domingo, 17 de abril de 2011

Travel log - Europe - Day 6

Day 6 - Bruges

So this was our last of Belgium. Again, we would travel and Louis would stay home. But it was some practice for the rest of the trip, as we would then be on our own. We woke up early and had breakfast. He took us to the station and this time we bought the right (though not so cheap) ticket to Bruges.
We boarded and now we would not mistake the station. However, do you know when you think you are in the wrong place, but you cannot be really sure until someone comes and tells you that? So, we got on the train in the first class and, of course, our tickets were second. It was not deliberate, but the guy gently told us off and we headed for the place we belonged.
As soon as we arrived in the city, we bought a map and asked for some nice places to go. I guess after our experience in Antwerpen, Louis had decided not to do the planning with us (as we did only 3/11 of what he had planned). We started walking toward the city center and we fell in love with it just then. The weather was not so good, it was cold and wet, it snowed a bit, sometimes it looked like a drizzle. Later, when it was getting dark it also got foggy. It gave the city an atmosphere and we just loved it even more.
The streets were narrow and the buildings were short and made of apparent bricks. There were small bridges and canals. We visited one monastery and it was funny because there was a church there and it was empty. So even tough there was a sign of no pictures, Carol could take one. She told me, no one saw me anyway. I answered: God is watching. We laughed out loud. But she stopped with the pictures. And she is not even that religious.

After some walking more, we got hungry and we started the process of choosing a place to go. There were a bunch of small restaurants, and one nice thing we have there is the menu by the door so we could check the prices before entering. We selected one which was fancy but not expensive (most of them were like that). So we chose our dishes. I had some wine with mine but Carol didn’t because she thought some orange juice would come along with her dish. But in fact it was the dessert that was orange whatever... a kind of pudding. As the magnanimous person that I am, we shared my wine (OK, as Carol remembers it, she only had a drop of it). I ordered some chicken with a strange sauce. It had a lot of bones, which I don’t like so much. I thought it was fillet or a steak. Carol preferred beef, but the meat was hard and dry, in spite of the sauce. So the lunch was not a top one, but we had fun and it was a moment to get warm.

After that, we headed for some museums. The day was getting dark. We saw some stores, bought some chocolate and got to the museum of chocolate just 15 minutes before closing, so the guy didn’t let us in. We went to a museum which we knew would close later and although it was a bit expensive (10 euros), we had a lot of fun in the Museum of Salvador Dali.

Then we got to the main square and there was a street market there. Besides, there was a ice-skating place, and I told Carol I wanted to go. She told me she was not into it, but I childishly insisted, so I was going and she would stay outside taking pictures and all. I discovered it was very cheap to stay there for 1 hour. And that’s what I did. I put on the skates, and I didn’t bind them correctly. It was easy when they were a bit loose, but someone told me I could have an accident and I went for help in order to tighten the boots. After that, things got a bit rougher and they were removing the snow on the ice so I got more slippery. But the thing is it was my first time ice-skating (here in Sao Paulo you can find places to ice-skate indoors, but I had never had the opportunity of trying it) and I didn’t fall even once. I nearly did several times, but I managed to maintain my balance and avoid the fall. Meanwhile, Carol went for some shopping. She found a FNAC and she was paying 0,40 without complaining. But I guess she had what she wanted without having to pay (later, in the train station, the toilets were closed after 7pm, to our astonishment, and the restaurant inside there was charging double fee - that’s capitalism - but when we got out nobody was there to charge.) One interesting thing that happened is that I was wearing borrowed shoes and as soon as I left Belgium I would have to return them. So in Bruges, we found some shoe stores. I was going through some boots for snow and the saleswoman was very kind and gave me some options. When she discovered we were Brazilians, she got extra nice asking questions and the first one was ‘what are you doing here in such a cold weather if you have all the sun and hot back home?’ Well, my sweet lady, I wondered the same thing several times later. And she kept our shoes while we walked a bit more, so that we wouldn’t have to carry them around.
The way back was fine. A group of girls sittten across the aisle and who were probably American had to pay an extra charge of 50 euros each because they had the wrong tickets with them. Ours were correct so we just had to feel sorry for them.
When we got home we had dinner, and there were, among other things, reindeer meatballs. I had already tasted it, but Carol was not so comfortable tasting it, but she, as the real adventurer she is, did it without a frown.
We said goodbye to everyone as we would wake up at a not very humane hour to get to the airport (who had bought the tickets for so early a flight?). It was the time to give the gifts we had brought to everyone. We were not very sure on what to take and we took some simple things, we should have been more sophisticated, but we had no idea about anyone of them, so it was fair enough. The last memories we had there was Louis going upstairs with us and talking and talking like we used to do in Brazil, about the future, about the expectations of the rest of the trip. It was so nice. Packing and packing and of course I forgot my sneakers there.

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