It started off rough as the art gallery across the street was closed for a private event, fortunately my hostel did serve coffee but alas no croissant.
Hard life if coffee is your biggest concern of the day.
I can only imagine what people are thinking when they see me: flip flops, raincoat zipped to the top, which I had to do as I wasn’t wearing a shirt.
This is your reality if you have to wash everything when it’s laundry day, you sort of resemble a creeper/flasher.
I check out to explore lunch options and again run into a predominantly Muslim area, but it seems more liberal, there are more Belgium shops, such as full butcher shop, modern clothing stores for ladies and a cinema.
Figure I may as well check out the schwarma spot the Brits kept mentioning.
Wow they had some of the best roasted chicken that came with curry gravy and a salad. Cheap too as that plate was 5€.
I’d scoped out trains and there was one every hour to Bruges, Antwerp, Ghent, even Amsterdam was very close.
It didn’t take too long to walk to the metro station, passing by churches, even street performers who turned out to actually be peddlers for a new soft drink. At least they gave out free samples of this beverage after their routine.
I wander into the station just as drops of rain begin to fall.
A guy stops me and asks me if I need help. He has a badge around his neck indicating he is a student apprentice with the rail.
He pointed to an open booth and told me I could just catch the next train, leaving in 15 minutes, then pointed to stairs leading to my track! I was all set.
I passed by more military guys with weapons on the platform. I must say, you do not feel safer surrounded by guns. If anything the threat is more real.
I slide into a seat in a very nice compartment and watch the city pass by as it rains.
Belgium countryside is very nice and yes, I did see windmills off in the distance.
An hour later I’m in Bruges.
Yes indeed I’ve seen the movie and the city is as pretty as you see in the film.
Narrow, cobble stone streets, with very old buildings but with large gardens interspersed.
The city is surrounded by a river, as are all other great cities.
There isn’t much of a metro system, buses mostly are what I see on a half hour walk to my my hostel.
I dump my items onto my bed and search for activities. I’m the only person in the room but not for long.
Several failed attempts at the door card reader and 3 young girls walk into the room.
They are from Spain on holiday and I’d guess they are just out of high school, maybe 19 years old or less. I feel a bit odd and a lot older. It’s ok, I’m just sleeping here.
We chat a few moments about Spain, but then their phones take over and they all laugh and look at a pic, probably a snapchat.
I locate the route to downtown and walk that way.
There is a main square with a beautiful cathedral as the main attraction.
Food and drink joints line the side of city center with a large statue in the middle.
Horses line up awaiting riders as the city is small enough to see entirely via the original mode of transportation.
I’m hunting for the narrowest street in town that leads to a small pub that makes a beer you can only get there: de Garre.
The alley is the size of a door with a small sign but little else indicating it’s a path.
The narrow walkway opens up with trees and courtyard. Seems people live on top of the shops that are on ground level and this is their balcony view.
Through a wooden door leads to Bar de Garre and its tiny. Perhaps 5 tables, no seats at the bar, wood stairs to the left.
Bartender tells me the next 2 floors look exactly the same and points to an empty table in a corner. I order a dark Belgium beer and sit down.
Beer is delivered in a goblet with a bowl filled with pieces of house made cheese, a toothpick is the only accoutrement. I feel fancy.
After half a beer a local joins me, asking in German if seat is taken. I nod, extend an open palm and reply, ‘Bitte.’ He has a German paper under his arm is how I knew what to say. He spreads out his paper, ‘Danke,’ and that’s the last time we spoke.
I finally get a beir de Garre and its good, light color but a heavy 10% ABV, as was the first beer I had. You don’t taste the alcohol though, it’s just good.
The restrooms are up narrow stairs and I encounter my first euro trough, just like peeing on a wall, a stream of water trickles down rinsing the wall.
It’s getting late and looks like rain again so I head to the hostel. I don’t quite make it before rain starts so I’m a bit wet as I enter.
When I checked in, they had a beer deal on 5 drafts they mark off on a card. This way you could try beer styles from around the country as well as a local option.
I get one and wait out the rain. Still raining, so check off another.
There is a Nepalese place across the street so I pick up momo dumplings, and bring them back to the hostel as its full house in the restaurant.
The dumplings are very good, spicy. Lamb meat ground with veggies and spices.
Once again I’m trapped due to rain so I check off beers on my card.
I sit outside so I can watch it rain and there is a player working on this beautiful Spanish girl. It’s so funny that the guys next to me make some comments so I did, too.
Dude was going hard, telling her where in Belgium to go, but don’t go to Antwerp, he lives there and he had to get out it wasn’t too safe.
After they leave I chat with some French guys about Lyon and soccer. Always futbol, the best way to get to know someone in the EU.
One very casually pulls out a small sack of tobacco and begins to roll a smoke, then another breaks up bits of hash into it before he rolls.
I’m still shocked at how casual things like this are over here as hostels will kick you out for drugs, but I suspect grass isn’t considered a drug, anymore than beer, alcohol.
Rain lightly falls and we all watch for a long time in silence.
I bid them farewell and head to the room, a fine day in Bruges.
Beer: Gluck pils
Song: Stand High Patrol Automatic Attack