The day that the term ended, three of us headed to Brussels, Belgium for a long weekend. We had heard that Brussels had one of the best Christmas markets in all of Europe and we had to be to Hannover by that following Monday night, so it seemed like the perfect pit stop.
We took three trains to get there and it only cost $10 more for each of us to ride first class. BEST DECISION EVER. It was the most relaxing few hours. Highly recommend. We stayed a bit out of the city (accidentally), so once we got all settled we took the train back into the center for dinner. We wandered around and ended up in the main square. Music started blaring and all of the buildings surrounding us had a light show displayed on them. We ordered some drinks and sat outside enjoying the magic that was happening around us. By the time we left we had seen it multiple times and memorized it all. We loved it. For sure a highlight!
Saturday & Sunday were both pretty rainy, so we had slow mornings and quick visits into the city. I didn't mind the way everything panned out since it had been so much go-go-go before leaving for break. All of the people time was catching up with my *very* introverted self and I appreciated the down time.
Overall Brussels was not at all what I expected it to be. I had no idea that it was a country of three languages: Dutch, German & French. This created a really chaotic and fast-paced feel. With three cultures coming together to make up one city, it was unlike any city I had been to before. It's somewhere I will want to see again for sure.
If you head to Brussels at all, make sure to eat at Rachel's. It's a bagel & burger place that we wandered past and had to stop at. It was probably the best meal of my like!
One of the staff members from Bodenseehof leads a trip up to Hannover every Christmas for a week to volunteer with Christmas in the City. It's a ministry that works with those who are primarily addicts, but also the homeless population of Hannover. My church in middle school had a ministry that worked with the Salvation Army on Friday nights bringing a hot meal, warm clothes & the love of Jesus to those on the streets of Minneapolis. It was something I was so passionate about when I was involved in it, but since then there haven't been any opportunities to do anything like that. When I heard about this I jumped at it! I was looking forward to rekindling that passion I once had.
It was an extremely heavy and moving time spent there. I volunteered Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. On Thursday there were some personal things that happened and I stayed back for the rest of the time, but getting to see the city of Hannover was a bright spot in all of the hard that was going on. It is so wonderful to see that there are so many people dedicated to loving on those who live in so much darkness and shame. There is hope for all of us, but some need to be told more than others do for it to really sink in. I was grateful to witness this ministry in Hannover.
We were there until bright and early on Sunday morning & headed out for our next adventures.