Tag Archives: Lists

Brussels: 5 Tips to Get You Started.

Manneken Pis

Manneken Pis

Brussels is famous for quite a few things: Beer; Chocolate; Mussels; Frites; Graffiti; Being the base City for Europe’s bigwigs; A statue that urinates 24/7, just to name a few. But if murals, politics and local landmarks isn’t your scene, and if none of the others listed don’t take your fancy, then hell, maybe Brussels isn’t for you! If I had you at beer? Then you should probably read on.

Eat: Fin De Siecle

Delicious Pork Shin.

Delicious Pork Shin.

Waiting in line for a meal isn’t a bad thing if the meal itself was worth the wait. This restaurant certainly delivered. Queued out the door and apparently busy every night of the week, there is nothing flashy about Fin De Siecle. But for what it lacks in style, it makes up for with bundles of charm, character, atmosphere and incredibly unpretentious but delicious Belgian cuisine. Popular with locals and tourists alike, the queue was relentless during our whole stay (no reservations folks) but don’t fret – you’ll be well looked after. The staff are fantastic: hurrying here and up and down and there. The menu is chalked in French, so you may want to save your blushes (and your servers time) by brushing up a little on the language before you arrive. Don’t expect to pay any more than 15 to 20 Euros for a meal and you should probably skip lunch that day as the portion sizes are generous to say the least. Fantastic.

Tripadvisor Reviews.

Sleep: NH Hotel Du Grand Sablon

Du Grand Sablon

Du Grand Sablon

Situated in the scenic Place Du Grand Sablon ( a charming little area, dotted with art galleries) you can’t go too wrong with this hotel. The reviews are mixed (as is the case with most hotels) but as I understand it, they come mostly about the dated rooms. My experience? Great. Nothing more; Nothing less.

Our room (on the 4th floor) was bright, clean and modern. One of the best I’ve slept in. The location is DSCF6121excellent: just up the hill from Grand Place, which is around a ten minute walk away. The breakfast was superb with plenty to choose from and of a high quality. The wi-fi was free but slow. So, so, slow. Overall, the hotel was great value for money. In fact, our stay was an absolute steal at £230* for four nights. Merely looking for a central place to crash, I was quietly pleased with my choice. Du Grand Sablon more than exceeded my expectations. Green? Not my colour but hey, I’ll roll with it.

*Lastminute.com Standard double room with breakfast. City tax not included.

Tripadvisor Reviews.

Go: Grand Place

Town Hall, Grand Place

Town Hall, Grand Place

Grand Place (which should be pronounced in a more alluring accent than mine) is the main square/hub in the centre of Brussels where you’ll find an abundance of restaurants, chocolatiers, bars and shops as well as some stunning architecture such as the town hall. There is many a tourist trap to be found around these parts, so some common sense is needed: don’t be ushered into restaurants. Shop around for your chocolate and be aware that prices are hiked up here. However, treat Grand Place as your base to explore elsewhere. There are some amazing restaurants and bars in the surrounding areas that are worth checking out. Brussels is a safe city so you should feel at ease venturing out the centre.

Drink: Cantillon Brewery

The Bar

The Bar

DSCF6008Unassuming and nestled just off a quiet street, Cantillon Brewery is quite easy to miss. Even standing outside peering in, you will still be unsure to what it is you are looking at. Since 1900, Cantillon has been brewing beer in this building and is still a working brewery today, maintaining it’s traditional methods. But I don’t need to google that fact, as the proud and friendly workers, (I say workers as there are no tour guides and you will be making your own way around) proudly state this to you upon entry and this information will be etched into your memory forever. Once your interest has peaked, you will be provided with two glasses of beer: a bitter and a kriek (cherry). And a warm metallic stove to huddle around. The beer is Sharp, bitter and clean and will be unlike any you have tasted nor will ever taste. A small brewery with a big heart, Cantillon is an ideal rainy afternoon activity but deserves much more respect than that. Six Euros will get you a self-guided tour and samples of their beer but you are likely to stay to sample more – there is plenty on tap! Check it out.

Visit: Bruge

Historic Bruge

Historic Bruge

Only an hour from Brussels by train, you would be foolish not to visit Bruge. Okay, so I’m cheating here, but if you can spare a day, it certainly would be worth your while. Allow yourself to be swept along with the sea of tourists, frantically snapping through cobbled back roads, Gothic cathedrals and winding canals. Don’t bother with the locals as you will have trouble finding them. Once your patience is wafer thin, enjoy the scenic stroll back to the station – the trains back are frequent.

Not selling Bruge for you?

In all seriousness, it is a beautiful city even listed as a world heritage site. Despite it’s popularity, there is a little peace of privacy to be had for everyone who visits. Simply get lost and see where the day takes you. Strangely, Bruge feels somewhat peaceful, yet it is incredibly busy with foot traffic. An unlikely combination but it works.

There you go: Five tips to get you started.

Have you been to Brussels? Any recommendations? Feel free to share by dropping me a comment below.


Glass Collecting: 8 Tools to Help You Survive Happy Hour.

The Exchange Hotel, Brisbane, Australia.

The Exchange Hotel, Brisbane, Australia.

Traveling the East Coast of Australia? Looking for work to fund onward travel? Enjoy cleaning up after drunk, drugged and dumb hipsters?

If you answered yes to all three of these questions, I have just the job for you!

