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01 August 2015 @ 04:12 pm
There are no family-friendly In Bruges references  
I'm on a train to Antwerp riding backwards, so in the hopes that I do not vomit I am writing this blog. Maybe it will distract me from the backwards momentum. We can only hope.

Where was I? Oh right. Day 33. We were going to dinner.

...OH GOD THAT'S RIGHT, THIS DINNER.

So we had intents of going for Turkish food, and it seemed like we were in the midst of the Turkish district of the City. So we headed towards the better reviewed restaurant of the bunch.

We walked in to the place, and there was only one old man sitting in there eating. Hrrrm. Not the best start, but admittedly the weather had been weird and there weren't many people on the streets, so okay. Maybe it's fine.

So we get sat down by a guy who legit looks like the stereotypical image of a used car salesman, with his hair slicked back down his neck. He asks us if we want anything to drink.

Wolf asks for a Turkish Coffee. He's like “Sorry, the machine is broken.” and she's like “Oh- damn. Okay. I'll have a coke.”

Fair enough, right. Then he comes to me. I ask for a fresh mint tea.

“I told you the machine is broken, sorry.”

...The water heating machine? Would that not be like- ...the stove?

That might explain why when we asked if we could order food, they seemed to be “out” of everything. They also refused to allow us to order starters, because we were “in a group”.

Uhhhhhhhhm.

We paid for our cokes and bailed.

We walked down the street kind of aimlessly before we passed a pub called Walter that I'd seen on the list of recommended restaurants, and we went in.

The food and atmosphere in this place were both really charming. They did an Indian-fusion style pub food, and I got a curry with rice that had fried up peppers in it. Really tasty. Wolf also had a steak that I greatly envied – it looked so perfect! We liked it so much we got dessert too.

Then it was back to the hotel and crash hard time. Zzzzz.

Day 34 was much less spontaneously rainy than the day before. We spent it basically wandering to all of the things we had wanted to see the day before.

First there was a free breakfast, though, which was handed out college-cafeteria style at our giant hostel. And I mention this because despite the fact that it took Gal and Nicole pointing it out for me to reallize, our hostel was TOTALLY A REMODELED HIGH SCHOOL. Remember last time when I said the windows reminded me of being in school? WITH GOOD REASON, APPARENTLY. Makes me wonder what happened to the school.

Back to the mission – our first goal was to climb onto the roof of the old church in the middle of the Red Light District, so we walked our way into town. Amsterdam is ridiculously walkable. The whole city centre didn't seem too big to walk around. Which is good, because their transit ain't cheap.

On the walk in, we bought duct tape, because Duct Tape Wheel #1 on my suitcase had failed for a second time and needed a new application. The guy impressed me with his English. God, North America, get with it. Everybody else seems to be able to speak more than one language.

Then we went to the church, passing a bunch of bored sex workers on their phones as we went. I find it kind of striking how uninterested they seem. It was the same when we walked through at night.

We stopped into the chocolate shop that now operates inside of the church, which was just gorgeous. They had chocolates of all different flavours/fillings/coatings and none of us could resist picking up a few. I had a coconut, pistachio, and coffee chocolate. Regrettably, I ate the coconut first, because it was definitely the best one. The pistachio was booze-soaked and the coffee was... too intense for me. There was an espresso caramel in the centre!

We then intended to climb the church, but it cost 7 Euro. No thanks! I'll stick to Google Earth for now.

The next goal was to bring Nicole and I to the museum gift shop, where we'd spotted the Amsterdam ornaments we wanted to take home. That was quite a walk away, and we ended up wandering through the City, where Nicole bought a bunch of cheese for her parents. I would have but I've got a long way to go to be carrying cheese the whole time! Maybe in France.

We picked up our ornaments, and then went for lunch at a sandwich place recommended by our guidebook. Yet we were all kind of surprised that every sandwich they served was open-faced. How one eats a BLT (with Avocado) with a fork & knife and any dignity remaining at the end of the meal is something I still have questions about. It was very tasty, though.

