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Erasmus Shenanigans "Not all those who wander are lost"

Bruges Day Trip

BELGIUM | Monday, 6 February 2017 | Views [448] | Comments [2]

Bruges (29th Dec 2016) 

It was a crisp Thursday morning when Gleicy and I walked from our hostel to Brussels Central Station. We were relaxed and chatting when a man walking in the opposite direction to us, greeted us with a 'Bonjour'. We replied simultaneously with badly accented 'Bonjours' when he cheerfully turned around and said in English 'That was a good try!'. This made me giggle for a while until I realized after 6 years of French lessons I couldn't even enunciate 'Bonjour'. Hey, learning a new language has never been and will never be my forte. So, why were we heading towards the train station? A friend had told Gleicy that Bruges was 100% worth visiting if we were going to Belgium, even more so than the capital itself. This was going to be a day trip because Bruges was only 2 hours away by train and was a relatively small city. We were also lucky enough to get our hands on 10 student holiday tickets, one of the perks of travelling in the winter. Everything seemed so perfect. 

We arrived in Bruges and it was cold. Not just your regular, wear a woolly hat and scarf and you'll be fine kind of cold. Oh no, it was a bone-chilling, can't feel my fingers and toes kind of cold. I grabbed a free map and we decided to follow the masses (the majority of people that got off our train were sightseeing too). The whole town was shrouded with white fog and the tops of towers were invisible. Unfortunately in this freezing weather, our only plan was to walk around and take pictures. Ultimately, this pushed Bruges to the bottom of my list of favourite cities. While writing this article I googled where exactly Bruges was and found it's further West (nearer to the sea) than Brussels, which explained the fog and therefore, the climate. We tried to spend as much time as possible indoors and spent almost an hour on lunch. 

I need a separate paragraph just to talk about our lunch: Belgian frites, or fries, were another famous food to check off our list. Let me just tell you, the best fries I've ever tasted were in this little self-service restaurant with a view of a picturesque church. My order also came with Belgian cheese croquettes, which were essentially delicious fried goats cheese. My stomach is grumbling just thinking about that meal. I remember Gleicy told me she thought it was funny that I ordered tea at all times during the day because in Brazil, it's just a morning beverage. I then proceeded to explain to her the British obsession with tea and also the Indian one for that matter. Although, it's definitely more of an obsession in the UK. But at this point, I would have drank anything to warm me up. 

We grudgingly headed out and wandered around the shrouded town some more. A Christmas market here, a church tower there, it all seemed meaningless in the savage weather. We spotted a beer museum sign and walked in to 'check the ticket price' when we were really just escaping the cold. The walls were covered with hundreds of different beer posters and even a huge sign reading 'beer' made out of beer cans. Belgian beer is famous and comes in a variety of different types. We moved on to the souvenir stores where I found a Mannequin Pis corkscrew (you can imagine where the corkscrew protruded from) to give to Veena, who I would meet later in my trip. There were really lovely chocolate stores in Bruges selling slabs of Belgian chocolate mixed with other sinfully yummy things. I bought caramel popcorn infused milk chocolate for Rachel and chocolate truffle infused dark chocolate for Nandini. How yummy do they sound please?  

By 4 pm we were ready to leave so we quickly headed in the general direction of the train station, me almost tripping over a little old lady who stopped in the middle of the pavement in front of me. The same little old lady recognized us later when we were almost at the station and started speaking to Gleicy in a language we didn't understand. Gleicy being 3 years older than me, was more sensible and she smiled and nodded like she understood. I just stood next to them with a derpy expression on my face. By the time we reached our platform, it would have been an understatement to say that I was tired. I desperately needed to recuperate so when I saw the train's doors opening I rushed to the queue and casually turned my head to check where Gleicy was. I saw her chatting with two guys who I knew must have been Brazilian. They sat behind us on the train and Gleicy talked with them the whole journey while I drifted in and out of unconsciousness. When we reached I asked them for directions to the Parlamentarium and they walked me to the bus stop. I felt thrown into the situation (I don't know why because I had been the one to ask for directions) and this resulted in a rushed conversation and me missing the right stop later on. 

By the time I got to the hostel almost 3 hours later, I found Gleicy in bed saying she'd slept for the past two hours only to wake up and continuously throw up. It's truly terrible when you're unwell in a foreign country because there are only a limited number of things you can do. Being a British citizen, I'm eligible for free healthcare in some European countries with an EHIC but Gleicy was not. She said she didn't have anything left in her stomach to throw up but the feeling of nausea hadn't stopped. One of her main concerns was not cancelling on the the two Brazilian guys whom she'd invited for drinks at our hostel's bar. By 10 pm we were both lying flat on our beds struggling to find the energy to get up but then she told me they'd travelled for over an hour to come meet us again. This truly touched me, how many people would travel for so long to meet people they'd only just met on a train for a few hours? The fact that these boys had a coach to catch later that night to London made it more impressive. I decided that Brazilians were really benevolent people and I rolled out of bed, not bothering to do my make-up and headed to the bar with Gleicy. 

The bar was crowded but we found a high table with four stools and started to get to know each other. It was like meeting them for the first time again because now they spoke in English and I could actually see their faces. I would have regretted staying in bed. They told me they were going to spend New Year's in London and I was surprised to learn that you could take a direct coach from Brussels to London. They were also travelling like us and told us about their crazy Amsterdam stories. One of them named Erich had somehow stuffed three wine bottles into his oversized backpack, saying that he was thinking ahead because the London prices for the same would be sky high. This is an example of the ridiculous things students do to save money and I thought he was both crazy and brilliant and definitely going to have a good New Years. After what seemed like too short a time, we bid adieu to them and wished them a safe journey.  Then we packed our belongings ready for check out the next morning and slept blissfully.  

 

The Beer Museum sign made of beer cans

The Beer Museum sign made of beer cans

Tags: bruges, cold

 

Comments

1

i think the drinking of tea at all times of day in the winter is an idea passed on from me to you dear ! :D

  poongothai Feb 18, 2017 1:19 AM

2

Hahaha, You know... Always on a budget, otherwise no traveling. (That explains the 3 bottles lol)
Great report btw, rich in details. You even put my name! hahaha

  Erich Feb 20, 2017 11:13 PM

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