Thursday, May 11, 2017

A Hungry, Hungry Hippo Tours Bruges, Belgium

I chatted with the girl at the hotel front desk a bit on my way out the door. She said that the weather forecast for today was so bad that the government was advising people to stay indoors. Luckily I come from a land where we neither let the gubmint impinge on our liberty or pay attention to what the liberal elite "meteorologists" think. USA! USA!


My luggage need never fear, the Rwanda Civil Aviation Authority is here!


The weather in Bruges did turn out to be pretty annoying. I had to carry an umbrella, jacket, and sunglasses with me at all times and always needed all three but only one at a time. The minute I didn't have sunglasses on me I would get my retinas microwaved and if I walked back to the hotel to get them it would start raining.


I had a tour of the city booked for tomorrow, so today I was doing a self-guided tour of the things that I didn't think would be covered tomorrow.


Bruges used to be a big deal because it had a canal that reached the ocean and so was a commercial hub. When the canal silted up the city lost its status and was sort of forgotten for a long time. I think that might be why it retains so much of its story-book building charm.




The Belfry of Bruges is one of the city's most prominent symbols. It still plays songs at certain times that surely have some significance if only someone would check to see what that was... Anyway moving on. How about a picture of me?


Everybody loves pictures of me.


Christmas shops open all year round? How quaint.






I think there's a statue somewhere of a Belgian dude trying to invent the belt. I couldn't figure out the details.


The big thing that I wanted to see were the windmills on the outskirts of town. I figured they wouldn't be on the tour because the walk was so long.


Boom another picture of me. Sorry for making you wait so long since the last one.


This dragon bench made me feel more manly while taking a rest after my long walk.


Some of you were probably thinking "I saw the one with the windmill over his right shoulder but I wonder if one was to put the windmill over his left shoulder that might also be a picture that I would like to have a gander at." I got you covered.






Well it was like 3-3:30ish and I was ready to have a nice late lunch, all late and long and slow and European like. Well it turns out Bruges is a real stickler about when one is supposed to eat one's lunch. I swear I went to six restaurants and they were all closed.


I could hear silverware clanking plates from the cobble-stoney street and I followed the sound to what I think was like a second hand store's cafeteria. Oh people were eating, but they were done selling food until later. Was like Goodwill had a baby with IKEA in there. I had not been made aware of the apparently strict town eating schedule. Maybe that's what the bell tower has been trying to tell me.


The last place I popped into was a hostel and I think my rationale was maybe they cater to the whims of the foreign and the jetlagged. No food. But they did have beer so whatever. 

I sat and watched some douchey American guy weakly hitting on the bartender. The place was so full of foreigners. It was all an uncomfortable reminder that I'm not as special and edgy as I might like to imagine. In Africa I was an adventurer out doing some crazy cool thing and everyone wanted to hear my story. Here I'm just another tourist sitting on his butt drinking beer and eating chocolate. I went from uncomfortable and cool to comfortable and uncool.


Delirium Tremens definitely tastes like it's 8.5% alcohol. It has that heavy barley wine sort of feel to it but it's nice. The menu described it as "Belgian spices, yeast and a bit of fruitiness. Nicely carbonated, sweet with hints of banana and citrus". It was listed as a Belgian pale ale which I would not have expected. Wikipedia says it was named ""Best Beer in the World" in 2008 at the World Beer Championships in Chicago, Illinois."

Charmingly what "delirium tremens" refers to according to Wikipedia is a "rapid onset of confusion usually caused by withdrawal from alcohol." I think the condition causes you to hallucinate which I think is what the company's pink elephant logo is all about.


The bar was doing this funny thing where they just kept lighting candles on the same candlestick over the years and it turned into this giant melted wax monstrosity. It's the sort of art that reminds me when people say like "oh I didn't know you were growing a beard" and I'm like... well that's just what happens when I do nothing. Glad you noticed.


I left and pondered "maybe drinking 9% beers on an empty stomach is not a good life choice" so I continued my search for food. Bruges you know I'll eat McDonald's every goddamn meal. Push me and see what happens.


I was reduced to hungrily smooshing my nose against butcher shop windows like a soot-faced Dickensian vagabond. I propped my hobo bindle against the wall and entered the shop, ready to potentially eat some raw bologna as my first lunch in Bruges.


I ate two sausages with an orange Fanta for lunch outside like a friggin' cartoon dog. I'll get you for this Bruges!


I visited a supermarket and they had ketchup flavored potato chips. These people truly are monsters.


Passionfruit has reverted back to being some weird ingredient in things. We'll always have the passionfruit, Rwanda.












This place took the chocolate and candy covered Belgian waffle and made it awesomer. They were like strips of waffle on a stick that you could coat with whatever deliciousness you wanted.


There was a tourist trappy beer museum. No thanks but cool sign, bro.






This place had all sorts of genitalia-shape chocolates for that special delinquent in your life.


Me!


I brought my umbrella so I wouldn't need to go in here.






I went to a carnival.






The police here look awesome. "I want my helmet to say 'RoboCop Barbie' please thanks."




I went to a church. It was like a carnival for the soul.
















I found the McDonald's and formally put Bruges on notice. No more funny stuff.


Seats on seats in the fancy Bruges McD's.


I found the nice seafood place that I wanted to have dinner at but shockingly it was not yet open. No food for you! Whatever.


This was one problem that sitting and having a beer would actually fix. I can't get enough of this cherry juice kriek. I might say that Belgium is the country that does beer the best. I'm just going to throw it out there. You get really good stuff and it's not too expensive.




My restaurant was called Breydel - De Coninc. Sounds pretty damn fancy already. In French you can just call a restaurant "soiled pile of gym socks" and it will sound magical and romantic.


My travel book said the speciality here is the mussels and fries, which was backed up by the mussel shell sculptures in the window.






The waitress brought over a plate of sauces and I had to ask what exactly was going on here. The bottom left was mayo and the right was tartar both for the fries and the top was mustard with vinegar for the mussels. Thanks?


I ordered a Brugse Zot just because it had Bruges in the name. Its website describes it as "The one and only townbeer of Bruges." I'm going to start saying townbeer a lot more I think.


When the battle was over I'd eaten probably half the ocean. I have all the muscles and I ate all the mussels. There's a good pun in there somewhere. I'm sure of it. 






It started to rain and finally the umbrella I'd been lugging around all day became useful.


Even better than keeping me dry it allowed me to scoff at the sodden tourists who had not planned ahead. Sad!




I will confess to singing a bit in the rain on the walk back to the hotel. No one was around and I do what I want.