For my last week abroad, I decided to cram in as much travel as I could, as I know that I’ll return to Copenhagen one day. I made a trip to three different countries in six days and enjoyed every second of it!
Friday, December 6th
Around noon, my flight to Brussels took off and I spent that hour and a half finishing up my last assignment of the semester (!!!) and catching up on some sleep.
After I landed, I made my way out of the airport, onto a train, and into the city center where my hostel was! It was definitely cold and rainy when I got in, but that’s nothing I’m not used to!
This is what the inside of my hostel room looked like:
A 30-second walk away from my hostel was the Grand Place, which is the most popular spot in Brussels. It is a square surrounded by gorgeous buildings, so I decided to go explore it for a little bit.
Afterwards, I tried to escape the cold by going into a little museum called Musée de la Ville de Bruxelles (or Brussels City Museum). While all of the descriptions of the displays and exhibitions were in Dutch and French and I understood next to nothing, it was still a beautiful museum about Brussels’ history, full of sculptures, paintings and scale models of the city.
After the museum, I started to just wander around the city center and found myself in the Galeries Royales St. Hubert, which is a gorgeous walkway full of chocolate shops and waffle restaurants….a DREAM place!!
Post-buying more waffles and chocolates than any one human should have, I made my way back to my hostel for a little bit before I headed to dinner.
On my way back to the hostel, the light show was happening in the Grand Place, lighting up all of the old, gothic-style buildings to the rhythm of the music that was playing.
For dinner, I went to a beautiful little restaurant called La Chaloupe d’Or, which is right in Grand Place.
I will say, walking into a restaurant and proudly proclaiming “table for one” is very liberating and it’s one of my favorite things about solo travel.
Anyway, La Chaloupe d’Or was a cozy place with super friendly staff and great food! I tested out some Belgian beer, gave Belgian fries a chance and enjoyed some time on my own in a place full of groups.
On my way back to the hostel after a lovely dinner, I couldn’t help but stop and stare at the City Hall all lit up!
I decided to end the night a little early in the hostel, as I knew I had a full schedule for the next day!
Saturday, December 7th
The night before, I met a girl in my hostel named Sara and we decided to spend the day together, exploring Brussels!
As our other roommates in the hostel weren’t the best and were occupying the bathroom for a while, Sara and I got a pretty late start to the day and began our day with lunch at a place called Brasserie Ommegang.
For lunch, I had moules and frites (or mussels and fries), which is a classic Belgian dish that I had to try!
After lunch, we started out on our adventure of a day.
The first stop was Brussels’ most valued and photographed statue: Manneken Pis. And it was exactly what you are thinking it is.
This little peeing statue was definitely a strange sight, but Sara and I felt we had to give it a visit in order to be able to say that we really went to Brussels.
After Manneken Pis, we started to wander around the city and stumbled upon the first cathedral of the day, which was called Église Notre-Dame de Bon Secours. This tiny little cathedral was beautiful and was a very peaceful place to be.
After this cathedral, we walked around Old Town Brussels, which looked a little like this:
We found ourselves at another cathedral, but this one was much more grand. The Église Notre-Dame du Sablon was magnificent!
Our next stop was the Palace of Brussels, but we stumbled upon some gorgeous buildings on the way!
Eventually, we made it to the palace!
Once we had seen enough of the palace, we wandered the nearby gardens before we headed back to our end of town.
We went back to the lit up alleyway in our neighborhood and strolled around, getting to know each other more!
We also ordered some classic Belgian waffles, which were AMAZING.
Afterwards, we headed back to the hostel and took power naps, so we could gear up for the rest of the day!
Once we had rested for a little, Sara and I made our way to dinner, for which we went to a pizza place called Nona!
Nona was spectacular. All of the ingredients were organic and were from local Belgian farmers and the pizzas were cooked in a wood-fired oven. It was excellent.
After dinner, we went to an area of Brussels that our server had recommended to us called Delirium Village.
Don’t worry. I know that sounds a little scary, but it was just an area full of young people and it had the Guinness World Record bar for serving the most types of beer (2004!!). We each grabbed a beer and chatted until we were ready to head home for the night!
Sunday, December 8th
This day started out super early for me. I had a train to catch at 8:30 in the morning, so I had to wake up early, get ready for the day and find my way to the train station.
