I woke up to an empty room, the Spanish girls had already left.
Made it down for the free breakfast just in time to snag a bowl of cornflakes and coffee, a meal that was becoming my staple way to start the morning.
After my meal, I extended my stay at the hostel for one more night.
The receptionist smiled and said it happens all the time, most people stayed longer than they’d planned after walking around Bruges.
My new room was occupied by an older, bald man who greeted me enthusiastically.
He was from South Africa and was on holiday with his wife.
‘She’s in Germany with her parents and I’m driving around for a couple of weeks. Works out great, she sees her family, I see Europe!’
He is in search of an old Abby today, maybe the coast too if he has time. He zips up his jacket and leaves.
I hit the showers and note they are locker room style, four nozzles in a room, but it’s only me showering.
You’ve got to adapt to your situation at hostels. Most everyone will try to shower in the morning or early evening so just go at a different time, no wait or shower buddy.
Due to the rain I make reservations for my next couple stops: Ghent and Barcelona while having a beer in the hostel.
Had to tour the Delirium Brewery in Ghent and actually found a hostel that provides a shuttle to the brewery.
Soon the rain stops and I’m able to get outside.
I grabbed my bottle of Westvleteren from the fridge and walk to the river nearby.
I locate a bench and pop my bottle of supposedly of the world’s best beer. Ok so maybe; one of hardest to procure beers for sure.
It was very good, like drinking sweet raisins is closest comparison flavor. This is a Belgium Quad, a beer style that I am not a huge fan of, as it is bit too sweet for me.
I realized that I didn’t have anyone to share with and it made me miss my friends.
Beer is a shared experience, one where you and friends get to talk about what you drank, flavors, similar beers, that sort of thing.
Today I shared the world’s best beer with ducks and swans. I lifted my bottle their way, but I don’t think they fully understood the magnitude of my toast.
I thought about my Peticolas Brewery friends and wished they were there to enjoy it with me. After each tour, we had a bottle share and tried many new brews while talking and laughing.
The city was surrounded by water and a tree covered path so one could walk or bike around the city easily, no cars.
I followed the path until I came to one of the original entrances, rumored to have the heart of an invader inside.
I saw no hearts on display but it was an excellent building, too small for modern life as the car lanes narrowed to 1 each direction under an archway. Bike and walking lanes to one side too.
It thundered and poured, I had to find a place to duck into and fortunately located a pub.
To get to this pub you have to walk down the wall o beers.
I’m just killing time while it rains. I get a beer and stand watching it rain.
Scanning the bar and what do I see, they are selling Westvleteren by the bottle for 15€!
A beer I’ve only read about and seen pics of for years I had encountered 2x in a day! I felt better knowing I paid less for the one I bought in Brussels.
After the rain, I’m now in search of the brewery of a beer I’d had at the hostel, de Halve Maan or Half Moon.
It took a couple tries to find the correct path, lots of construction in this little village.
Once I arrived it was too late for tours so I sat near the bar and eavesdropped on tourist conversations.
This is a cool spot: inside are old and new brewery equipment and a long, wooden bar while outside was a large open air patio, each table had an umbrella as it seems to always rain a bit.
As if on cue, it begins to sprinkle and the bartender makes the cry for last call. Might as well have one more.
I make my way back to the hostel via downtown, passed the beautiful square and cathedral.
Stopped to check out horse and carriages pass by. There’s something special about hearing the clomp clomp of hooves on cobblestone that makes Europe unique.
I pass by a fry place and decide it’s time for Belgium frites. Thick cut fries, covered in mayo or curry.
A plastic pitchfork accompanies the fries…so that’s how they eat them without hundreds of napkins!
Thing is the mayo overseas is a lot better, different from US may. I suspect using real ingredients plays a large role cause I wouldn’t use US mayo on fries.
I make it back to the hostel just as it begins to rain again so I hole up out back and watch the rain from the covered patio.
Many small groups of people move from table to table, drinking wine, beer or eating as soon as the rain stops.
Most everyone smokes here which is ok since we are outside. Many bars still allow smoking inside which is always strange.
They also roll their own cigarettes pulling out a small pouch of tobacco and filters. I’ve seen people roll while walking; expert level roller.
Right next door to the hostel is a joint called ‘Ribs and Beer.’ All you can eat ribs sound tempting but it’s expensive and I cannot splurge on food that costs the same as a room for the night.
I go back to the Nepalese spot across the street for lamb biryani, a rice dish. It’s not crowded so I pick a corner seat facing a TV with CNN on.
Tonight is a live speech by Obama and Dallas police chief David Brown regarding the police shootings there few days ago.
I lived only a couple of miles away from where the shootings went down in Dallas. I would have also likely been marching with the Black Lives Matter protesters.
Watching news or TV is a rare event for me and I wished it was a positive reason for viewing, but that wasn’t the case tonight.
I did swell up with pride, both men delivered excellent speeches, but I knew it didn’t do anything. Not even outlawing guns would stop killings, people can always get a gun, knife, whatever it takes.
I felt like crying for many reasons but held it in. Other countries don’t have this many shootings, why can’t the US change, is it more education, less religion? Hopeless musings.
Back at the hostel I sat outside and chatted with some people from France.
I brought up Lyon and they agreed it is a beautiful city, but they and everyone else, loved Paris the most.
It was an early night, I thought about home.
Beer: Brugse Zot
Song: K’s Choice Not an Addict