With the ISA Brussels program, we students get some pre-planned weekend excursions. On Saturday we went to Han-sur-Lesse and Dinant. Han-sur-Lesse is a small touristy village, which brings hoards in for its underground caves of wonder.
It was a fun stroll. At the end, there was a dramatic light show set to even more dramatic music. It was really silly, but I’m sure a lot of people love it. The village itself is cute and Belgian, and the drive to it was filled with lovely green pastures and donkeys.
Dinant, however, is an actual place for actual people. It’s in French-speaking Belgium, with a gorgeous river running through, and lines and lines of charming restaurants and cafes. It reminded me of the small towns I enjoyed in southern Switzerland last summer, but maybe because I don’t have much else to compare things to.
The main event was a tour through the Citadel, an old fortress with some really silly mannequins.
But the views from the top were absolutely spectacular — and they better have been, given the 408 ancient steps we hiked!
After we went for a boat ride and had some wonderful ice cream (I opted for pear sorbet if you were wondering), and we all couldn’t wait to nap on the bus ride home. And napped we did.
On Sunday, a few of us met up with a French speakers meet up group, as in meetup.com. The group is made up of randoms from all over, but who all are either native French speakers or folks who want to practice their French, and they go do fun things around Brussels. This event was ISA sponsored again, meaning for the few of us who went, the entire trip was free! Yay!
The trip was to Abbaye de Villers-la-Ville, an ancient Wallonian abbey of ruins about an hour outside Brussels. The arches and rose windows, with green grass growing out of every corner, were marvelous.
We had a picnic on those tables, which was made up of a lot of cookies and chocolate. And on the train ride home, we ate more cookies and chocolate. It’s the Belgian way.
Janelle Bitker is a student at University of California, Davis and an ISA Featured Blogger. She studied abroad with ISA in Brussels, Belgium.