domingo, 10 de abril de 2011

Travel log - Europe - Day 5

Day 5 Namur and Louvain

We woke up and I realized something curious during breakfast. The other days there was one thing I could not identify bothering me during this meal and when i saw what there was to eat I finally understood: the previous breakfasts had no salted ingredients. They normally have sweet breads and cookies with jams and chocolate. And for me if there is no rotisserie, there is no breakfast. Cheese, ham, salted butter are a must. I don’t know if this is something Brazilian, but I got so happy to have bread with ham and cheese.
So, we got in the car and set off for a different city which would be our destination: Namur. It is a city not so far from Brussels again, but different from the others, it was in the French-speaking part of Belgium. However, the city itself was not our final destination. We had to pick up our friend’s girlfriend, somewhere near the city and we would have lunch with his grandmother.
Besides his girlfriend, his brother was going with us. It was a sweet surprise to discover he was not what we imagined. By what Louis had told us in Brazil, we had an image of his brother as a too serious person, a kind of suit-and-tie yuppy, who would barely talk to us. But he was so nice and talked about everything. After that day, we felt sad we didn’t have more time to spend with him.
So the first place we went to was a fortress from where we could see the whole town. The snow was high and it gave us ideas and we started playing with it but Louis - with his 13-year-old spirit made poor Sara almost roll in the snow and she got really wet.

We got to grandma’s house and the house was very interesting - old architecture, a lot of pictures and small details, it seemed we had entered another century. She was a very sweet old lady, she even resembled a little Queen Elizabeth. And there were a lot of rituals we had to follow, she told us where each should sit when we got to the table and some people were lucky to eat watching the river just outside the window.

Carol and I were not the lucky ones, as we sat back to the windows. Something interesting was that whatever was served there was grown in their gardens and the meat had been hunted. It was the first time I tasted pheasant. During lunch there was a funny moment because they were talking about history and they asked me to tell them in French some details about D. Pedro II. I had no idea because it had been more than 10 years I had studied and read about Brazilian Imperial history. After lunch, we went to the living room and not even the coffee they served helped Carol not doze off while they were going on and on in French.
After leaving Namur, we set off to another city on the way back to Brussels. It was a special place beacuse it was the city where our friends study. It’s called Louvain la neuve.

It was built in the 70s after a kind of dissent that teh French speaking people wanted to have classes in French but the university is in a Dutch speaking place so these Franco-Belgians went for it and had their own university city. It was quite different from a university city, but it was just lovely. The buildings were low and the apartments seemed small but cozy. We tried to visit a museum that there is there - a comics museum - but it was closed. There were some stores, we spent some time in a comics store. We also got to know the library of Engineering and Math. It was getting colder and colder so we decided to go home. We were invited to a party by one of Sara’s friends and it would be in a bar. Carol was not in the mood of going and I wanted to stay and talk more to Felix, but we felt it would be very impolite of us not to go. we had some hours for showering and resting. And it was time for another movie. This time it was Corpse Bride - but again, it was never completely watched in the middle of it we had to stop because it was time to go. So we went. When we got there, it was a bar where there was a conveyor belt which would continuously keep bringing dishes. There was a big menu with color codes on the wall and you would check out the dish you want, just grab it out of the belt and remove the plastic transparent lid and have fun eating it. After some time we were told we should pay by each dish we had. I learned that the bad way. But, at the end, they had some kind of discount and we paid less than we were supposed to. There were some interesting people that night but most of them were not into talking to us, so we were having fun ourselves. One of the guys was really messy and did a lot of stupid things, we didn’t know if he was just a jerk or if he was trying to get the attention. Afterwards, we walked a bit and ended up in a bar with some of the people who were there with us. I had a chance to have a different type of beer which came in a quite exotic glass.

And I talked to Sara in French for about half an hour. Quite challenging. Carol had stuck to English and she made some new friends as we sat far from each other. She would only speak non-stop French as soon as we set foot in Berlin, but this is another story. We still would have our last day of Belgium. And what a day.

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