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It’s time to commence the Europe trip recaps. My grandmother will be very happy because she’s been asking me about the pictures and eager for me to post more about the trip! My first visits to Europe were with my grandmother when I was in middle school and high school. It was really crazy to be back in the same places nearly 20 years later and to feel flashbacks of those special trips with her.

We were only there for six full days and I think that will end up translating into 4-5 posts depending on if I break Amsterdam into two posts. (Spoiler alert: I LOVED Amsterdam and left wanting to get an apartment there for a month and work on writing projects…one can dream.)

So here’s recap #1 which will cover travel over and our first day…including how we beat jet lag.

flying JFK to BRU

As I mentioned in a previous post (or two!), we flew American to JFK and Delta to Brussels and ended up saving time (flying out of Charlotte had two stops) and over $1,000 combined on the tickets. This whole process was super smooth. I made sure to give us plenty of time to make the connection in JFK when I booked the flights. Our overnight flight to Brussels departed at 7:15 p.m. and everything ran smoothly and on-time.

delta economy comfort+

I upgraded our tickets to Delta Economy Comfort+ on the way for a little extra leg room since we were going to be trying to sleep on this flight. I would say it was worth it for the trip over but I’m glad we skipped it on the way back.

delta dinner international flight

Isn’t this the most appetizing photo of plane food ever? Dinner was served about an hour into our trip and I was pleasantly surprised with the stuffed chicken that I selected. It was super tender and tasty and came alongside mashed potatoes and a corn and pepper mix. There was also a side salad, a quinoa/feta/olive/artichoke salad and a roll. I skipped the roll and the packaged dessert thing. I did not skip a glass of red wine. 😉 #vacationmode

Shortly after dinner I headed to the lavatory and brushed my teeth, wiped down my face with a cleansing cloth and applied a thick layer of moisturizer to combat the dry cabin air. I headed back to my seat and watched half of a movie before deciding to try and sleep. The flight was only 6 hours and 45 minutes so sleeping time was minimal.

sleeping on international flights

I think I slept on and off for the better part of four hours. I slept through the cabin wake up and breakfast box and finally started to rouse as we were beginning our descent into Brussels. Wasn’t Tanner sweet to take this picture? I wore an eye mask and earplugs to sleep.

arriving in BRU

Deplaning in Brussels was super easy and so was clearing immigration/customs. Our baggage arrived quickly and our friend Lina was waiting for us with her adorable son! (You’ll see more pics of him soon!) We hadn’t seen each other since December so it was a wonderful reunion.

We went straight to Lina’s apartment where Tanner checked out the view and we made a cup of coffee and I ate breakfast. We made a pact not to nap when we arrived because it’s been my experience in the past that I feel like death after and so foggy/groggy.

We got settled into the guest room. Lina was SO sweet to decorate the bed for me and to leave me a birthday gift. We arrived on Thursday and my birthday was on Friday.

We made a group decision to go to the athletic club that Lina and her husband belong to for a workout because I honestly felt like it was the only thing that was going to snap me out of my jet lag…and it did! I did a quick 5K on the treadmill and then Lina and I did wall balls and deadlifts together. I felt like a new person after the workout.

brussels avenue louise

After the gym we went back to Lina’s, showered and got ready for an afternoon/evening out. We took the tram down Avenue Louise and then got off to walk around the city.

Place Poelaert

I cracked up at this random Corona bar off the side of the road at Place Poelaertwith people sunning in lounge chairs in front of it…right in the middle of the city!

Place Poelaert

We took in a view of the city from Place Poelaert before winding down towards the Grand Place.

Brussels Belgium

There were so many charming side streets as we walked with people out at cafes.

Pierre Marcolini

Of course we had to make a stop at Pierre Marcolini for some Belgian chocolates. How could we not? Just look at the gorgeous exterior decor.

Pierre Marcolini

We picked out just a few chocolates to enjoy in the moment and once we got home.

They also had delicious macarons, which little Alejandro can vouch for!

Brussels Belgium

Our walk towards the Grand Place continued.

Grand Place Brussels

And then we arrived in Brussels’ city square. I was totally flooded with memories of being there with my grandmother.

Grand Place Brussels

The Grand Place is so beautiful! It is definitely something that you should see if you visit Brussels. Lina’s husband showed me a video the next day of a lights and music show that they do during the holiday season that looks so stunning.

moule frites in brussels

We grabbed dinner and wine at one of the restaurants along the Grand Place. Of course our first Belgian meal had to be moules frites!

mannekin pis

After diner we strolled over to see the infamous Mannekin Pis and once again I could vividly remember standing there and seeing it with my grandmother many years ago. It seemed bigger then. 😉

belgian waffles

We grabbed waffles for one Euro each. Lina said it was a must and we were so glad we tried them!

belgian waffles

My caption for this on Facebook was “not quite wedding cake.” Haha. 🙂

brussels belgium

We decided to walk back to Lina’s apartment rathe than take the tram and it was such a nice way to end the evening. It was probably a 2-3 mile walk. It stays light over there until about 10:30 p.m. this time of year!

Alejandro decided to forgo his stroller towards the end of the walk in favor of shoulder rides and being chased down the sidewalk playing the “got you” game.

Back at Lina’s we stayed up way too late (after midnight!) catching up. I don’t even know how I stayed awake that long but it totally helped me on the jet lag front. I woke up the next morning (my birthday!) feeling really good. That recap is to come next!

Hope you guys enjoyed this peek into our vacation.

When you travel, do you try to taste/order the “local specialty?” 

Can you sleep on planes? 

Would you choose a Belgian Waffle or Belgian Chocolates? (I know that’s mean to ask!)

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