I’m at work, and while I would love to finish up the Venice
Chronicles, I don’t have the technology to do so, the pictures being at home. But
I DO have the pictures from the end of my trip.
So here’s what we’ll do. I’m all PMS-y and prone to wild
bursts of organization and lists, so you’ll get a very small dose here.
Chapters of Lala’s and Rachael’s European Tour
Brussels (blogged, check)
Venice (you saw some, not all, but really, that might be enough)
Back to Belgium, where we join The Whoreshoes (will blog when Lala is home with that camera and its pictures)
- More Belgium, in which Rachael is alone
So I’m skipping ahead to number four. Just watch me!
See, I thought it would be an adventure, me in Europe with no camera. One of the things I love best
about travel is not only BEING there, but SEEING differently. I see it once
with my eyes, and then again with through the camera lens. Framing things makes
them different, doesn’t it? I can sit in a square that I’ve spent hours in
before, and then I hold the camera up and see something that I never noticed.
Lala and our jointly-owned camera in the band house, everyone still asleep. I
had a full day extra, having pushed back my ticket a day, and I wasn’t going to
hang with the band anymore. I saw their first gig in Europe.
I can see as many shows as I like while at home. But I was in Belgium, for
the first time ever and I intended to see more of it. By myself. I love
traveling by myself.
I left the house, trundling my suitcase, my backpack on my
back. I walked in the direction that Ludo, the girls’ driver and soundman, had
pointed when I asked about a bus that could take me to the train station. Oooh!
Really, I was just out and about in a small Belgian town (Herentals), and it
wasn’t very exotic at all, just people driving to work and wheeling prams, but
to me it felt so foreign and exciting.
I found the bus and waited for it, trying to blend in,
failing miserably. I can fake it in Italian, to a certain extent. I can’t fake
ANYTHING in Flemish or French. I know how to apologize, though, and isn’t that
the most important part of communicating in a foreign language?
From a note I wrote in my diary at the busstop:
The weather is perfect. It’s that dry, autumnal windy
warmth, the kind that always makes my blood stir, to write, to move, to love.
If I were at home in this weather, I’d want to be someplace like this,
somewhere, traveling in a foreign land, so it’s good I’m here.
I got the bus, then got the train, and then got another
train and ended up in Brugge. It had taken longer than I had thought it would
to get there, almost three hours, not the simple hour and a half, and while I’d
enjoyed the travel immensely, knitting and staring out the windows, listening
to music, watching the green unroll, when I stepped off the train, I was
suddenly very, very tired.
I was SO tired. I was suddenly sad that I was so far from
Lala, in this far-away country, and maybe I should have stayed with her, and it
looked like it might rain, and what did Brugge really have, anyway?
I made the decision that I would just move my feet. I would put
my suitcase in a luggage locker, go find a square and have a coffee, and then
maybe I would just get on the train and head back to Brussels. Give up on this new city. Too much, too many hours of
traveling, had all added up.
So I walked. I got to a square and with jaded eyes, I got
out the map that I was given at the Tourist Info Center.
No point, really.
I got out the slip of paper upon which I written the name of
the only yarn store in town that I could find info about online. I found its
address on my map. Yes, of course. The train station was at the very south of
town. The yarn shop was at the very north tip of town. As far apart as they
How important was yarn, really? I mean, come on.
Well, I suppose I could take a cab.....
That was it! I’d flag down a cab. I’d seen a bunch of them
flying around town. I would cop out and catch a cab, look at yarn, and get the hell
out of dodge.
I started walking.
You can guess the rest, right?
No cab anywhere, none to be had. I saw the whole damn city on foot,
and it was glorious. Such a gorgeous old lady of a city, all cobblestones and
canals (strange, how they smelled so much like the Venetian ones, that smell
that I love).
Oh, yes. I almost forgot to say: I lasted approximately fifteen minutes there before
I marched into a store and bought a disposable camera. Click for bigness.
Look at that sky!
I love windows.
You can take the bus, or the horse.
And of course, Stikkestek (Walweinstraat 3. Tel: (050) 34 03 45.)
Such a nice owner, and I came out with all SORTS of goodies. Well, okay, only two different kinds (can't remember which, since I'm at work and can't go run to the yarn room to check) but have since seen BOTH yarns at my LYS. Damn. Oh, well, they were way cheaper there.
Then I left the yarn store, rambled out, and took a strange little side alley that looked promising. (I learned that from my mother. Who is not, as it sounds, a hooker; she is just adventurous that way.) And DUDE, did it pay off. The little alley led into a wider alley, and then into a tiny pocket-sized park with THIS in the middle:
Strangest thing ever. Really, it was a park, with benches and trash cans and families playing and a woman strolling through looking like she was on her way to work, and SHEEP in the middle. I believe all parks should have this. And free yarn, while we're at it.
Imagine that strange, warm, dry wind while you look at the above picture. Those leaves were scrit-scritching as they swirled.
Me, happy as hell I went to Brugge.
And quickly, because I've written enough already, the end of the trip: I left Brugge and trained to Brussels, got a hotel room with a BATHTUB and then got tired-of-travel again. I almost took a bath and went to bed, knowing I'd have to get up early to catch another train to the plane.
But I made myself move. No copping out. I went to the gay district (north-west of Grand Place), and had pasta on a sidewalk outside a leather-bear bar. I was joined by a group of kids who were loud and crazy and nice. One of the guys introduced me to another girl who walked up, and I understood enough French to know she said, "How do you say bon apetit in English?" I said, "Bon apetit." She laughed and said, "Bon apetit!" I raised my fork to her.
I left, and trolled the streets looking for a girl-bar. Doesn't that sound bad? But honestly, trolling for girl-bars in Brussels is like looking for an apple in the library. Kind of hard to find, but someone has one somewhere, and it's pretty darn innocent. When I saw the girl crying out front on the steps, another cradling her head and whispering things in her ear, brushing the hair out of her tear-streaked face, I knew I'd found the place. I had a beer with my people and just watched. I just liked being there. The only person I spoke to was a straight guy who offered me a cigarette. I walked back through the square, where groups of people sat on the ground, singing and eating and hanging out.
It's good to push past that Don't Wanna part of yourself, isn't it? Proven again.
Thus endeth my Belgium-alone section.