“i wanna be famous”

7/20/10   –   18:16

I left Schinnen bright and early on Monday morning and got on a serious of trains weaving my way through Maastricht [again], crossing into Belgium, stopping in Liège [and being wowed at how cool and modernist their train station is, and then finally making way to Bruxelles Nord Station.

My first impression of Brussels from Bruxelles Nord, as I later would read, could come out two ways depending on where I exited. There is one exit which leads out into Place Bolivar, the heart of Brussels’ skyscraper district. The other exit leads to the rather unglamorous heart of the prosititution district. I chose the former and was wowed by large buildings instead of being wooed by strange women. Brussels had about an hour to make its impression though, seeing as today was supposed to be spent in Ghent [haha. That rhymes -_-]

I dropped my stuff off in the hostel and walked back to the station to take the 45 minute train to Ghent. The first thing I noticed was that the heat had come back again [dammit. The Netherlands is hogging all the nice weather] and so that necessitated some drink-finding. I dropped into a convenience store and searched for Belgium’s unique Fanta flavor. Well hey there, Argumes fanta. I believe it means citrus? I swear I’ve become a connoissuer of European Fanta flavours. That and finding places to nap.

With my lucky timing and all, I dropped into Ghent at the same time as they were having their Gentse Feesten which is just as awesome as that sounds. It’s a ten day festival wherein the city explodes with just about every type of live performance. It’s orginally a folk festival, but it is also held concurrently ith a huge puppet show festival, a jazz festival, and a techno festival. As such, there’s a bunch of squares and they all have different stuff going on in each of them. I can walk around and watch a puppet show [which I did. It’s a lot less lame and more entertaining than it sounds], a local rock group, a street-performing cellist, a techno dance party, a break-dancing tournament, a portable carillon player, a live jazz band, a folk instrument ensemble, and wrap it all up on carnival rides. In short, I actually did do most of this, and  I love this festival.

My original plan in going to Ghent was to visit the Delirium brewery based nearby. Too bad they only offer tours to groups of 15 or more. I did the next best thing and bought a bottle of Delirium Tremens from the local store and enjoyed that while I laid in the shade in a grassy area by a canal. I was feeling pretty great after just that one because Belgian beers tend to err on the strong side, in my experience. So after lounging there for a bit,  I did the only logical thing I could think of. I went to the nearest chuch and watched a viola and harp recital.

After that, I wandered around and I came across a crowd of people surrounding a group of singing girls with instruments. I sat down and listened for a couple songs and realied why they were so enthralled. They’re pretty entertaining. I feel like a large part of the Gentse Feesten [besides feastin’] is supporting small-time performers like this group. I could’ve gotten a really substantial meal for 10 euro, but I think supporting those girls by buying their CD was more satisfying. Besides. I figure I’ve racked up millions of dollars in bad karma via downloading. Here’s some of it back, cosmic order.

By that point, the delirium had worn off [haw.] and I went to the other big inebriator of the festival. If you’re not drinking the Belgian beers, you’re taking shots of genievre, or flavored gins. They had a stand selling shots and I tried the apple one which was great. It tasted better than green apple smirnoff, although I have yet to try Gala apple vodka so it has a chance of being beaten for best apple-flavored liquor in the future.

I walked around a bit more after that and enjoyed the atmosphere until I had to go back to the station to catch the train back to Brussels. On my way back I had this random thought:

– Given that I don’t speak Dutch, I’m force to ask for aid in English and when I do, I opt for a British accent. This is probably because I feel like they’ll be more responsive and nicer overall. This is most likely a load of BS, but it doesn’t stop me from trying anyway.

And there went Ghent. [-_- stop me.] I was going to go to Antwerp the day after, but I decided to stay in Brussels to see what there is to see. And if I write that one right now, I’ll be caught up and I can go to the bar! So let’s try doing that, haha.


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