This morning I met Irene, a Korean exchange student studying statistics at a university in Lithuania. Her English wasn’t particularly strong, but we decided to get Belgian fries and go to Bruges together. She was very excited to try this new kind of potato (감자 “gamja“), and to her merit, it was quite good. We both got large cones filled with “frites”, mine was topped with a spicy, vinegary mayonnaise that was very tasty. We ate these as we headed over to the Brussels Centraal station, only to find that the station was closed for maintenance. I then talked to a station agent and got us both discounted train tickets to and from Bruges.
There wasn’t a direct train from Brussels to Bruges, so we had to transfer in Ghent. The train rides were very quick, only about an hour and a half total. After we arrived in Bruges, Irene met up with one of her friends from Korea and I ventured out on my own to explore the city.
I didn’t do much research on what to see in Bruges, so I just wandered aimlessly and happened to stumble upon some cool things. At each opportunity there was to make a turn, I just chose to go the way that looked more interesting. I found myself at an outdoor metal festival near the eastern edge of Bruges which was very loud but surprisingly good. The band was from the Netherlands, sang in English, and all of the band members seemed very technically skilled. After about an hour, I wandered off and found myself inside of a chocolate shop and got six truffles for €4,50 with flavors ranging from champagne to nougat. I still have three left and am looking forward to enjoying them on the train to Amsterdam tomorrow.
I continued to wander around Bruges for another couple of hours until I got tired and decided to head back to Brussels. Upon arrival back at the hostel, I met Oana, a Romanian woman studying to get her masters in international political science at the University of Madrid. We talked for a long time about politics, both American and European. We share very similar political views and we were able to bond over our shared disgust for the current political climate in the US and France. I also met Lou, who is from Southern California and is taking pictures of her friends wearing wooden bow ties all over Europe so she can “build a brand on Etsy that seems international”. She was a bit tipsy when she got to the room and tried to give me some life advice but I think she meant well.
After our conversation I decided to go see downtown Brussels one last time before leaving for Amsterdam in the morning. It was a much different experience at night, with all of the buildings lit up and people bustling around from bar to bar. I got a snack at McDonalds (mainly to use their wifi), some chocolate for my family, and then went to Delirium to check out the famously huge bar with over 2000 beer selections. I looked around all three of the floors to get a feel for what all the fuss was about, but left without trying one of their many many beers.