So the morning didn’t start out well, as I was afraid I was gonna throw up. I was greatly scared that it would be the same as what happened to me in Alaska last year, where I had a three day flu that was very unpleasant. But after a bit that passed and I was able to be lively and active again. Meanwhile Lilly had stolen my phone and was listening to Bo Burnham (I’m corrupting her with terrible American comics) while playing flow. And we watched Zootopia until lunch time.
Lunch was a traditional Belgian affair, with fresh french fries (they are of Belgian origin after all) and stew. It was a delicious meal and I must thank the Franquet’s for such. I am still not sure about mayonnaise with my fries, or directly on them as I believe is customary in the country. After having the wonderful meal, Lilly’s sister (Eveline) and mother left for Antwerp and a fabric festival while Lilly, myself and her father went around Lier, talking about its history and architecture.
Lier is a beautiful city with a good amount of World War history and a few churches as well. Walking around it, Lilly and her father told me about many different aspects of the town as they pertained to its history. I’m not much of a history person but it was still a wonderful experience and lots of fun to see. I got to see the smallest street in Lier, and according to Lilly, all of Belgium. We also stopped at De Dry Hoedekens, an ice cream parlor which is a favorite of Lilly’s, where I had a scoop of Mocca and one of kokosnoot (coconut). It was phenomenal ice cream and the coconut had coconut shavings in it. I would definitely return there.
After a few hours around Lier, I grabbed my bags and Lilly, her father, and I headed for Antwerp where I would catch my train to Brussels as well as say fairwell to Eveline and their mother. While in the station, I believe Lilly stated it was the fourth most beautiful station in the world, we had a drink (water for myself) and I had a waffle. After this we stopped in the great hall of the station then made our way down all three levels of platforms to track 21. My train was waiting, as it departed about 15 minutes from when we got down there. I found a seat, not to difficult as all three carriages were empty, and Mr. Franquet and Eveline made sure I knew when to get off the train (they must’ve done a good job as I made it to Bruxelles-Midi just fine). Then I said goodbye in the platform with hugs all around, Lilly’s lasted for quite some time (not that I am complaining), and I sat on the train. A minute later I looked up and Lilly was standing outside my window watching, and waiting for the train to leave. We made faces at each other for a bit until the train started moving and we waved our goodbyes until 2019.
At Bruxelles-Midi I found my way to the Eurostar terminal, of which there were three lounges and they were not well labeled. I asked an agent and she just told me to scan my ticket, so I got in line and hoped I was in the right lounge. Turned out I was in the right area but I only found that out after 30 minutes in security and 15 at border checks. I was glad I was at the station an hour early since it took so long to get through these checks. Once through I was up on the platform and in my coach with 13 minutes to spare. Turns out the train waited for 10 minutes for the others at the immigration checks to get through, so I needn’t have worried to much.
Once underway the Eurostar staff was very attentive and kept us informed the entire way. We made up seven minutes according to the staff (however we still arrived about 17 minutes after our scheduled time) and we had a very uneventful journey. It still baffles me that we can travel under the English Channel between France and the U.K. in 20 minutes. I detrained and discovered that the name of my train was the Davinci Code, so that was fun. I walked through customs and was surveyed by a government employee on my stay here in the U.K.
After returning to Chapter I unpacked, and threw away a bunch of receipts. I changed my Euros back out for Pounds and changed my wallet. I arranged my souvenirs and contemplated how I am going to get all my booty home, but I’ll worry about that later. I did some laundry, cost me £8, and took me an hour and a half. Finally, I turned in at 2300 so I could go to class in the morning. It was a great time on mainland Europe and I hope to come back again someday. I will never run out of things to see.
Martin “Mixy” McNichols
Until we meet again