Brussels, the Early Bird Edition

The great thing about being an hour away from Frankfurt, with its central location, is that most European centers are only a couple of hours away via high-speed trains. The annoying thing about being an hour away from Frankfurt is you don't always get to make it to the best weekend schedules because of the additional sixty minutes of travel. Which is why, even with my fifteen-day Eurail pass, I found myself aboard the overnight bus to Brussels - I couldn't catch the first train trip from Frankfurt and the next one would get there by noon.

I'm not very fond of traveling by bus on this part of the world, having taken it to Prague and back. Whereas trains are huge and spacious with very comfortable seats that fully recline, buses are the exact opposite - cramped and stuffy and you can only adjust the backrest by a couple of millimeters. And I'm complaining, and I'm Asian-sized.

All aboard

But, well, I was intent on making the most of my visit, so overnight bus it is. I left Frankfurt around midnight and was set to arrive in the Brussels Nord train station at six in the morning. I was determined to get as much sleep as I can within that time, but unfortunately I did not get to snooze right away because I had to wait for my seatmate to finish using my phone.

Ah, yes, my seatmate. I thought I lucked out because I nabbed a place beside a girl who did not reek of weed. And then she saw me browsing with my phone (I have a German sim with a mobile data plan) and asked me if she could borrow it to "send my mum a message on FB". Being the nice person that I am, and because it's generally a bad idea to offend your seatmate during the first five-minutes of a six-hour overnight trip if you want to get sleep in peace, I handed her my phone. And she did send a message to her mom. She also liked a couple of pictures, commented on a couple of wall posts, and took the time to review her friend requests. After a good fifteen minutes I had to ask for my phone back because I was really, really sleepy (and I was worried we're already past the German border and I am not willing to pay for data roaming charges).

I woke up at five in the morning, and was silently celebrating the joy that is one more hour of sleep. And then I looked outside and saw the train station. We were an hour early! During the one time I would actually appreciate a delay (I have been in fact, praying for one). Tsk, Murphy.

I clambered down the bus in a daze, with absolutely no idea where to go (and what to do). There was a small waiting room for bus passengers, and I decided to stay there while I tried to get my bearings. I ended up staying there for a good half an hour, staring into space, just because it was too dark to go outside. At the first sign of daylight I took the train to Brussels Centraal, shoved my stuff into a locker, and stepped into the cobbled city streets.

Here's the thing with being a really really insanely early bird - you have the city all to yourself.

Even Manneken Pis was peeing alone.

It's one of Brussels's most famous landmarks, but I had a bit of difficulty locating it because there was no gaggle of tourists to lead the way (I came across exactly two people on the way there, and they were both sweeping the streets). 

And no city is complete without a cathedral (or two ten). 

All this wandering about was done on foot, and I was getting quite weary, so I snuck into Mokafe at Gallerie St. Huber as recommended by a friend.

Belgian waffles + Belgian coffee = <3
It's a very cozy cafe, and there were only a couple of locals (I assume) reading the paper, so I lingered for a while. After finishing a chapter on my Kindle I browsed through my notes for this trip and was quite surprised that I've ticked a good majority of the must-see boxes already. 

I got up and paid for my meal, put on my coat, and readied myself for the second half of my day. I glanced at my watch. It's 10 in the morning :)

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