From there, Gal and Nicole decided to do some clothes shopping, so we wandered clothing stores. Everything was on sale, but nothing was really cheap. I was feeling so envious of those among us with the cash available to buy things.

Nicole got a pea coat, but regretted the purchase. She found another one she liked better later – and smartly bought it despite having the other one, because it is super cute. Wolf and I didn't get anything. Did Gal? I don't think so. But she'd gotten two dresses the day before after we went to Pancakes!, so I don't think she felt too hard done by.

When we were shopped out, we decided it'd be nice to go on a Canal Cruise around the waterways of Amsterdam.

WE WERE ALMOST COMICALLY INCORRECT.

Man was that cruise lousy. We drove around and listened to a recording spout facts that would be really difficult to describe as interesting at the best of times. The recording also seemed out of date, because its estimate for how many bikes there are was way under our tour guide's, and his seems more plausible. We didn't have a live guide we were just sat on the boat. Gal fell asleep. But apparently that's a thing she does on boats, because she did it in Copenhagen too. And I loved that tour!

After the tour we split up for about an hour so we could all wander the City and take care of some other stuff we wanted to do. I saw yet more things I wish I had the money to purchase. Sigh!

Dinner was at a tapas place, which was dangerous considering how hungry we all were. We ordered like 8 tapas and two starters, including a place of nachos that I swear only had 20 chips in it and was otherwise filled with ground beef. Delicious, but confusing, is what I call that one. My favourite tapas option was actually the mixed grilled vegetables. I think I'm getting veggie-starved after all this Europe.

Then back to the hotel and to sleep for us! It was already almost midnight!

Day 35. We STRUGGLED out of bed as Nicole berated us for our tardyness. Back downstairs for free breakfast. Free breakfast eaten with mild distaste because it was all the same stuff.

Our goal was simple: we were going to see windmills in the morning, then go out for Amsterdam Pride Weekend (which was a complete surprise to us? A very pleasant one). We caught a bus to the central train station and got on a bus to... somewhere that starts with a Z. I FORGET THE NAME. But it had 6 fully-working windmills, and was an old-style (but newly built, in no small part) Dutch town. It was so cute I kind of wanted to move there. Move there and see clogs.

We had a picnic there, with cheese and salami and bread and various fruits, and just watched the windmills roll around. So peaceful. We also saw goats, and sheep, and cats, and I fed some ducks the leftovers of our bread and MAYBE THAT'S BAD FOR THEM I'M NOT SURE but it was cute and they all gathered and attacked the bread. The seagulls and crows even stole a few pieces.

We also watched a guy make a wooden shoe with a machine that basically works the same way a key copier does, which is kind of brilliant.

Gal and Nicole were hurrying ahead of Wolf and I for most of the trip, and I guess it was good they were setting a fast pace, because even after almost 5 hours we didn't really get to see everything as much as I'd like. Guess I have to come back, Amsterdam!

We took the bus back to the station, and when we got there, Nicole admitted she was feeling really sick. She headed back to the hotel while Gal and Wolf and I headed for the Pride Weekend opening-night Drag Olympics.

It. Was. INSANE.

The crowd was huge when we arrived, and was only getting bigger. We shoved our way in to a spot with absolutely no view, and then as the event went on, slowly got to scoot closer and closer until we could at least see the contestants when they were on stage.

The Drag Olympics involved 4 events:

1) Stiletto Races. Running in a circle in stilettos as fast as possible. I could not see this event whatsoever, but judging by how fast the tops of the ladies' heads moved, they were running pretty damn fast.

2) Purse Throwing. Basically picture shotput, but with purses. Into the crowd.

3) The Bitch Volley. Which involved all the Queens going into the audience and trying to get a hold of a giant rainbow beach ball which was bouncing around the crowd. The first one who could get on stage with it above their head won. By the time somebody got up there, that ball had already been popped!

