Another day of rest

I spent much of the day today resting. I booked hostels in Amsterdam and London and did a bit of reading on the areas. Tomorrow I leave for Amsterdam for 2 days. I’ll be sure to keep you posted on what all occurs.

-P

In any case…

Today I spent the day resting. After the bike trip and my injury (sprained ankle – long story), I really needed it. After dropping H off at work, T and I went shopping for groceries, looked for a certain souvenir (garden gnome – don’t ask), and came back to the house. The trip to find the garden gnome was unsuccessful, and after coming home I fixed some lunch, and did some laundry.

Having a sprained ankle makes life hard… especially when you have to walk everywhere. I took a rest in the afternoon and then went to the train station to buy tickets for my trip to Amsterdam this week and my trips to London/Paris next week. After spending a small fortune on travel tickets (via Thalys and Eurostar), me, H, and T went to visit Emmie (a friend) at the market in St. Gilles. We bought fresh foods and went up to her flat and enjoyed the scenery and evening on the terrace.

I love the calmness and what seems to be the idyllic nature of the city. I’m trying to soak every bit of it in. Tomorrow will be another calm, but full day I presume.

-P

Money Spent:
Round trip ticket from Brussels to Amsterdam = 52 Euro
Tickets from Brussels to London to Paris to Brussels = 193 Euro
Brussels Metro Card (10 uses) = 10 Euro

Back in Brussels

I’m back in Brussels as the title suggests. I’m ridiculously tired and injured from the trip so I will leave a link to some photos from the trip for your amusement:

Bike Trip photos

I’ll retro-post tomorrow.

Enjoy.

-P

Retropost – Bike trip: Day 1

I am writing this post and the following retroposts after my recent 500 km bike trip. I would have written/posted them sooner, but had no internet access so the posts had to wait.

On this first date of the bike trip (the departure date), the 3 of us (me, H, and T) started the morning off with a hearty breakfast and finished packing and loading the bikes up. I had no idea it was going to be such a long day. The 80 km we had to travel was not the problem; the wind and the heavy luggage coupled with a bike that was slightly larger than I was used to all made the trip a bit more challenging.

Being from a hot climate, I was not used to seeing such lush and green landscapes. The cows, sheep, bugs, and horses were abundant, and it was nice to ride the bikes and get the fresh air and wind blowing in my face. I took several pictures of the cities to start with on the trip, but after realizing that every city had a church of architectural interest, and a city centre of equal awesomeness, I gave up on taking pictures of everything and became a bit more selective of things I photographed.

We took several short stops through cities visiting cafe’s, pub’s, and city centres of interest. The first city we stopped in was Dendermonde; a quaint city with a cute center and charming homes. After our visit to the city, we continued on until going to a pub where I had my first encounter with kas kroketten; a Belgium dish consisting of fried cheese (I know, sinful). The pub gave me a warm feel for how typical old timey pubs look and it was nice to escape the dreary cold and cloudy weather for lunch.

We hopped back on the bikes and rode until we got into the city of Brugge. Throughout the whole trip we camped in cabins (trekkershut – about 37 Euro/night). After a bit of a rest, we took a bus into the city and walked around. I immediately loved the architecture, the cafes, and the culture. I have several photos posted on my picasa site you can have a look. The pictures say more than I could write here of course. All in all, the day was everything and more than I could hope for.

I remember my shoulders being in pain from hunching over the bike and poor postural technique, but in the end, I was so excited from the cultural experience, all the pain was forgotten… until later in the bike trip.

-P

Money Spent:
Coffee: 1.50 Euro
Lunch: 8 Euro
Dinner: 7 Euro

Prepping

Today was a bit of a lazy day here in Brussels. I caught up on some rest and packed for the one week long bike trip me, H, & T are about to go on through Belgium. I was a bit restricted on what I could pack for the week as I can only take what I can carry on the bike, so we’ll see how it all works out in the end.

In the afternoon, we made an outing to see some of the Chinese and Japanese building contributions to the 1958 World Expo held in Brussels:

After that, we headed over to get some ice cream at a parlor located behind Eddie Merckx home/bike shop. Merckx is essentially the European cycling version of Lance Armstrong.

We ended up coming back to the house quite full of ice cream, so T and I went on a 20km bike ride through the countryside. I love riding here in the country. The air is so clean and the scenery like nothing I have seen; so lush, green, and peaceful.

I won’t be posting for the next week since I will be on the bike trip, but I’ll be sure to take pictures and post lots when I return.

-P

Parlez vous Flemish?

I fortunately got a great night’s sleep last night and was able to wake up at a decent hour this morning. I think I am over my jet lag (even though I am still awake at 1:45 am).

After eating breakfast, T dropped me off at the train station and I was on my way to explore the city. The first thing I saw at the train station was the Atomium:


It is a monument built for the 1958 Expo and the Brussels World’s Fair. Its a good 335 ft tall and forms the shape of a unit cell of an iron crystal magnified 1.65 x 10^11 times!

