This is mainly for everyone who asked me how Brussels was – so I don’t have to tell the story more than once because I’m mega lazy, but also for everyone else so I hope you enjoy the story of my trip!
Sidenote – anyone else got a new Dashboard design? It’s very swish 😀
On Tuesday morning I woke up super early (4.15am) after a pretty poor nights sleep, however I wasn’t disappointed because I was off to Brussels. A few weeks ago, I received an email from the Young Greens Co-ordinator asking me if I wanted to go on the trip and I esctatically agreed, especially since it was all paid for! I left shortly before 5am and arrived at Sawbridgeworth station with plenty of time to spare for the first train into London which was surprisingly busy (who knew people had to get trains at 5.20am for work?!)
I arrived at Kings Cross a fair bit earlier than anyone else and ended up waiting a while before I noticed a group forming so I approached asking if they were Young Greens. Luckily they were and we all got chatting, most of us not knowing each other, which made me feel a bit better as I thought I’d be the only one in a group of people who’d met hundreds of times!
We hopped onto the Eurostar at 8.05am (my first journey on one!) and arrived into Brussels around lunchtime, heading straight for our hotel which was along the canal and had this really cool light fitting in the reception.
After setting our bags down, we headed into Central Station where we grabbed lunch (I was proud that my GCSE French enabled me to successfully order a sandwich) and then met with Brussels Young Greens who took us on a tour of Brussels.
We finished our tour at the Brussels Parliament, where we were given a quick insight into the politics of federal Belgium, before being taken up into the chamber and watching a video about the Brussels Parliament. We were then given a much needed drink (after an hour and a half walking in 32 degrees heat… not cool!) where I was disappointed to have not been offered tea (which I failed to get a cup of throughout the three day trip) and then headed onwards to the Brussels headquarters of Ecolo, the French Speaking Green Party.
I thought that our trip to Ecolo was going to be one of the most uninteresting parts of the trip, but it turned out being the most inspiring part. Here, we heard Brussels MEP Phillipe Lamberts speak about his work on bankers and the economic crisis. He enticed me, which is very difficult when the topic is economics because I still fail to understand economics and I left the room feeling inspired, despite being horrendously hungry.
For dinner, the Belgian Young Greens had chosen two restaurants which were advertised to us as burgers or Belgian food. Thinking that I’d rather go with something I knew due to the language barrier, I went for the burger restaurant, which ended up being a big mistake. Firstly, they turned us away for 45 minutes or so, where we went and sat in a nearby bar. Then, they cancelled the menu down to a few items, after giving us the full menu, which although didn’t affect my choice, upset a large number of our group. To add insult to the injury, the other group were finished before we’d even ordered our food.
The following day was our ‘light’ day, where we were due to have a free afternoon which didn’t really materialise in the end. In the morning (late morning, thankfully everything was scheduled post-11am :P) we went on a tour with the Corporate Europe Observatory, who spoke about the lobbying that happens in the European Parliament, which often stops vital legislation going through.
Following this, we then went on to visit the European Young Greens and the European Green Party, where we were given lots of freebies and I decided I wanted to get more involved in the European Greens. That evening, our group leaders cooked a big meal for everyone on the cheap, and I had a few drinks with other members of the group in the bar before heading off to bed.
Our final day consisted of what i thought was going to be a tour of the European Parliament, but ended up being just sitting in a room listening to a presentation, and then meeting South East Green MEP Keith Taylor. Hearing from Keith was good, however the presentation, and the visit to the Parliamentarium after left me a little bored, given that it was things I already knew.
After speeding through the Parliamentarium, I decided to go into Central again for some gift shopping, and impressed at my memory of the area, managed to successfully navagate to a metro station, then find some chocolatiers etc to nab some gifts for people. After going back to the hotel to meet the rest of the group, we then headed off home and I was on my sofa by 9.30pm that evening.
Overall, it was a really awesome trip where I met lots of new people and learned a fair few new things. But I was definitely glad to be home, having a rest, with a cuppa!