4) The Hula Hoop. When the Hula Hoop got going, it became VERY CLEAR who was going to win this whole contest. This one Queen hula hooped with so much damn attitude, checking her nails as she did it, doing a little dance between hip shakes, adjusting her hair – she became a crowd favourite instantly. Once she also turned out to be the best at Hula Hooping, it was done!

I mean, it did help that the finale was a twerk-off, because that kind of advantages the skilled Hula Hooper anyway.

So she won, and I have literally 0% recollection of her name. And then we bailed out of that insane crowd and decided to return to the hostel to check on Nicole and get dinner. Wolf and Gal had tentative ambitions to come back out into town, but they were not to be.

So we got back to the hostel, had questionable quality (but cheap!) pizza in the hostel bar, packed, and slept the night away.

Day 36, otherwise known as THE DAY I REALIZED MY DAY NUMBERING HAS BEEN ONE DAY OFF FOR WEEKS NOW, THANKS FOR POINTING IT OUT, LOYAL READERS, YA JERKS.

We woke up, packed, got ready for our long days of journeying, dropped our stuff off in the luggage room and had breakfast at the nearby coffee shop. Shortly afterwards, Wolf & Gal & Nicole were off to the airport in what was supposed to be a Tesla, but I'm pretty sure somebody else stole their car before they could get it. So they had some other electric vehicle. Which may also have been nice.

Then I had 40 minutes to kill, so I got caught up on my favourite currently airing anime using the hostel's decent Wi-fi.

Off to the train station. I had a reservation number and a notice that I should pick up my tickets at the station, so I figured it'd be like the UK and I could just pick them up with 45 minutes to spare and still have to wait around 30 minutes. Nope. Instead I got yelled at by the information guy for leaving it so late (I had an hour and a half to spare) and he said there was no promises I could pick up the tickets in time to get on the train, because I would have to wait.

So now I'm sitting there freaking out and also going “WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS SYSTEM, EVEN AIRPLANES CHECK YOU IN FASTER THAN THIS, AND WHY WOULD THEY GIVE ME NO NOTICE OF WHAT PICKING UP TICKETS ENTAILS” but luckily not many people were in line, it took them 20 minutes to process 3 people (WTF) but I still got on my train to Bruges. Well, technically Antwerp. Which is a GORGEOUS rail station, FYI. And also has lots of fast food waffle stands for your Belgium-stereotype pleasure.

Then I took a commuter train full of really rude French and Dutch people who broke a bunch of transit rules, such as: Don't sit your bags in seats, don't let your stuff block the aisles, don't LIE ACROSS MULTIPLE SEATS, don't throw things... yeah. It was kind of a mess. I listened to podcasts the whole time.

Then I got to Bruges! Or Brugge, if you prefer. I took a taxi to my hotel and on the way the taxi driver played tour guide, telling me what areas to avoid to avoid tourist price gouging, how to tell my way around town by orienting myself around the churches (SO MANY CHURCHES) and told me that I would really like Brugge, because it is in every way better than Brussels, which is the literal worst. How many people have told me how terrible Brussels is on this trip? I can remember at least 5. I am starting to get the worst mental image of this place.

I came back to my hotel to reorient myself and make some plans, and then I went out and just... wandered the whole damn city. It took about two hours to see the whole thing, which is all so so so pretty and old looking and it is hard to believe anybody lives here, because I only saw tourists.

Then I got the tiniest hamburger I'd ever seen, which was called the giant burger. Ironic.

Then I returned to my hotel, showered because I felt kinda gross, organized my stuff, and was settling in to upload photos while watching a terrible movie where Drew Barrymore and Jon Krazinski save the whales. And then the Boyfriend offered to call because the internet here is TOP NOTCH.

And then we Skyped for two hours.

I'LL POST PHOTOS SOMEDAY I SWEAR.

Then I did laundry and now here I am doing this blog and I am literally waking up in like 6 hours what is wrong with me.

I'm trying to appreciate Bruges to the fullest extent, I suppose!

Fuckin' Bruges.

The swears don't count when they're movie references, right?
 
 
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