My first year of university finally has finally come to a close — the hot and humid D.C. weather was drowning me, and I was ready for a European adventure! I wasn’t looking for anything specific while traveling, but I knew I needed to switch up my routine of political frat guys and try something exciting, so I took Tinder to Europe with me. Hopeful that my matches would be as thrilling as my abroad experience, I started checking out my options.
Saturday, 10:34 p.m.
It’s my first free weekend in Brussels, so my friends and I make our way to Delirium, a popular bar downtown. I open Tinder on the trek there and match with a few guys. One of them is actually a bartender at Delirium! And he happens to be working.
Saturday, 10:44 p.m.
We head into the tap house, hoping we can score some free beers. I scan the bar for my beautiful bartender, and he finally catches my eye. He waves us over and pours us a round of beers on the house. Thank you, Tinder gods. We start with some normal small talk, and I find out he studies at the same university as I do. His shift isn’t over until 2 a.m., but he says he’ll message me later. My friends and I bounce in and out of a few bars and end up at a club. I keep Liking and Noping at the bar, addicted to the attention I’m getting, and end up matching with another guy who turns out to be the DJ. I’m not sure where my good luck is coming from, but I’m not complaining. He waves me behind the booth and puts his headphones on me, and we start dancing. I love Brussels.
Sunday, 3:00 a.m.
I get a message from my bartender, but I’m exhausted. I feel bad for leaving him on read, but I have a research paper to write tomorrow, so I need to amp up the study part of my study abroad adventures.
Monday, 1:23 p.m.
I’m sitting in class bored out of my mind until I get a message from my bartender asking where I went on Saturday. I apologize for my disappearance and blame schoolwork. We made small talk about the class I’m taking and his brutal university and work schedule. He asks me when my lunch break is and tells me he’s on campus. How convenient.
Tuesday, 2:39 p.m.
I meet the bartender at a cafe on campus and find him with two coffees and pizza. Swoon. I sit down and we have a wonderful conversation about the upcoming European Parliament elections. Intelligent, a bartender, and he bought me lunch — this man knows the way to my heart. Unfortunately, I have to get back to class, but I agree to return to Delirium before I leave town.
Wednesday, 6:53 p.m.
I wake up to a “bonjour ma belle” text from my bartender. I wish I was in Brussels for more than a month. Then maybe we could make something out of this summer fling. I ask about his plans for the night, and he responds with “you.” He wants to come over, but there’s a strict no overnight guest policy for the homestay. We work out the logistics and plan to meet in Stokkel, the city’s metro. I basically run to meet him, and he greets me with a bottle of rose. We head to his apartment. It feels weird to be out on a Wednesday night, but he’s worth it.
His apartment is covered in plants and beautiful art. I can’t help but drool as we talk about his degree in environmental law and his dreams of working for the EU. I discover we both have class tomorrow, so I don’t waste anymore time. I lean in for a kiss. He responds passionately, and he knows *exactly* what he’s doing. I didn’t expect to stay later than 1 o’clock, but I don’t end up leaving until it is time for class on Thursday.
Friday, 12:02 a.m.
It’s the end of a painful week of class and walking tours, and my friends and I go to a karaoke bar. There’s a group of guys huddled around the stage, so I take to Tinder to see if I can find any of them. I think I match with a few of them, but I’m not sure until one of them messages me. He tells me to come to the karaoke bar, and I reply that I’m already there. I look at the group of guys until I find one scanning the room. We lock eyes, and his face breaks into a smile. My legs go weak. Damn. He’s beautiful. He walks over, and we talk until he asks me to sing a song with him on stage. My bold alter ego agrees, and he surprises me by choosing “Sweet Caroline.” As soon as the interlude starts playing, the room erupts. We dance the rest of the night away.
Saturday, 8:02 a.m.
I get a very early text from my bartender asking my plans for the day and I respond with “a pulsing hangover and at least four more hours of sleep.” He wants me to come to the bar that night, but unfortunately, I’m headed to Bruges for the next few days. He responds with a frowny face, and I’m pretty bummed too. That is until I get to Bruges.
Saturday, 1:44 p.m.
There are lots of touristy bars and restaurants to visit in Bruges, but I want to immerse myself in Belgian culture, specifically Belgian beer. My friends and I walk through the Markt, the village square, and past the Basilica of the Holy Blood to find a festival and market fair. Score!
My Tinder deck here isn’t as lively as I hoped. Granted, it’s only 3 o’clock in the afternoon when we get into the village, but I want to meet someone new! I’m sitting outside at a café tap house when I spy one of my matches from Brussels walking past. I frantically scroll through my matches to see if it’s really him. I’m dumbfounded when he comes out with two drinks and pulls up a chair right next to me. Very forward, but I’m not opposed. He tells me he lives in Bruges but has family in Brussels and visits very often.
He interacts with my friends, and we fall into a comfortable conversation about the historical significance of Bruges and its role as the capital of West Flanders. He then abruptly announces he has to leave. He kisses me on both cheeks, a Belgian custom I am finally used to, and I watch him walk away. He turns toward a different café down the street, and I see him sit down with another girl. I guess I can’t be mad, but he could’ve met her outside my line of sight. Oh, well. Bruges has the best beer and the dumbest boys.
Saturday 7:23 pm
I get a message from my bartender complimenting my ability to study whilst on an abroad trip. I tell him I’ll see him this weekend and then I get ready to meet some friends. The night is young, and I’m ready for time with my girls.
Overall, this weeklong boy, beer, and chocolate tour throughout Belgium was extraordinary. I learned so many new things and met a variety of people. I wish I didn’t have to leave in two weeks, but c’est la vie!