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Still Thinking About Bruges
updated: Jan 30, 2010, 8:51 AM
By John McCafferty (aka McSeas)
We decided to lunch on a burger and fries when we arrived in Bruges, Belgium. Don't do it. "Miki Burger" evidently translates as "Eat s--- and die, tourist!" It was a pre-cooked patty of uncertain origin - gray-brown organic matter, soggy and tasteless. Had to convince the owner not to ladle on mayonnaise, which they do to French fries ("Belgian fries," he corrected me good-naturedly).
|Bruges looked so freshly swept and scrubbed; is it this clean at the end of summer?|
Locals were getting fries in piles 6 inches high or more, topped with mayo and looking like little snow-capped mountains. There was language confusion and we finally decided on fries for two. Also a mistake. The pile of potatoes must have weighed a pound! It looked like the basket that McDonald's has waiting for you under a sun lamp.
Something about this place and food. A couple of very funny young plump women from Canada in the laundromat near our hostel kept us laughing while they struggled with the foreign change and, finally, their clothing. As the heavier of the two gradually stripped behind a towel held up by her friend, and threw her dirty clothes on top of a washer, she spoke to us rhapsodically about a kind of fried dough we could find at the carnival across town.
"OHMIGAWD!" she said as her jeans flew through the air. "Those things are GOOD!" There went her shirt. "I ate a dozen …" Were those longjohns? "… and I'm going back!" There went the socks. Where would this end? "The flour must be soaked in honey and fried … ohmigawd …"
I looked away and Sharon said, "You can relax now. She's dressing". We helped them make change for the machines, and they hurried for the door. "Going for more fried dough?" I asked. "Tomorrow!" the bigger one said. The other said, "It's four o'clock! Beer time!"
We all laughed as they wedged each other into the doorway on their way out…more laughter. We felt like joining them and making it, "The Four Stooges in Bruges," but we were too old and hadn't really come to party, and so we reluctantly waved goodbye. The camaraderie of the trail - it's fun.
We also enjoyed the company of a middle-aged Aussie couple, teachers on sabbatical, making the rounds of Europe like us, but renting bikes for outings. They said our reckoning was correct, that there were a gazillion bicycles in Belgium, leaving the folks to depend on their quadriceps muscles instead of oil companies. But of course it's a small country.
The food was good (standard Western fare) and neither we, nor the Aussies had to worry about calories, with all our sightseeing walks and their bike riding. (I did follow the laundromat girl's directions, however, and ate nearly a dozen of those sugary fried confections at the fair. Sometimes you just need sugar to keep up your strength.)
Our hostel was excellent too, as long as we gave the rowdy bar area a wide berth. Our private room was on the top floor of the building next door. The mostly young clientele came to play! There was only a minor disturbance while one of today's half-deaf generation gave us an early morning through-the-wall serenade of a rhythmic but tuneless example of today's pop "music".
|Always something going on in downtown Bruges.|
Smoking was a little annoying at times. Really surprised at how many youths -- mostly Euros -- lit one weed after another. Then I realized that they behaved as I did 40 years ago.
The bathroom in the hall wasn't so bad. Managed to avoid frightening young strangers with my ghostly white legs in the dim light. Most important -- the whole building was very quiet at night. New to me: to get shower water you had to push a big button, and push again and again because it turned itself off every 15 or so seconds. Good water-saving device, but a minor nuisance, especially for someone trying to shave in the shower.
Gotta return to (censored) Bruges, dieting first to make way for chocolate, French fries, waffles and beer -- Belgium's Big Four tourist attractions. It's a delightful place.
(Find further McSeas ramblings at www.mcseas.com)
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