrible memory, sorry). Brussels was a really nice European city that gave me the mixture feelings of France and Vienna, because of the culture similarities with French and how clean-ish (Vienna was cleaner) and fancy the streets were. Their main plaza or square was really something else. Very extravagant buildings with gold embroidery (not real, apparently, or they’d all be stolen already!) and amazing architecture.
We went into a chocolate store where the tour group got to try samples… The platter got passed around once and then ended at this family of 5. They literally stood there while the lady talked to us about chocolate, and ate there ENTIRE remainder of chocolate!!!! We were dumbfounded. Somewhere between very irritated, and very amused. It wasnt just the kids either! The parents were shoving it down their faces just as fast. That platter could have easily been passed around the 25-30 other people at least one if not two more times for us to try another piece. But no, I really hope that family enjoyed their chocolate! (or maybe got a belly ache).
After the little walking tour by our tour guide, we had a few hours of free time. We found a cute restaurant in an alley and shared the three course meal for 12.50 euro with one free drink (we bought another so we didn’t have to share that! Priorities…). We also got a famous Belgian waffle covered in Belgian chocolate and we stopped for some souvenirs. We mostly slept on the ride back and didn’t get into the city until about 9pm! And we had left 12 hours before that! It sure was a long day. We grabbed a salad to eat with our leftover pasta at home and took the train and the bus back (after waiting for what seemed like ever for the Bus 26 to finally come once we were at Utrecht station… We were so hungry and tired I think we were delusional!).
The next day we didn’t get too early of a start but we finished packing, made breakfast and headed into the city for some last minute to-do’s. On the way to the bus stop though, one of my wheels on my suitcase got pretty badly broken and I quickly was getting worn out from dragging it along. I looked up a luggage repair place in the city and we went straight there to get new wheels. I was so exhausted once we got there and really thought my arms may have fallen off… But we made it and the man who owned the shop was so sweet! The shop had been in his family since 1873 and he was very saddened that his only daughter wasn’t planning on taking over the business but instead opened a hotel in Vienna. Which I do think is quite the accomplishment but I was really truly sad for him. That’s gotta be so hard to know that something in your family for so long is going to come to an end. And think about all the travelers who need their luggage repaired!! I didn’t see any other shops near the station!! Anyway, after leaving my bag there for him to fix, we went to the luggage storage to leave his bag for a couple hours. Then, we grabbed lunch and got some souvenirs before going back and getting my suitcase and returning to the station to head to the airport.
The rest of our day was spent in the airport waiting and then flying to Palermo! We got in a little past 8 and got in a group taxi for the long-ish journey to Palermo centrale, where our airbnb host told us to walk to her house from. We made there in the dark and were really grateful to sleep! The “room” was the apartments entrance area converted into a room by adding a bed… There was plenty of space but it was kinda funny that they went in and out of the apartment from our bedroom!!!
Anyway, that’s all for this blog until I catch you all up on our two days in Sicily!
Me ke aloha, Na Leilani