Monday, September 21, 2009

15 things i actually remember about Belgium

we got back from belgium last night, but i haven't quite fully recovered enough to have the energy to post about the weekend. i'm sure brussels and bruges are still recovering from the canadian storm that hit them too. it was all whirlwind, heat, and flash, to quote my favourite band. and educational too. i learned all sorts of things about myself, my friends, and the belgians.

1. after you travel to many new places, you start seeing things like this (yes, he's wearing sunglasses) and not blinking.

2. Belgium has some of the best beer in the world. however, you stop noticing the fabulous taste after ten of them and instead find yourself standing on a table in a bar at 4AM.

3. if you stay at a hostel right in the heart of downtown Brussels, you take on the risk of heading back home one day, only to find a bunch of uniformed soldiers shooting cannons down the street towards your hostel. do the belgians find our love of ketchup on french fries that offensive?

4. Brussels...really excited for some reason about statues of little boys peeing.

5. i have this theory that "flu power flu" must mean something to the people of Brussels, but despite my basic French-speaking ability, i have not yet figured it out.

6. white people in blackface...not quite yet an offensive thing yet for Belgians. not quite sure this would go over as well in north america.

7. Delirium beer is an excellent part of a complete breakfast. Also an excellent part of a complete breakfast: a walk around the chocolate shops to get free chocolate samples everywhere.

8. okay, for people who like a more traditional breakfast, Belgian waffels - every bit as awesome as the hype builds them up to be. even waffels off the street.

9. my french gets much better when i drink. or at least i think it does. this skill is not particularly useful in countries where people speak Dutch, however, in Brussels it came in handy to be able to ask NATO workers at the bar where the *real* NATO headquarters were, and what NATO *really* does. and whether they have a bat cave with a batmobile

10. i was quite sad to leave Brussels and find out that French is not the dominant language in Bruges. i've been spending so much time, here in amsterdam, not knowing what people or signs were saying, that it felt very nice for a while to not be totally clueless in the french part of Brussels. when we moved on to Bruges, i was sadly back to not understanding what a single thing on the menu was.

11. ...but not that sad. i mean, despite the frenchlessness, Bruges turned out to be a very quaint, breathtaking city.

12. playing hearts is an excellent way to pass the time on the train, as long as you don't mind the fact that you suck incredibly hard at it, despite years of playing it on the computer as a child.

13. abandon all hopes of a cheap meal if you're wandering around tourist traps. also, avoid all hopes of efficient respectful customer service and free things. we learned this with our waiter who very condescendingly told us that we do not do mashed potatoes or tap water here in Europe...and then immediately offered to sell us weed. i guess he didn't know we live in Amsterdam.

14. be careful when you order mussels. you might get a lot of mussels.

15. 11AM check-out times always seem so reasonable at the time. i don't care if my traveling companions are weak. going to bed at 6AM and checking out in time is so do-able...just not for us.