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Showing posts from August, 2010

Bruges

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Tuesday, 3 August

Celine and I went up to Bruges for the day.  While I had done lots of planning for my time in France, I had done very little planning for Belgium since I knew I would be staying with Celine and her family, who would have plenty of recommendations.  It was about 2 hours by train to Bruges, and well worth the trip - it is a beautiful town - "the Venice of the North," with all its canals.  However, its beauty has also made it something of a tourist trap, and the streets are crowded with chocolate shops, gaufre stands, and lace stores.  (Not that all of this is a bad thing!)

Bruges is in Flanders, the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium.  I had always thought of Belgium as a French speaking country, with Dutch as an afterthought.  Not the case here!  All the signs are in Dutch, though it seems everyone speaks French, too, and usually English as well.  Why oh why are the States so monolinguistic?

The streets are very picturesque, and the whole town looks a little as …

Bruxelles, part II: tourism

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I stayed just outside of Brussels for 5 nights with the grandmother of my good friend from high school, Celine.  On Monday, 2 August and Wednesday, 4 August we went into the Brussels to explore the city a little.  Here is a brief overview of what we did.

Monday, 2 August

In the morning, we made our way down to the Atomiom.  This huge structure, representing an iron crystal but many millions of times bigger, was built for the 1958 world exhibition in Brussels.  Today, it is a museum about the exhibition and about immigration into Belgium - kind of an unusual combination.

All around the Atomium are some of the remains of the world fair: grand avenues, and some of the pavillions of other countries.  Even today, this remains an area primarily frequented by tourists, as it is somewhat outside of Brussels.

When you go into the atomiom, you go up into the different spheres to see different exhibits.  The top sphere offers a great view over the surrounding area and Brussels.


After a couple of h…

Bruxelles, part I: theft and food

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Celine and I took the train from Amsterdam to Brussels in the afternoon of July 31.  We hurried through the city to get to our train on time, but reallt there was no rush - our train was delayed 15 minutes.  This was a minor problem when we arrived in Bruxelles Central - we missed the first train to Genval, but they run every hour so we just waited a little while for the next one.  During the extra time, Celine looked for a phone to call her grandmother (note - there are also no public phones in Brussels, even in the train stations) and I reserved my ticket from Brussels to Avignon for the 5th. 
Ten minutes before our train to Genval, we went down to the platform.  The trains coming in before ours were delayed, and Celine went back up to the main level to make sure our train wouldn't switch to another platform.  I stayed down on the platform with our luggage: my two bags, my duffel, Celine's duffel, and Celine's backpack.  We were parked next to a huge column, with our stu…

flights & Amsterdam

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Coucou!

30 July 2010

After a three-hour layover in the City of Brotherly love, I got on my flight to Amsterdam. I flew US Airways to take advantage of a some credit left over from a previously unused flight.  I wouldn't recommend it.  It was one of the most uncomfortable flights I have ever had.  There were no individual tvs, and I was seated next to a rather corpulent man (which I suppose is not strictly the fault of the airline, but which I will blame them for in any case.)  Consequently, I got maybe one hour of shoddy sleep.  The good news, I suppose, is that since I could not sleep I was able to see the sunrise over the clouds:



I arrived in Amsterdam around 7:30 am local time.  I got my baggage with no trouble, brushed my teeth, got through customs, bought my ticket to get to Amsterdam Centraal Station on the train, and then promptly got on the train to Utrecht Centraal Station.  We passed through a couple of other Amsterdam stations (not including centraal...) and then we sta…