Luckily, all of that went pretty well and I made it to my train with time to spare.
For the majority of the train ride, I caught up on sleep from the night before. To be entirely honest, Brussels was my first experience staying in a hostel and it was less than impressive. While it was super clean and I met Sara through it, our other roommates were pretty rude and were loud all night and kept the lights on until 1am. So, you can see why I needed to catch up on sleep.
In between naps, I snacked on a waffle I had picked up the day before.
After three and a half hours, I had finally made it to my next destination: Luxembourg!
I hopped on a bus that took me to my hostel and started to get really excited.
After I checked in and dropped off my bag, I found lunch at a nearby Italian place called Mi Garba.
The food was excellent and so was the service! I can’t recommend Mi Garba enough.
After lunch, I decided to make my way around Luxembourg and just explore by myself!
I was in complete awe the whole time. Walking around Luxembourg was like walking around in a Disney movie! Here are some pictures:
One of the places that I found myself at was called Casemates Du Bock. The Casemates are little hallways built into fortification walls, from which cannons would be fired in the old days. Unluckily for me, I couldn’t actually go in, because they were closed for the winter, but I walked around on top and got to see the walls!
After strolling around on one of the paths that wraps around this gorgeous part of Luxembourg, I moved more into the center of the city.
Here are some of the sights:
One of the best things that I noticed about Luxembourg is that it was so peaceful. Maybe because it was December or maybe because Luxembourg isn’t the top tourist destination, but everything was quiet and calm which was SO refreshing.
After wandering for a while, I came across the National Museum of History and Art, which I used as an escape from the rain! Luckily, all exhibits were free to enter so I had a pretty cost-efficient couple of hours.
The bottom three floors covered the prehistoric periods, the protohistoric periods and the Gallo-Roman period:
After that, the museum transitioned into the art portion of it all:
After the museum, I kept wandering around the city and made my way to the Eglise St. Michel:
After a quick visit to this beautiful church, I made my way back to the hostel.
There, I finished up my last essay of the semester, putting an end to my academic career at DIS.
After a couple hours, I went back to Mi Garba for dinner, as I didn’t want to go too far away and I had really enjoyed my lunch!
That basically put an end to my night, as I just went back to my hostel and had a chill night in!
Monday, December 9th
After a good night’s sleep, I woke up and got an early(ish) start to my day!
I began my morning with a walk/hike to Mudam, a contemporary art museum in Luxembourg.
Mudam was wonderful. The entrance to the museum was one of my favorite rooms in the building, as it was a huge open space with lots of natural light and marble walls.
The first exhibit I found myself in was one that was focused on art, movement and science, so it was very interesting and interactive.
One of my favorite exhibitions was by David Wojnarowicz and it was called History Keeps Me Awake at Night. This exhibit and Wojnarowicz’s work was dedicated to his advocacy work for those diagnosed with AIDS, as he had lost numerous amounts of loved ones to the disease due to the government’s inaction. Here is some of his work:
After walking through the rest of the museum, I found myself in an empty room with loud music. When I looked up there were drums hanging from the ceiling that seemed to be playing themselves!
Once I was finished with the museum, I sat down in the Mudam café and enjoyed a cup of coffee in this gorgeous room!
Next, I started to make my way towards the center of Luxembourg to find lunch! Here are some pictures from my walk:
For lunch, I found myself at a place called Onesto, which was another Italian restaurant. It was PHENOMENAL! I think that I ate the best pizza I’d ever had.
Once I was finished eating, I wandered around the center of the city more and then headed back to the hostel to recharge for a little bit. Here are some views from my way back!
After a lovely FaceTime sesh with my friend, Anjali, I went back out into the city.
In Luxembourg, there are a few fun paths that lead you around the city and take you to beautiful sights! I wandered along one of these for a couple leisurely hours and enjoyed my last evening in Luxembourg.
That was the last exciting thing that I did that night, as I retired early, prepping for the next day!
Tuesday, December 10th
Early in the morning, I checked out of my hostel and hopped onto a shuttle that was headed for the train station.
That’s right…I was headed to ANOTHER country.
After buying some snacks in the train station, I got on the train to Amsterdam, which took about six hours. Here are some pictures from the train ride:
After a LOT of napping, I had finally made it to Amsterdam! As soon as I arrived, I started to find my way to my hostel, at which I was planning to wait for my friend to meet me!
