Sunday, 22 September 2013

Passing By Town - Gent

Days were numbered as Christmas was coming close and I had promised my uncle and aunt that I would drop by in York then. My cuz just had his first born son, and my uncle was leaving me messages saying everything was hectic … so I decided to skip hop a few more towns and try to make it to Yorkshire by Christmas eve instead of a week earlier.

Gent was one of those force to go places.

Its different from unplanned like Antwerp, Bruges, Bratislava for this was forced to go. Somewhat like Igounomenitsa in Greece I was originally planning to hit Luxemburg directly from Bruges, but there were no hostels on a Saturday night. Left with no choice I stopped in gent for a night and visited as much as I could for the short amount of time I was there. 

It was a fascinating town but not enough to hold me here even if I had time to do so. I did try finding a jazz bar which was suppose to play everyday but was disappointed when no one played when I was there.

Still at lease there old streets to explore and a ‘little glass street’

Best shot of the day … sneakers artwork

Sneakers Artwork

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Blood of Christ - Brugges

Brugge Beer
Belgium is pretty small and with high speed trains it was so easy to get from one place to another …. All within a few hours … for a price … Yet it was not the pricy train tickets like in Germany or Switzerland hence I was happy to hop around more frequently.

Initially my plan was to visit Brussels … that was the only city I marked out during the initial planning stage back before I started … but then I knew nothing about Belgium other than the chocolates that friends and family buys back as treats from airports.

Lucky thing was that all the hostel in Belgium had this small little local city tourist map in cartoon form that also recommends other towns and city in Belgium. So next stop after Antwerp was Brugges.

Local one way train ticket was 13.70 Euro .

Brugges was an amazing old old old …. Super old town feel where the whole inner city was like a town in medieval time frozen. Try to ignore the electricity and modern plumbing and some modern lights but other than that it was fascinating.

Towards the center of the old city the square opens up into majestic buildings such as clock towers and town halls and the mystical church which I read in the lonely planet book about a relic.

Brugge Old Town Square
Attendant watching the Holy Blood of Christ
It took me a while to find the church since I mistakenly went into the town hall but there it was small, not so glamorous, yet attracted pilgrimage all over the world. The church apparently claimed to have a tiny bottle of Christ’s blood in their possession and was on display for any whom might want to see, touch ( only the tube not the blood itself ), photograph, or pray. 

I being curious of course would not miss going in to see it with my own eyes. There was not many people I guess in winter. Christian’s would stroll up to the attendant which sole job was to watch the tube which contained Christ’s Blood while people place their hand on top of the tube and say a silent prayer. The attendant would then wipe the top of the tube after the first person had left for the next person to repeat the same process. Then there was of course the tourist which would stroll up and politely ask for a photograph, Click and on their way ….

As of how it look like … I guess you just have to visit Brugge

Basilica of the Holy Blood

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Antwerp …

Antwerp Train Station
Three nights in Antwerp and I would say it’s a nice and peaceful getaway from my holiday. The hostel (Abhostel) had a guitar that I played every night once everyone was clear of the common room … it was a super huge common room too and barely anyone around the hostel. Plus time I picked up a book called ‘The six scared stones’and finish it in the two days I was in the hostel. A good read only if it did end … to be continue on the second book …. What ?? Shit !! I have somehow picked up a series and had no way of getting the sequel to the books.

There is not much to do in Antwerp unfortunately unless you are on a shopping trip for apparently they say it’s a fashion town. Don’t ask me whys that but I guess it’s a local branding to mark an attraction to tourist ?? It was stated in the guide book as well but as any backpacker … shopping … nah … window shopping is the best I could live with.

Antwerp Shopping District
For the art buff, if you know him the painter Ruben was from Antwerp and his house has became a museum of sorts. I visited the house and it was surprisingly good filled with many painting I don’t understand … the other main attraction was the towns cathedral with was filled with Rubens painting of huge scale … I mean the paintings hung was larger than a normal human height .. It was unique in its own way.

Not so well advertised, Antwerp also had a red light district very similar to Amsterdam only the girls were not as hot or pretty as Amsterdam. Look for the top right corner of the local town map. Bearing North west

Out of the blue Dad sent me a sms message 3 am in the morning asking if I was alright. I replied yes and went back to sleep. … later that day when the hours were suitable for communication I was asking what was the sms for instead of a normal watsapp message which was free. Apparently somewhere in Belgium there had been a crazy man shooting people in the streets and a few had died. Well carry on with the holiday … onwards to Bruges !!

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

How to go from Holland to Belgium for 3 euro

I was woken up in the morning by Tweety Pie housemate coming back from Rotterdam as early as 6 am in the morning. It was ruckus at the house and before I knew it I was sitting and lighting a cigarette trying to wake up slowly. On the table I observed lied so many little white powder, pills, and some weed among all the trash of can drinks and food ….

What’s this I asked ?? …. Estacy …. Coke …. MDMA …. Much I dunnu …. And weed naturally …

Netherlands is a cool country I said …. with all the drugs being legal ….

All this … is not legal … YOU never saw this, replied the African brothers ….

You wannar any of this “Drug Tourist” ?? They asked ….

If I wasn’t planning to move on to another country the very same day who knows what my decision might be. I politely declined the offer not knowing how strict border crossing in Europe would be. I remember some had checks on trains and busses and sometime you barely knew when you cross the border but I was in no manner about to risk it.

First option was train … but Tweety pie gave a sketchy description of how a friend of a friend of hers went to Antwerp by local bus … only a few euros and only an hour or two ride she said. I decided to give it a go and followed the first instruction which was to go to the bus terminal in Tilburg … ask for how to get to Antwerp by local bus …..

( for those hoping to find a detail description … I am sorry I have forgotten exactly how I did it )

At lease I can give comfort that it can be done … I remembered asking a lot of people for help along the way …. In general it went like this

1. From Tillburg bus station ask around for which bus go to Antwerp and hopefully some kind soul will tell you to wait in line for a bus that will take you to the border where you need to get down and change bus company.

2. Get on the bus …. Double check with bus driver

3. End of the line for the bus and everyone will get down …. Just follow

4. Ask around like mad again for which line to queue up to go to Antwerp … normally most people go back on that bus anyway but just in case … ASK

5. Get on the bus …. Look out for Antwerp

You know you have just beaten the tourist traps when you learn how to cross one country to another for a mere few coins drop into the public local bus transport.