i am now in brugges, belgium and it is absolutely awesome. the city is a bit touristy, but it’s incredibly beautiful. there are canals running throughout the town (a little like venice), gothic and medieval buildings everywhere, and cobblestone streets underfoot. the folks are very friendly so far, too. while i was waiting for my hostel bus outside the train station, a young belgian computer geek named bram overhead me asking about the hostel and offered to show me where it was (he was taking the bus there, as well). we began chatting, and as he was telling me about the great belgian beer, he stopped and said “wait a minute,” dug in his backpack, and pulled out a bottle. “here,” he said, “this is the best stuff.” yes, apparently the belgians are so found of their beer that they carry it with them whereever they go.
i read that the bruggians (or whatever they’re called) claim to have invented french fries (“frites” over here), as well. for those of you who know how much i love french fries, you know that if this little bit of trivia is true, it means i consider brugges to be the most advanced and important civilization to ever exist. it’s unfortunate that bram did not also pull out a handful of tasty frites, too. after leaving paris yesterday, i arrived in luxembourg. it was very beautiful, too — the ruins of a huge 10th century fortress/castle run throughout a huge river valley, and there are extremely high bridges everywhere. quite stunning. i had dinner at a french/italian restaurant (sure, i just had pizza…but it was french/italian/luxumbourgian pizza, damn it) in the huge plaza area that was just filled with outdoor seating for dozens upon dozens of cafes, restaurants, bars, etc. very cool. there didn’t appear to be much else to check out in ol’ luxy, though, so i took off for brugges today around noon and arrived around 4pm. now i’d like to share some random things about my trip:
- i had to wait in the customs line at london’s heathrow airport for about an hour when i first arrived in europe. that kinda sucked, because i was all eager and excited to begin my european adventure by busting a backstroke down the thames or something…but by the time i got out of the airport, i just felt like taking a nap.
- i saw a guy who looked a lot like bob barker at a train station just outside of brussells. there has been no sign of chuck woolery’s european counterpart yet.
- i left my shampoo and soap in paris. i be stanky, but i bought some replacements here in brugges.
- when curtis and i were wandering through the bastille area of paris, we bought a bottle of cheap wine and drank it as we walked like a couple of young parissien hoodlums. wine is about the only thing you can get cheaply in paris.
- it’s been fun practicing my french in paris, luxumbourg, and belgium. however, i’ve discovered that my pronunciation and accent can be a little too good at times — after my intro phase (such as “bonjour! ou est la salle de baine?”), some of them think that i’m fluent, and begin rambling at about 475 words per second (i clocked ’em). that’s when i start to cry.
- traveling through a multilingual country like belgium is interesting because not only do i not understand a word anyone is saying, but i usually can’t even tell what language they’re speaking. further, i suspect that they frequently switch between languages (i can sometimes understand certain phrases and whatnot as french) and perhaps use some combination of the languages (a la “spanglish” in america). flemish, french, dutch, german, english…it’s all greek to me.
- internet access is getting increasingly expensive. this little entry is costing me approximately $2,200 american dollars.
- it was ungodly warm and humid in paris, and it is ungodly warm and humid here in brugges. i attribute this ungodly weather to my being an atheist.
i’ll write more later, but probably not until after i arrive in amsterdam (friday)….hopefully i’ll be able to find cheaper internet access there. the high rates here really cuts back on the amount of internet porn i can browse each day. cheers!