Which friend, you ask? None of other than JILL!! The best travel buddy ever.
Anyway, here are some of the views that I saw on my walk to the hostel:
After a little while, I had made it!
Our hostel was called Ecomama and it was so cool! Jill and I had a private room, but there were plenty of community spaces where you could meet new people and relax.
Once Jill arrived, we headed out to grab some dinner at Pizzeria La Traviata, which added to my Italian food theme on the trip. It was here that I discovered my go-to pizza order from then on out. Margherita pizza with plenty of olives. It was SO GOOD!
After dinner, Jill and I made our way around an area called Rembrandtplein and decided to finish our night out at a place called Three Sisters!
We called it a night relatively early, as we had both been traveling for a good part of the day and then headed back to our cozy hostel to go to bed.
Wednesday, December 11th
As our only full day in Amsterdam, we decided to get a (relatively) early start and made our way to breakfast!
For breakfast, we went to a cute little restaurant called Bakers and Roasters and had an amazing meal.
After breakfast, we actually went back to the hostel and took a nice long nap because of something that had happened the night before.
At 2 in the morning, one SINGLE fire alarm went off. Only once. And that left Jill and I in a place of utter confusion. No one else seemed to have been bothered by it/awake so we wandered around the hostel for about an hour, making sure nothing was on fire.
So, on Wednesday, we needed that post-breakfast nap.
After our nap, our day was ready to (actually) start!
We left the hostel and made our way to the botanical gardens in Amsterdam. Jill and I seem to make this a priority on our trips and I LOVE it.
We wandered around the gardens for a while, which included a 3 climate house, a butterfly house and a palm house, not to mention the gorgeous grounds on which these houses were situated.
After a wonderfully relaxing time with nature, it was time for something that was a little more Amsterdam-y.
We walked to the Red Light District, which is one of the most famous areas in the city. The district is named after the red lights in some of the windows in which something called window prostitution occurs. This is something that is a big part of Amsterdam’s rich history and was super interesting to learn about!
To get a little more insight on the district and the history of prostitution in Amsterdam, we went to the Museum of Prostitution. This walked us through some women’s stories, opened up about the harsh realities of the job and gave us a new perspective on Amsterdam!
After walking the district for a while, we grabbed some bubble tea and headed back to the hostel to rest up for about an hour.
Later, we went right back to the Red Light District and had dinner. I bet you cannot guess what kind of food we had….
Italian!! We ate at a place called Cafe Piazza and enjoyed even more Italian food.
Afterwards, we went to a cute little bar to grab a drink and Jill and I made it on the staff photo wall!!
Once we had made Temple Bar Amsterdam history, we decided to head home and get some sleep.
Thursday, December 12th
To start our final day, Jill and I went to a place called Piqniq for breakfast.
On our walk there, the sun was rising over beautiful Amsterdam and made for some great pictures.
Breakfast was PHENOMENAL! We had the best luck with food on this trip.
Once we were finished with our beautiful meal, we made our way to the most suggested place in Amsterdam: the Anne Frank House.
On our way, Jill and I grabbed another picture together in the beautiful (but cold) Dutch weather:
When we arrived at the Anne Frank House, we had signed up for a 30 minute introduction session that gave us greater knowledge about the Frank family and made our experience in the house much more meaningful.
In the actual Anne Frank House, we weren’t allowed to take any pictures, which I think made the experience much more immersive and impactful. We saw the bookcase that covered the opening to the secret annex that the families hid in and walked through the rooms that had been stripped of furniture by the Nazis after they were discovered.
It was surreal to be there. While many had stories similar to Anne Frank’s, hers is so famous because the house was turned into a museum and preserved, which is an excellent opportunity for education in order to prevent anything of that magnitude from happening again.
Once we were finished at the Anne Frank House, we wandered around Amsterdam and made our way to a place called Barts, which is a famous Dutch hat company! Jill and I both splurged and treated ourselves to beanies, which came in handy as it was a little cold outside.
Afterwards, we went back to the hostel, grabbed our bags and went to the airport to fly back home to Copenhagen, thus ending the trip altogether.
And what a wonderful trip it was. Getting to explore Europe for these past four months has been crazy privilege and I couldn’t have asked for a better way to end it!