I have to confess that the past week or so hasn’t been the greatest. I have been falling quite a bit behind on my workload, travel plans have been getting complicated and falling through, Hugo Chavez was reelected in my home country of Venezuela, my grandfather died, and so forth… It’s been a bit rough, although as always things could easily be much worse. And I think this is the mentality that I’ve kind of carried throughout—that there’s no point in sitting around and wallowing; you just have to deal with it and make it work. It feels a bit strange because I’ve realized that, when it comes to sadness or inconvenience, I can actually be pretty resilient and easily unaffected. It makes me feel oddly independent.
Anyway, considering the focus here is on my time here and my travels, I guess I can say I have another little adventure to share with you, as I took a little solo day trip to Brugge, Belgium. Like the rest of the week, it didn’t exactly run smoothly, nor was I entirely excited for it, to be honest. See, my Eurail pass is about to expire and I needed to use one of my days so as to feel like I didn’t completely flush that money down the toilet. So despite obligations, time constraints, lack of legitimate interest, and depressing weather, I decided that I was willing to do the 3-hour, 3-train trip each way to check out this medieval so-called “Venice of the North” for a couple of hours. First I tried on Saturday, but once I got to Rotterdam the connecting trains to Antwerp kept getting cancelled and out of exasperation I just headed back home. I realized that the Saturday market was going on in Utrecht so I went ahead to check some of it out for the first time, and took advantage of the opportunity to get one of those fresh superstroopwafels that everyone raves about.
I postponed my second attempt for Monday morning and, lo and behold, the trains to Rotterdam kept getting canceled again. Still, this was my last chance to use the pass, so it ended up taking me around 5 hours just to get to Brugge, only to finally walk out of its little Belgian train station into the freezing cold rain. By that time I’ll admit I was pretty sick of it all, but I said “It took my five f%#@ing hours to get here, so I WILL like this.” I grabbed my raincoat, opened my umbrella, and decided to employ a simple method my brother-in-law and I had developed in Rome that we called sigue al pueblo (“follow the people”) and basically just followed groups of tourists into town. It’s actually pretty reliable if you don’t have a map.
From there on out I just walked around town, taking pictures and trying to cover the leaks in my brand-new umbrella. And now that you’re definitely sick of reading this, here are the pictures:
Despite the constant poking of the dislodged ribs in my umbrella on the top of my head and the fact that my feet were so soaked and sore that I had barely realized they’d started to bleed, I have to admit I found a sort of haunting, whispered beauty in this medieval city. It was sort of romantic, even though I was obviously on my own. The clouds, chimney smoke, and soggy fallen leaves seemed to add to its age, and I found myself thinking of all that this place must have survived. The buildings and cobblestone roads just stayed there: solid, robust, unfazed by the constant strain of their use. It was an odd reminder that—hey—life goes on. I guess you could say that it all seems quite depressing, and the pictures probably don’t help. But in reality it was more comforting than anything.