Mike’s Travel Diaries: Part 2

Just a warning before you read: This travel diary is pretty much just an itinerary of things I’ve done in Europe, with unneccesarily detailed accounts of the food I’ve eaten and my ignorant thoughts about Europeans. All of this is unedited from my travel journal, much of which was written while intoxicated. Theres really no reason you should read this.
Oh, and here’s Part 1

Day 3: The day when I found out that Sacre Coeur totally beats Notre Dame
Finally, some decent sleep. Solid, from midnight to 8. Alyssa was sleeping in so I walked around town for a while. I found a cool little bakery and grabbed myself a “pain aux raisons” which was delicious. I nabbed an orange juice from a corner shop and came back to the hostel to wake Alyssa. She got ready while I watched the A-Team dubbed in French. I was hoping they’d give Monsieur T a gruff/silly sounding voice but they didn’t. We left the hotel around noon and went to a cafe around the corner. We felt like real Parisians drinking our espressos on the rainy street, smoking our stupid little cigarettes, and wishing we had berets until we got the bill and saw that we got charged 3 euros a piece. As tourists in Paris, we headed next to Notre Dame. Awesomely, it was free to enter. As with all sweet cathedrals in Europe, my favorite part was the greatness of the architecture. I was breathless, or maybe that was from trying to smoke that cigarette earlier. We cafe hopped to another restaurant where I got mussels, steak, and caramel flan for only 12 euros. Deals. Every english speaker in Paris said that we had to see Sacre Coeur, so we decided to give that a shot. The walk was difficult, lots of steep roads, but the shops on the side of the road made it interesting. At the base of the church, the view was so amazing we decided to pay to go up to the dome. First though, we went for a quick tour of the church. Call me crazy, but I liked the look of Sacre Coeur much more than Notre Dame. We then took the 300 step journey up to the top of the dome. The view was spectacular. We could see pretty much all of Paris laid out in front of us. On our way back down I complained about the shopping system that is used in Europe with having specialty shops selling specific types of foods like cheese, meat, bakeries, and such. I guess I just don’t care for it because I value convenience so highly in shopping. Alyssa disagreed with me, but neither of us had compelling arguments. Oh well, we walked around town for a bit, trying to find reasonable places to shop at. I wanted a pair of shorts so I could run in the mornings and Alyssa needed new flats, whatever that means. Eventually, I found a thrift store that had prices I could somewhat afford. Alyssa found a reasonable pair of flats as well, I guess. We went back to the apartment to prep for the night. I saw a message from one of Gwen’s friends saying that we should meet at the nunnery. We got there late, so we just ended up getting sandwiches from a cafe. I originally ordered a strawberry tart with my sandwich and the guy got mad when I tried to change it to the (cheaper) apple tart. After two minutes of great arguing (in French!) from me, I paid for the strawberry tart and we hit the road. When I got back, he had given me the apple tart, and it tasted horrible. Oh, but on the metro ride back, I met two cute Australian girls. We talked about how they’d be in Amsterdam at the same time as me and how they liked That 70’s Show. Alyssa pointedly ignored them (le croq monsieur blocked) and I found out when we got back that Alyssa explicitly hates Australians. We ate our sandwiches while she made fun of Australians and I silently disagreed with her. I watched some dubbed Doctor Who in French (still awesome) while she showered and I hit the sheets by 10:30. Boom, sleep scheduled.

Day 4: The day when we got to Bruges and met a crazy old guy at a bar
Up at 6:30! I feel like my dad. I strapped on my thrift store running shorts and my walking converses with no soles and hit the streets. I knew my hostel was near a central metro so I just decided to run where I felt and worry about getting lost when I was totally lost. I found one of the large gardens and ran the paths there for a while. After getting totally lost for an hour, I eventually found my way back to the hostel. I got back, showered, and bought us some juices and quiche. I bought myself a crappy razor and gave myself a crappy shave with the hotel soap as shaving cream. We packed up and got to the train station with only minutes to spare, and then we missed our train as we picked up our tickets. I bought some crappy Turkish food while waiting and we got harassed by a bunch of gypsies begging. On the train ride, for about the 20th time so far in the trip, Alyssa told me to stop talking so loudly. I’m mostly blaming this on coffee, but its still probably 20 percent just me being loud and obnoxious. I’d say that I hate feeling like a loud American, but the fact that this is the 20th time its happened, I guess I don’t care. When we arrived in Bruges, I saw waffle shops and chocolate stands, good signs! We hit the bus and arrived just outside of the hostel. Check in went find, the clerk had a really cool accent. I bet Alyssa that she was born in Scotland and moved to Canada at around age 6; Alyssa just reckoned she was from Canada. We unpacked and got excited about the “In Bruges” walking tour. Hungry, we decided to walk around the town and get some dinner. We walked around the town square and up along a lot of the side streets. Soon enough, we stopped at a mussels joint (these are huge in Bruges; every restaurant loves telling you about the deal that they have with mussels and french fries). I got the Flemish stew with fries. It was super rich, and the Belgian beer left me totally full. After watching the waiters hit on tourists for an hour, we went to a put that I had seen earlier, Muppets! Quite the dichotomy: the pub was called Muppets, and featured kermit the frog on the front of the building, while it was also the scariest and most uninviting bar once you got inside. The three people inside chain-smoked while shooting snooker and watching a movie where Michael Caine trotted people. It was intense. We drank a beer and played a game of gin and got the hell out. Ready for a more social bar, we found a great big sports bar playing some good tunes. The place was America rock themed and had all the US license plates on the wall, as well as a Chicago bus stop sign. We started talking to a local who was quite the character. He was a hairy, old native of Bruges, and probably the most interesting person I met this trip. I don’t remember all of our 3 hour conversation (on account of him buying us pints throughout the night), but here are some things that I recall him saying:

-He is the third greatest hunter in Belgium

-His son is in a more elite squad than the Green Berets

-The Belgian police force hires him every year to train their officers

-The Muppets bar that we went to is completely run by Belgian ex-convicts

-A story about how he took his son to a brother for his 18th birthday.

-How he became a member of an Irish clan

-He has a tattoo that reads “I’m From Belgium, Fuck The World”

We left the pub just after midnight and walked our way home. We stopped at a corner store and had some delicious premade Belgian waffles. While there, the owner stuck me with his sticker pricing gun and left a price on my sweatshirt. I was 18 euros. Our hostel room was packed and hot. I had to go to the bathroom midway through the night and had forgotten that the hostel shares the bathroom with a bar. I had a drunken conversation with a hot British clubber while I was in my boxers; it was weird.


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