We had been in London for two weeks, and they had been without a doubt some of the most exciting weeks of my life. I couldn’t have been happier with the places I was seeing and the things I was experiencing. However, Europe is huge, and there was so much more to explore! A group of us decided that we would visit another country for the weekend (Amsterdam, the Netherlands). Little did I know this small weekend getaway would leave me with some of my craziest memories so far.
At this point I would like to say a quick thank you to parents for somehow always being on top of travel plans. Who knew traveling was SO STRESSFUL?? Trying to organize a trip with a group of 15 or so clueless college students was an adventure in itself. It took over a week and hours spent sitting around a computer just to make sure everyone had a bus ticket and somewhere to stay – and even then, we ended up trying to squeeze 11 people into a room for 4!
Eventually, our plans were finalized and the day had come. 10 of us lucked out and ended up on the same bus: one that left London at 2pm… and wasn’t scheduled to arrive at our destination until 8am the next day. This unbelievably long bus ride was because of a 4 hour layover in Brussels, Belgium. Naively, our group had decided that staying at a bus station in Brussels from 11pm – 3am sounded like a fine idea, so we booked the trip anyways.
After 9 long, uncomfortable, boring hours, our bus rolled in to the station at Brussels and kicked us off. We grabbed our huge amounts of luggage and headed to find the nearest pub or restaurant… only to find that everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) was closed. Luckily, we were all so tired and delirious at this point that no one started to freak out. We simply headed inside the train station where we would sit and wait until our second bus arrived.
About an hour into our wait at the station, a loud announcement came over the speakers in French. We all listened intently and then laughed at the fact that we had absolutely no clue what had been said. A mere 5 minutes after the announcement, two heavily armed police men came around with a barking, sniveling dog and yelled at us to leave. “The building is closed!”, they shouted after us as we scrambled to grab our bags and exit.
At this point it was around 1am, in a scary city where absolutely no one spoke English. Our group slowly shuffled to a bench where we huddled for warmth and safety. The only other signs of life were the occasional homeless person walking by and one tank that rolled through around 2am. Without a doubt, those hours spent on the side of the road were some of the scariest of my life. I feel like I aged 10 years that night, and yet it is really cool to look back and feel proud that our group stuck together and made it work!!
Needless to say, our second bus eventually got there and we made it to Amsterdam, where we had an INCREDIBLE time!! However, I do plan to steer clear of Brussels from now on, for fear of PTSD!