Whilst living in Brisbane I worked at a night club, mostly as a waiter during sociable hours. To bump up my wage, I asked to do extra hours at the weekends, picking up glasses after my shift until the very small hours. As you can imagine, this kind of work is monotonous, soul-destroying and incredibly aggravating at times. But hey, it pays and if you need the cash, this can be a good little earner. Based purely on my experience, here are some tips to get you through happy hour. From sick to semen, I have it covered (figuratively of course.)

The Mop

Your induction will consist of a brief introduction of the tools you will need before going into battle. The first of which is the mop –  a 153classic time waster. Some girl has spewed all over the walls in the toilet? Take a break and go for a cigarette, as you’re going to need the fresh air before entering the stench pit. You know what awaits you and the only thing that will change between now and then, is the colour of her shoes and her level of dignity – yours diminished as soon as you signed up for the job. When you finally do arrive, usher drunks out of the cubicle like it’s a crime scene. Do not by any means interact with the culprit. She will have no remorse for her actions and tell you to leave  – which will anger you to no end – and she may be full of disease. Best form of action? Remind yourself at that moment why you need the money and get the cleaning over with as quickly as humanly possible.

Beside practical use, the mop can be used as a deterrent when cornered by jocks and hipsters. You will need to master two skills: The jab and the swing. When asked “Which part of Ireland are you from?” for the 10th time that evening, swing for his thick rimmed shades – he’s inside, it’s dark outside and they look fucking stupid anyway. Then follow-up with a straight jab to the voice box. That will protect your ears from his horribly bad accent.

The Sweeper

The sweeper consists of two items: a long-handled brush and a long-handled pan, both of which are designed to collect everything from cigarette butts to used condoms. At peak times, the sweeper may also be accompanied by a radio. This is to inform you of any breakages on the dance floor, (glass that is not noses) however at times you may feel somewhat patronized by the radio. The sign of a good ‘glassy’, (yes, this is what you will be called) is the ability to hear the sound of glass smashing from anywhere in the club, even over the load obnoxious reggaeton and electro. With practice, you will make it there in time to see some 18-year-old with skinny jeans and a vest, get tackled to the ground by the door staff for not doing much of anything. The entertainment value here is high, so it pays to be alert. Once you have followed the ruckus out the door, go for another cigarette before sweeping up the glass. By this point, nobody cares what you are doing, and neither do you.

Later, try heading out side to sweep. This will give you the opportunity to chat to the attractive door girl, tell the security about how much you hate your job and waste a good twenty minutes.

Top tip when actually sweeping: try using the side of the brush to knock in some butts. It creates more of a challenge and at times the odd butt will jump into the pan satisfyingly.

The Damp Cloth

138Similar to the mop, however the risk of coming in contact with bodily fluids is greater. If for any reason your cloth becomes dry during the evening, you may go behind the bar to damp it. This will give you the chance to engage in two second conversations to whomever is working, but be warned – there is a high chance no one will know your name. You could also use this time to grab a glass of water, marvel at the talent standing at the bar and act like you should  be serving. Be as nonchalant as possible. You’re not serving, but they don’t have to know that. Soon enough money will be shoved in your face and you’ll get screamed at. Walk out and carry on with your shift.

Damp cloth top tip: try wiping tables clockwise. Then anti clockwise. Mix it up and get creative!

The Tray

A classic tool used to stack glasses and the only part of your job that requires any sort of skill level. There is only one practical way to carry the tray and that is above your head, using one hand. There are two reasons for this.

  • In a packed club, absolutely no one will get out-of-the-way for you. Trying to maneuver around with a heavy tray by your side is near impossible. Plus you will end up slamming into people (which can be justified at times.)
  • People will try to add glasses to your tray. Keeping it balanced over your head will prevent this. Your tray is like a game of Jenga: perfectly poised, balanced and only fun if  drink is involved.

Add to your collection and go wild. Stack them; Place them side to side. The fun to be had is endless!

The will to live

Not a physical tool but just as important. You are going to need this. The shifts are long and boring and everyone around you is unbearable, but try to look at the bigger picture. Remember, you too are an obnoxious idiot when you are out. Remember, you won’t be doing this for long. Remember, that you probably will have to wait in McDonald’s for an hour with the same people after your shift as the first bus home hasn’t started yet. Remember, even with the extra shifts, you still can’t afford a taxi to the suburbs.

Becoming a  struggle? Try these games during your next shift to kill some time.

  • The 60 second game: When doing a lap around the club keep an eye on the clock. Feel the momentary satisfaction when you start a lap on the minute and get back to the same spot exactly a minute later. Challenging and there are many factors that could hold you up. Example: Guy comes up and asks you where the nearest cash machine is. You have ten seconds to spare. What do you do? Personally, I would ignore him. I have better things to do such as  beating my personal best. Girl asks the same question? Take as long as you need.
  • Guess the next song game: A stab in the dark but since the club only plays the same four songs, your chances for success is reasonably high.
  • The cock block game: Occasionally, girls will talk to you to escape the clutches of the rapey guy on the dance floor. You’re sober and he’s an asshole. Make her laugh, and watch him stress. Leave before he beats you up. Challenging but dangerous.

If you are heading over to Australia on a working visa my advice to you is to not be too picky. Take what comes your way and have fun with it. An experience – good or bad – is an experience none the less, to which you’ll learn from regard less. If you are willing to work all night and looking for a short term cash fix, glass collecting is at least an option, that – given the right club – could pay a decent wage.

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