Leuven.

It was a rainy day at work mid-May that I received an exciting text from my brother:

What are you doing weekend of 3rd June? Want to come to Leuven? It is supposed to be very pretty.

Two minutes and a quick Google of Leuven later (Geography was never my strong point), and my mind was made. I was going to Leuven, home of the famous university and Stella Artois, for a weekend away from home.

So my brother was actually in Leuven for work, attending a conference as part of his big EU-funded Physics project (I couldn’t give you any more detail if I wanted to), but decided to turn it into a mini-break by staying on for a couple of days with B and I. We stayed in a  cute little Airbnb, walked the streets by day and ate delicious food by night.

My brother is a wise old soul and he was right in that Leuven is actually very very pretty. It’s not shockingly different from the other Belgian/Dutch towns that I’ve visited in that it’s little cobbled streets and tall, narrow buildings painted in colours you’d never normally expect to see, but there’s something endearing about it all the same. Packed to the brim with students, student bars and student prices – not to mention a good helping of parks and green spaces – Leuven is a lot more casual than say, Bruges. It’s Flemish-speaking so our limited knowledge of Dutch came in handy, and prices were certainly lower than they are in nearby Brussels.

But that’s not to say we didn’t eat like kings. We stopped for lunch at the cleverly named Würst Haute Dogs because I bloody love a good old food-based pun. I opened for the Bellucci, a hot dog topped with parmesan, pesto, bacon, rocket and tomato. Sounds weird, tasted awesome. Nicely presented in a little box, it was certainly the most well-presented sausage I’ve ever eaten – normally I’m much more of the stick-it-in-your-gob-and-be-quiet persuasion, but this one actually survived long enough in the open for me to take a picture. Fancy. In the evening we booked a table at Sticky Fingers, an American-themed joint that we’d tried to go to the night before only for it to be fully booked up. Recently opened, it seems that Sticky Fingers has taken the local area by storm and I can certainly see why. We started with some of the best fried chicken I think I’ve ever eaten (and I’ve certainly tried my fair share), followed up with ribs and more chicken. It was delicious and gobbled down to no regrets.

Perhaps the most memorable moment of the weekend was when we stopped for a drink in the middle of the main square in Leuven, which is bordered by bar after bar after bar. Only minutes after sitting down and ordering, a storm broke out over Leuven. Rain pummelled the umbrella we were sitting under as thunder clapped right over our heads and lightning illuminated the night sky over the Cathedral. If we’d been in a film we’d have been twirling in the square and realising how great youth is and to be reckless. As it was, we merely went ‘oh this is nice!’ and sipped our wine, as B and my brother took it in turns to explain precisely how lightning works. That’s what I get for going away with a pair of physicists, I guess.

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