Sunday, March 17, 2013

Brussels!

About a week ago I went to visit the European parliament with 9 students.  It was an awesome trip.  I think my favorite part was spending more time with the students, normally I see them in class and that is it.  They are all really nice and have bright futures in front of them.  I have the best job in the world.  The EU has a PR program that involves bringing EU citizens to visit the parliament, so the EU paid for the trip.  This was a great opportunity for the students, I don't think any of them had been to Brussels before.  I hadn't been to the European parliament for about 7 years since my internship ended.


Most of the other people on the trip were journalists, they were all very nice.  They were from all over Estonia. 


I kind of feel bad that I didn't get a group picture of all of our students, here are 5 of the 9.  In the background you can almost see the Estonian flag, too bad the wind wasn't blowing.  It is the one in the middle, you can kind of see a white stripe.

 
Triina-Liis is used to work at a travel agency and helped me with tickets to the US.  When I found out she wanted to study IR I told her she should come to Tallinn University and she did!  The best thing is that she said recently that she made the right choice and that there are lots of opportunities here (like a trip to the European parliament I suppose!)


The European parliament is huge, this is a model of it all.  The first wall was under construction still when I was an intern here.  

 

The trip was sponsored by Tunne Kelam, so we got to go see his office and listen to him speak.  He is one of my favorite people all time!  He is a classic example of a statesman, not a politician.  When I was an intern in his office I was really impressed by his calm manner, he would never get mad at people, even if there was a reason to. He does a great job representing Estonia.


 This is me in the gift shop by the post cards

 They had an amazing simulation game at the 'parliamentarium'. It was really neat.  Everyone was a member of the parliament and had their own smart phone to guide them through the simulation.  I was a member from Belgium from the green party.  It was all very high tech and really cool. 

 

We got to see the city a little bit, and of course that means seeing the famous statue of the little boy peeing.  (insert bathroom joke here)

 
 This was a really nice palace, I can't remember which one though. 

We went to the Estonian representation to the EU, it was also cool.  The Estonian ambassador to the EU talked and it was really interesting.  There was a lot of talk about the Euro crisis.  


 
 Some more of the students in front of the Estonian and EU flags

 

 We went to a flea market that was pretty interesting.  In Tallinn a market is pretty organized with booths, but here people just put their stuff down on blankets and that was it.  There were some cool things here but for the most part it was just super crappy junk. 

The flea market was in a Congo part of town (at least I think) this Congo store was close by.  It had some pretty cool stuff.  

 
 Kaja and Kadri did a great job organizing the trip for us!  Kadri was my old boss when I did the internship, she is great. 


Of course one of the highlights of the trip was the food.  The most famous dish in Brussels is muscles and french fries!  I never tried it when I did an internship, but it was on the menu so I thought why not!  It was slimy, yet satisfying

 
 We went to the chocolate and cocoa museum, it was small but awesome.  This guy gave us a demonstration on how they make chocolate.  Too bad his eyes were closed.  I don't think he will ever find this blog, so it is ok.  That is a 5 kg brick of chocolate in his hand.

 This is in the chocolate museum

 This Greek restaurant had the most amazing Hawaiian pitta sandwich.  It had donor kebab style meat with this fantastic cheese sauce and pineapple.  Man I really loved that sandwich.  Definitely  one of the best things that has ever happened to my mouth. 


And of course the chocolate stores are beautiful, always a must.  Brussels is an awesome place and it was an awesome trip.  Hopefully I'll get to go again soon!

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