By Jason Vu

Although our program has plenty of class time for us to learn in, we also get plenty of leisure time to explore on our own! On one of our three-day weekends, my friends and I decided to book a Flixbus to see the cities of Brussels in Belgium and Amsterdam in the Netherlands. It may have been a bit crazy to fit so much into one weekend, but I think we saw plenty!

Our first stop on this weekend was Brussels, which was about a two hour drive from Paris. First thing we did after settling into our AirBnb was head out in search of Belgium’s famous waffles. Using the city’s metro system, we made it to the main square and were surrounded by Belgian waffles. I made my way to a store with reasonable prices and was treated to a thick waffle covered in whipped cream and nutella. Truly, I’ll never eat waffles the same way again…

Me with my life-changing Belgian waffle.

After gulping down my entire waffle (and half of my friend’s), we continued to wander around the square, stopping by the town hall and some art museums on the way. We soon found ourselves at the Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula. Serving as the main Catholic church of the city, the cathedral boosted a grand Gothic design with two towers in the front reminiscent of Notre Dame in Paris. We walked in to see great pieces of Baroque art including paintings and sculptures that adorned the church’s walls. Our visit to this cathedral was truly worth the sites, and given that entrance is free, I’d highly recommend!

Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula in Brussels


Our final stop in Brussels before calling it a day was the city’s botanical gardens. Filled with beautiful plants, garden mazes, and statues, the garden was a joy to wander around, especially with the region’s temperate weather. While wandering was fun, my favorite part personally was sitting by the cool ponds scattered around the garden and taking a rest from walking. With the last leg of our Brussels trip out of the way, we went back to our apartment to get a little rest and prepare for Amsterdam.

Botanical Garden of Brussels (ft. friends wandering in front)


Bright and early the next morning, we woke up and got back on Flixbus for a two-hour ride to Amsterdam. The first thing we did when we arrived was looked for somewhere to eat. Fortunately, we stumbled upon Meneer Pannenkoek, a Dutch omelette and pancake restaurant that boasted huge portions for decent prices. I ordered a large omelette stuffed with mushrooms, cheese, and bacon that, for me at least, was worth 2 meals. With our bellies stuffed, my friends and I made our way to Dam Square, the main plaza of Amsterdam.

My first Dutch meal in Amsterdam


Wandering the city through until the night, we got to see much of the city including the Flower Market and the Dutch Royal Palace. The best part of the city for me, however, were the many bridges that offered great views of the city. Even with all the sites we did get to see, only one day in Amsterdam was definitely not enough, so I’ll definitely be back in the future!

Nighttime view from a bridge in Amsterdam

Jason studied abroad in France in Summer 2019.