Sunday, February 13, 2011

Thursday, February 3, 2011--Hello Belgium

We left early to catch a train to Belgium.  We had to stow all our luggage in the station and found a section of coin-operated lockers, which came complete with broken stalls, money-eating dispensers, suspicious looking drunks and reprobates hovering about the margins, and the pungent odor of puke and urine in all the lockers.  In short, we had a time there.  The main stop from Paris was Brussels, which is not supposed to be the best tourist destination except for two sites, the first of which is the Grand Place, which has some magnificent buildings.

From there wee headed down a side street to see the famous (infamous) Peeing Boy of Brussels.  We found him, but he gives new meaning to underwhelming and ridiculous.  Instead of a large or even medium-sized fountain, he is barely visible aside from the costumes in which the locals dress him.  This day he appeared in top hat and tails--quite the sophisticate.  However, he was exceeded in fascinating by some of his replicas in the trashy tourist shops nearby.

the boy himself
chocolate boy

rainbow boys
bondage boys!!!
 After buying some peeing boy candies, we headed back to the station and jumped on a train for Bruges.  Arriving at that station, we managed to find an articulate but doubtless dishonest cabbie who took us on a circuitous ride to our bed and breakfast, which was two blocks from the center of this gorgeous town.  Our host was a lovely person, who immediately pulled out a map, pointed out some of the major locations and sites, and gave us tips on restaurants.  After unpacking a few things, we headed over to Market Square, which is a spectacle of "gorgeous gorgeosity" (long live Anthony Burgess, young Alex, and Stanley Kubrick) .  Without a clear plan, we just began wandering and wound up in the oldest section of the city, referred to in Flemish as the Forgotten Ones because this was formerly the area for the poorest of the poor.  We came to Damme Canal and the remote gate to the city and walked along the canal where we saw a pair of windmills.  Famished, we stopped at a nearby cafe for salad, sandwiches, and superb Belgian beer (the best of the best, John).

bell tower

market square

city gate

windmill cafe

From there we had to get our bearings and head back to our lodgings and call it a night.

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