Brussels, Belgium

Are we in Belgium or Nebraska?

Woke up on my own around 07:45. Much easier to get out of bed when you know you don’t have to do much of anything today: no packing, moving, schlepping stuff around. Rode into town with Brian, first with the bus then a short subway ride. Sitting on a curb on the edge of the Grote Markt – it’s actually a bit chilly in the shade, which is perfect for me. Sometimes there is sun, sometimes dramatic clouds – there is a nice quality to the light (Hollands lucht, in Belgium?)

I was debating going to the Musee des Beaux Arts – the mention of Brueghel was tempting – but being Monday the decision was made for me (it’s only open Tues-Sun). Guess I’ll just have to drink a Belgian beer instead. It’s a rough life.

It’s good to be on the trail
from where my heart set sail
Putting anchor down for friends
and good beer

I managed to wait until after noon to find the brewpub that my friend Dersk mentioned. I had a sampler of four: the blonde was ok, but the ambree (?) was nasty, I thought. Tripel was good, and the geuze was nice.

This is a perfect day. Great temperature, sun, breeze. Calm…interesting, new sights. I’ve got lots of issues to resolve with my gear, but I think it will work out, and days like today remind me why I am trying.

I tried to find a typical Belgian place for lunch: Cafe Patrick had a yummy sounding onion soup on the menu, but is closed on Mondays. The Metropole is fancy…with fancy prices. Spinnekopke might be nice if you like mussels mussels and more mussels. So… I had a very nice pizza. :-)

Random thoughts:

Everyone speaks French. I was trying to hold on to Dutch as long as possible, but I’ve traveled 2h 45m and my foreign language skills are already nearly useless.

I’m finding that I take better photos if I think “document” rather than “photograph”. Well, at least I think so, maybe nobody else does. :-)

Over lunch I started reading a book by Ryszard Kapuscinski, Travels with Herodotus, an author a Polish friend of mine recommended. Took about 1/2 a sentence to get hooked.

This was only about crossing the border – somewhere. It made no difference which one, because what was important was not the destination, the goal, the end, but the almost mystical and transcendent act. Crossing the border.

Echos of Stephen Stills, Thoroughfare Gap… “It’s no matter, no distance: it’s the ride.”