Europe Reflections Part III: Lost in the Streets of Brussels

“Bon voyage, Mademoiselle,” chimed the Uber driver as we arrived at the Brussels airport, he had unknowingly just rescued me from over an hour of wondering around, lost in Brussels. It was 6AM and I’d be catching a flight to Sardinia in less than an hour. I felt an immense sense of relief because the journey to get to this airport had been a wild one.

Let me take you back to a couple of hours earlier. I had spent the night at a hotel located in the outskirts of Brussels, Belgium. I booked this specific hotel because I knew it was near the airport, and they offered a free airport shuttle. This seemed like a flawless plan to make my super early flight to Sardinia. 

I woke up around 4AM, got dressed, grabbed my bag, and headed downstairs. When I approached the hotel lobby desk, I asked about the airport shuttle. The secretary gave me a curious look and asked if I had scheduled pick up by the airport shuttle. I returned the look with the same level of curiosity and responded with, “no, I thought it just showed up automatically”. She told me it was no big deal, she would call the shuttle and they would be here shortly. All I was to do was go outside and wait at the shuttle stop. 

I arrived at the shuttle stop and sat there patiently. I called my boyfriend to feel like I had some company. 

What appears to be an airport shuttle pulls up. I hoist my 4 liter backpack over my shoulder and climb on. I notice that there is only one other passenger, with very little baggage for someone who is heading to the airport. I found this peculiar. I’m chatting with my boyfriend who’s still on the phone when I get an odd feeling. I decide to look on Google maps and see if we’re getting close to the airport. Thank God for that international phone plan.

To my utter shock, we were actually moving further and further away from the airport. 

I stand up and tell the bus driver I need to go to the Brussels airport. He repeats the word “no” along with “Brussels airport” a few times along with some French words and pulls off to the side of the road. He opens the bus door and points, and says more French words. He seems to be giving me directions, while also encouraging me to get off of the bus. At this point I have no idea what to do so I walk off the bus. 

Now I’m alone and stranded, at 4AM in the middle of a foreign city that right now, isn’t looking too friendly or safe. Also, I’m 6 months pregnant. I start to mentally beat myself up for endangering my unborn child.

I’m reminding myself of all of the un-approving looks I got when I told people I would be embarking on a backpacking trip, alone and pregnant. “Haven’t you seen the movie Taken??”

I was honestly terrified. I went into fight or flight mode. I plugged the address of the airport into google maps and was directed to walk a mile to a train station. I thought, okay good, I’ll walk to the train station and figure it out from there. At least I’ll be somewhere indoor, well lit and filled with people. 

That one mile walk felt like a marathon. I was so on edge the whole time. I was clutching my pregnant belly and my heart jumped a little every time a car passed by. I was praying to God to keep us safe.

Finally I made it to the train station and that’s when I realized the train “station” wasn’t a train station at all. It was a train stop and it wasn’t indoor, well lit nor were there any people there. It was an outdoor train stop, that didn’t feel anymore safe than the streets I had been walking on for the last 30 minutes. I checked the train schedule that was posted and the next train wouldn’t be there for over an hour, there’s no way I could make my flight in that time and that would require me to sit here even longer, alone in the dark. No thank you. 

I was panicking when the most obvious idea hit me, Uber. Why hadn’t I thought of this before? Well actually, I had thought of it before but I wasn’t sure if the town Brussels even used Uber, also I assumed that no Uber would be available at 4AM. Luckily for me, that assumption was false.

I requested an Uber and he was there in minutes. Two stray kittens scurried by and I started to play with them. They were an uplifting distraction, so I decided to take a picture. My Uber driver in shining armor arrived, and I was so shaken up that when he offered to put my backpack in the trunk I said no, and I clung onto it in my lap the whole car ride. Before I knew it I was safe at the Brussels airport. Indoor, well lit, and filled with people.

Read more of my Europe Reflections here!

“A Bump Abroad”

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