March 23, 2011

Frolicking in Flanders

Oostende - Brugge - Gent

What up!

This day was actually a repeat vacation.

I felt like I "had to" go to Brugge again, just because it is The Tourist Attraction in Belgium. But as I wandered the streets, I realized the only thing I really remember about Brugge is that I have pictures of it in a Europe album from when I was 15. Everything else was a fuzzy blank. What I do remember is being in Belgium and Northern France and having a bad attitude because we were "only 4 hours from Paris by bus" and our bus driver refused to take us.

My new theory on tourism: eat dessert first. I need to do what I'm most looking forward as soon as I can, and only then can I really appreciate what happens next. It's the same reason I always ate cookies in the cafeteria while waiting in the lunch line.

Brugge was great; I found windmills, strolled through neighborhoods, and went on a boat ride (see video below). Brugge also had excellent shopping, and of course, the token H&M store.

I hopped the train to Gent next, and exited the station to the most bicycles I have ever seen in one spot. I didn't really know where I was going, so I just moved toward a large crowd on the other side of the square...and ended up in a movie. It was all in French, and I stood there, staring at these actors and extras who kept walking in circular patterns around each other. I think they were trying to create the allusion of a busy sidewalk?

My reverie was interrupted by a woman who said something in Dutch, which she eventually translated to: "Don't look so closely, you're in the shot." Thanks for the advice, I'll work on appearing more natural next time I stumble onto a movie set in public.

When I hear English, I must eavesdrop, and this is what I overhead a teenager say in Gent:
"I don't know why people think Brugge is better than Gent. Gent is so much cooler. Brugge is for old people."

I have three main questions after spending a lovely sunny day in the Flemish region of Belgium:

1. What is with Dutch people and bicycles?
(I almost got hit by at least 3 bicyclists. They are like racing ninjas that zip from out of nowhere, and you are trapped on their ninja speedway. They go on roads, sidewalks, dirt - and they do not stop. Good luck.)

2. I liked Brugge much more than Gent - does this mean I'm an "old person?" (I hope so.)

3. How many European dogs die from secondhand smoke?
(This is not only an observation from Flanders. It just finally occurred to me on this day, so it goes in this blog. The dogs go everywhere with the owner, and the owner smokes everywhere they go, so it stands to reason that these Euro dogs would be most exposed to the secondhand smoke. Where is PETA when you actually need them?)

Can you place the voice? 
It reminds me of some movie character...

PSA: Seagulls