Brussels, Belgium

Real life.

Brussels, Belgium.

I realize I’m probably being unfair. That all I talk about is how hard things are and how miserable I am and how lonely I am. And how much I just want to go home.

But, really, I know my life right now is pretty amazing. And I wish I could appreciate that more.

But every time I think I’m coming around and am happy with how things are, something happens to deter me. Like when a man comes up to me on the street at night and asks a question and then won’t leave me alone and follows me and tries to put his arm around me. And then I finally get rid of him and just want to go home and cry.

And I shouldn’t let such things get to me so much.

I should think of the ways this is a good life. Like how I wake up in the morning and think “what do I want to do today?” instead of “what do I have to do today?” And usually what I want to do involves wandering around a park or a castle or an art museum or eating a lot of ice cream. And I eat out for almost every meal. And my tough decisions include such difficult choices as “should I go to Italy before I go to Spain?”

So yes, I am having a hard time adjusting. And yes, you can’t just take a girl with a whole lot of issues out of Chicago and expect them to go away. And you can’t take a girl who really likes just curling up on her couch and watching TV away from her couch and TV and expect her to know how to function. And I know for sure that this isn’t something I would want to do for the rest of my life or even for a whole year. But for now, I suppose, it is a wonderful way to live.


I spent my first full day in Brussels just walking around. Most museums are closed on Mondays so I went through a park, saw some buildings.

Brussels, Belgium

Brussels, Belgium

Brussels, Belgium

And then I had fries topped with mayonnaise for lunch.

Frites with mayonnaise in Brussels, Belgium

And then maybe a cone full of Godiva chocolate covered strawberries…(it is a Brussels-originated company…)

Godiva chocolate covered strawberries in Brussels, Belgium

And yesterday I got a cappuccino and then spent the morning at the Magritte Museum. Which was pretty amazing. And then I went to the City Museum where I paid 4 euro to see a bunch of stuff I didn’t care about up until the third floor where there was a room full of the Manneken Pis’s wardrobe collection.

Manneken Pis's wardrobe at the City Museum in Brussels, Belgium

The bubbly one reminded me of Lady GaGa.

Manneken Pis's wardrobe at the City Museum in Brussels, Belgium

And his America outfit was Elvis.

And then I went back to my hostel and spent the rest of the day in bed, with a sore throat and a good book. Because it’s nice to just be able to rest and have time for all of the things I don’t have time for in real life.

And this morning I…found a Starbucks… And got a white mocha. That came in a mug. They don’t do that at home.

Starbucks in Brussels, Belgium

I went to another art museum and looked at paintings so big I couldn’t imagine how someone actually painted them.

Art in Brussels, Belgium

And then went to all of the different chocolate shops and bought myself a treat. And I retired in the most cliche way to read On the Road and eat Belgian chocolate…

Starbucks in Brussels, Belgium

Hi, I'm Val. I spent most of my 20s in a standstill, unable to pick which path in life I wanted to take. I wanted the nomadic life of a traveler but also wanted the husband, the condo, and the kitten. Unable to decide which life I wanted more, I did nothing. When I turned 30 I’d had enough of putting my life on hold and decided to start “choosing my figs.” So, I quit my job, bought a one-way ticket to Europe, and traveled for three years. Now I'm back in Chicago, decorating my apartment in all the teal, petting my cats, and planning my next adventure.

  • Vince
    July 31, 2011at8:50 am

    Val! I’m so glad I stumbled upon this! (I’m learning that Facebook can be a great way to keep in touch with old friends but I still have to do the work =P or else I could go months without knowing what someone is doing).

    Hey, certain things are more of a challenge to one person than they are for another. Travel is definitely one of them – and people do it in different ways too. I don’t find travel a challenge, but the last time I stayed in a hostel and just bumped around was when I was 20. 5 years of traveling for work and I can’t do without my chain business hotel, fresh clean (and private!) bathroom, and good hot breakfast. Oh, and going places where I either know the language or can get by with one of the ones I know. So, many props to you.

    I never thought of Brussels as sketchy! But one of the other things I have to remember is that there is a big giant difference between a man traveling alone and a woman traveling alone. Another challenge I don’t have to face.

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