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Adventures in Belgium: Part Deux

- Meghan

Time sure flies during the summer! I’ve done more traveling than I usually do so I think this summer is going by especially fast. So before I go somewhere else and want to tell you guys about it, I’m going to finish telling you about my trip to Belgium.

I last left off at the Belgium Waffles (yum!). My aunt and I had a very full day when we decided to try the On-Off bus. Many cities all over the world have these kinds of buses. Basically they just travel from one place of interest to the next, dropping people off and picking people up. You get off at wherever you want to go and then later when you’re done you go back to where you were dropped off and hop back on another bus. We took the bus to the Atomium. The Atomium was built for the 1958 Worlds Fair that was held in Brussels. Its name describes exactly what it looks like: a huge atom. Guests can take a tour inside the atom and even have lunch in one of the “protons.” The line to get in was very long because of several schools that were visiting so my aunt and I just admired it from the outside.

Our next stop was the Royal Greenhouses at Laeken. We could have hopped back on the bus but instead we decided to walk so we could see more on the way. The greenhouses are only open for a two week period in April-May when most of the flowers are in bloom. The rest of the year it is closed to the public because the Belgian royal family still spends some time at the palace. The greenhouses were endlessly beautiful. All of the flowers were in bloom — I’ve never seem so much natural beauty in one place! Even the greenhouses themselves were amazing.

Another day we took the train to Leuven, Belgium to visit some family friends. We were told to be careful when we bought our ticket. We had to make sure to ask for a ticket to Leuven NOT Louvain-la-Neuve. So to be safe we had my sister order the tickets for us in French so there wouldn’t be any misunderstanding. We got on our train and waited for the conductor to collect our tickets. He came in and was about to give us back the tickets when he informed us that we were on the wrong train. So of course there had been a misunderstanding and we got off the train at the next stop. My sister drove all the way to wherever we got off in order to pick us up, which was luckily not too far out of Brussels.

When we finally arrived at the friend’s house we decided to take the bus into downtown Leuven which is a big university town. We checked out the university library and walked all over poking our heads into churches and other interesting sights. After a nice visit we returned to Brussels to do some more sightseeing.

The weekend we were there, we decided to go to Paris for an overnight. We took a train that only took about an hour and a half to get to Paris which is pretty fast for international travel! We arrived in Paris and did some sightseeing before getting to our hotel. We first went to take a look at Notre Dame which was beautiful. We were lucky because the line wasn’t too long and we got to sit inside for a little while. After that we walked to the Louvre, stopping for some lunch at a little café. The line into the Louvre wasn’t too bad either. I was excited to see the Louvre after hearing so much about it and seeing it in the movie, The DaVinci Code. We got to see the Mona Lisa, which is so tiny! People were pushing and shoving to get a closer look at her. We also saw some sculptures and other paintings but the Mona Lisa was definitely my favorite.

After the Louvre (we could have spent much more time there, probably days!) we found our hotel. We had a room on almost the top floor. We climbed into this tiny elevator and slowly got to our floor — definitely not a place to stay for claustrophobics! That night we went to the Avenue Champs d’Eleysees and saw the Arc de Triomphe all lit up. The next day we went to Le Tour Eiffel which was exciting. That line was super long but we weren’t going to go all the way to Paris without seeing the Eiffel Tower! After an hour or two of waiting we finally got to the front of the line and to our dismay they closed the third level. After all that we were only able to go half way up! The view was breathtaking from the middle, so I can’t imagine what it would have been like from the top. Now I have a good reason to go back to Paris, so I can go to the top of the Eiffel Tower!

Our trip to Belgium and Paris was an awesome experience and I had a great time seeing so many historical and cultural things with my aunt. I can’t wait to go back!

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