Becoming oriented with the trains is quite tricky. They’ve supposedly re-done them in the last month and several people are finding it confusing (at least I’m not the only one). If you decide to go to Brussels, I highly suggest taking the trains, while they can get crowded at rush hours, they are the cheapest and most efficient means of getting around.


I first had meant to go to the European Union building district, but instead I walked the wrong way and ended up at the Cinquantenaire which wasn’t a bad thing.

There are very lush, green parks in the city, and Jubelpark is a nice one to walk/eat a lunch in.


There’s a military museum and Autoworld museum currently inside the wings of the building, and I had no interest in seeing either. I walked through the park and went about searching for the next thing.

After all of that, I walked to the Palais de Justice (court house) and was amazed by the architecture of the building. A lot of it was covered in scaffolding, but even the inside was nice.

Left: Outside of courthouse
Right: Picture of the apex of the courthouse from the inside

On my walk from the court house to the King/Queens palace, I saw many neat things that I wish the U.S. would implement…

The bicycle idea is a nice thing to have for tourists, or even for locals who want to minimize their carbon footprint. The recycling option is lovely too!

The shops here are expensive and either completely elegant or ridiculously tacky. I haven’t decided yet how the people are here, tacky, or just spendy. In any case, I made it to the Queen’s palace just before the rain started pouring.


the Grand Place,

and other touristy things in the center of town. I mentioned yesterday that Belgium waffles actually come from Belgium and are consumed regularly by Belgiums. I enjoyed a waffle and walked around the city:

I realized the time a bit late, and tried to hurry back to meet T. I didn’t realize that the trains experienced a ‘rush hour’ and sure enough I made it in time to experience it. People literally pushing each other on and off the train. When it gets so crowded, you have to be careful of pick-pockets, and I learned quickly of this.

Finally, I made it to the train station to meet H&T and we made our way back to the house. It was nice to have a relaxing evening after a long day of getting lost in the city.

-P

Bon Voyage!

In case you don’t already know, I’m in Europe!
I actually landed in Brussels this morning and have been awake for the last 24 hours (with a couple hours of sleep on the plane).

Everything about the flight went well except my flight to Brussels was delayed due to cargo door mishaps. In any case, I am now at H&T’s house.

I ended up spending the remainder of the day after arriving walking through the city of Brussels and checking out the Grand Place, and the shopping area off of the Rougier stop on the metro, and I even saw the Manneken-Pis statue (it is much smaller than people/sources would have you believe). Believe it or not, Belgium waffles are actually from and consumed in Belgium! I of course had to indulge a bit and enjoyed a nice real Belgium waffle. After that, me and T stopped for coffee at a trendy cafe in the Grand Place square and the rain started pouring.

The first thing I noticed when I came to Brussels was the lush green vegetation… I now know that it gets so green here because of all of the rain. After some of the rain subsided, we picked up H and came back to the house for a bike ride. I’m super excited about biking in the countryside, and can’t wait to see more of the country.
I’m not too sure what tomorrow will bring, I will probably look up some sites and recommended places online here soon, but I’ll be sure to update you and post pictures.

Silly me, I forgot to take the camera into town today 🙁

Until Tomorrow!

-P

Post Mortem

I had a post mortem meeting at school to discuss last minute course troubles/grades/etc, and then my mother and I went to various places and said goodbye to friends.


I’m glad that I’m leaving for Europe in a day, if anything, my mind is too occupied with stuff to realize that I’ve left Austin for good. No more daily rambles through the park, or to the lake, or downtown… No, now I’ve got to come up with a new routine and re-discover all that is ‘me’.


The Cure: Friday I’m in Love

-P

Moved out.

I’ve officially moved out of my apartment in Austin, and am currently unpacking boxes and re-packing for my trip to Europe. It isn’t even the middle of May and we are already getting temps in the upper 90’s here in Texas. It will be nice to go to a milder climate in Europe.

There’s not too much to report on here, mostly more of the same… (grading, packing, fun)

I finally got around to taking pictures of the sweater I recently finished knitting….

This is the first sweater I’ve ever knit. There’s quite a bit of maths to consider when you knit, and that definitely made the knitting fun and exciting.The pouf-y sleeves are my favourite part!

I wish the weather would stay cool so I could keep knitting, but alas, I think the knitting will stop until next season.

Until next time.

-P

tying things up

In my final days here in Austin, I’ve mostly been finishing up unfinished business and have been doing much of the same things I do for fun normally. Since it is the last week of classes, labs have been dying down and I’ve got more time on my hands as a result. I’ve gotten to finishing a couple of knitting projects. Here is the heterocyclic hat that I’ve finally gotten around to posting:

The hat has the molecules caffeine, theobromine, penicillin, and serotonin inscribed all around in a duplicate stitch. Let me tell you, weaving in the ends at the end was NOT fun. It wouldn’t have been so bad had I not chosen to colour code the side chains, but I think the finished product looks better with the added colour.

Yesterday after lab, Nick and I went to Huts (W. Sixth) for a last 2 for 1 burger night here. Huts has THE BEST VEGGIE BURGERS EVER. If you’re ever in the Austin area, go on either a Monday or Wednesday night, for the best taste you will ever try.

-P