The Grand Place of Brussels

My second stop in Europe, was Brussels, Belgium. I took the Eurostar from Thameslink Station in London, to the Brussels Midi train station. On the train, I sat across from a very nice Dutch boy, named Lorenzo, also traveling alone. He was the equivalent of a sophomore in high school & he was on his way back to boarding school. We shared travel stories & before we knew it, we arrived in Brussels.

It would by my first European country where the primary language was not English, but Dutch & French. As far as Brussels Midi goes, there's little to no English signs & my first impression was not kind. Half of my attempts for assistance, ended in abruptly useless responses. Also because of the Brussels airport bombings that happened back in May, there was also the very obvious presence of Belgium soldiers, each patrolling with assault rifles. Eventually, I got my euros & a taxi to my hotel. I quickly dropped off my stuff & headed out in search of the Grand Place.

Have you been engulfed by something so beautiful, that you've forgotten to breath? That was me.

I walked from street to street with a map in hand, trying to make out the signs. Suddenly I turned a corner, looked up, and there it was! This massively breathtaking open space known as the Grand Place (or Grote Markt), bordered by buildings laced in gold. All my frustration from the train station disappeared & I just stood there. For a second, I forgot I had a camera. I just felt this warm sense of happiness & I wanted to take it in.


I had dinner at the Brussels Grill (red umbrellas), just outside of the Grand Place, along Rue du Marche aux Herbes.  I quickly learned that people were pretty big on fries (or frites) here, and always with a massive amount of sauce on them. Almost anything could be served with fritz, as a starch.

There is also a large array of Belgium chocolate shops & of course, Belgium waffle stands.


After 3 days in Brussels, I can say without a doubt, it's a beautiful city. Besides the Francization of Brussels, language wise, you can also find splashes of French inspired architecture throughout the city. Also, I learned that  as long as you got yourself to central Brussels, most of the great monuments, parks, and shopping centers,  were in walking distance of each other. It's a city truly filled of well preserved history! 

What a great linguistic transition to my next stop, France! Thanks for reading! Love, JEN

Exploring London

Going overseas without a data plan, is like learning to be human all over again. You're forced to put your phone down, (because let's face it, your phone is pretty boring without wifi),  and really take in your surroundings. That is, until you find free wifi to upload your Snaps.

London was my first stop, on my mini-trek across Western Europe.  During my flight, I sat next to a guy, also making his first trip to London. Unfortunately I didn't catch his name, but he was a mechanic at the BMW of Seattle, that had recently been temporarily laid off. He had been to Prague the year before & decided to take this opportunity to backpack Europe, at least until he ran out of money. I admired his courage. 


On the other hand, he probably thought my in-flight beauty routine & pre-landing make-up routine was pretty bizarre. 

After 9+ hours, I arrived at the London Gatwick airport. Immediately, it was like I was in London's unofficial race-walking competition. I've never seen people bustle so fast towards baggage claim & the trains (jacket not recommended). After grabbing myself some British pounds, the process to buy my Thameslink ticket & vistor Oyster pass, was extremely efficient. Very much, Go! Go! Go!  

After a 45 minute train ride & 15  minute walk later, I dropped off my bags at the hotel. With my camera & tripod, I headed out to explore the city.

American media has always forced-fed me an idea of what being in London would be like, but it's quite different seeing it for yourself. It's like being fed ____ Over the next few days, these are my thoughts.


You can't just walk up to the gaurds at buckingham palace

Friends & Sherlock totally lied to me. The guards themselves were pretty far behind the gates, and in case you're wondering, yes I saw them move. One of them was doing a very interesting march, whilst the other sneezed, twice. If you're going to go here, I recommend going early. By noon, hordes of people from tour buses arrive with their sea of self-sticks, making pictures a lot harder after that. 

public transportation here makes Seattle look like a bunch of stubbornly demented turtles

#Truth. With a city & underground tube map in hand, the public transport was extremely easy & cheap to navigate. By the end of my 3rd day, I had barely used 15 pounds (or about $19.50 USD). A single one-way bus ride in Seattle, could cost me $2.50-$3.50. Even then, you were probably still a 30 minute walk from your actual destination. Not much incentive. In London though, as long as you knew your destination, you were set. There were tube maps at every corner, along with a breakdown of the stops east or westbound. Not to mention, if you missed a carriage, not to worry! Another one was sure to arrive within 3 minutes or less. In Seattle, if you missed a bus, you could wait up to 30 minutes. With the cost & efficiency, it's no wonder so many people used it. Plus with all the stairs, I also saw a surprising lack of obese people. America take note.


Top by Rails (here) // Pants from Old Navy (similar here) // BAg by Tory Burch (here) // Boots by Alexander Wang (here)

For the rest of my time in London, I found myself straying away from my touristy crowds & walking up and down the Thames. Of course, I still did some night photography, with London's biggest attractions, but I also found a miniature carnival with froyo & street music. 

London has definitely stolen my heart. It's hard to say, since I've only been to a few countries outside the states, but I could really see myself living here one day. 4 days flew by & I already can't wait to come back. It's just so beautiful, I don't think I could ever get bored of photographing this city. It'll just have to wait until next time. Now, onto Brussels! - JEN

FOLLOW my Journey on snapchat @injenslife

Off to Europe

Hey loves! Today I'm headed off to Europe! 

I can't believe I finally get to say that! It's been a years worth of planning and it feels absolutely surreal to me, that this day has finally come! Mind you, while I do travel pretty often (especially this year), this will my first time flying over seas, on my own. It didn't really hit me, what I had gotten myself into, until I landed for my layover in Vancouver, Canada & made my way through customs. This is really happening.

β€œIt has become ever clear to me that if I had spent my life avoiding any and all potential risks, I would have missed doing most of the things that have comprised the best years of my life.” - Phoebe Snetsinger

 This trip means to me more than my words can describe. I've wanted to travel the world ever since I was little and I looked out of an airplane window for the first time. As you grow up though, I've learned that life tends to give you an endless list of "tasks," that sidetrack you from those childhood dreams. Society reiterates to you, to play it safe, go to school & work your life away. As a woman, societal norms tell you to get married, have kids, work, retire.  Frankly, I've never fancied the idea of living my life by the norms. It's not that I don't want those things, but with all that alone, I would be bored out of my mind. I want, and need, more. 

Well... I've put in my time, gone to school, worked a ridiculous amount of hours (which my coworkers can attest to), and now it's time to do this for me. Today, I create the life I've always imagined. Anyhow, enough talk. I'm about to board. See you tomorrow in London! - JEN

Follow along on my travels on my Instagram & Snapchat: @InJensLife

Shirtdress shown by Topshop