We woke up early in Paris, packed our bags, ate a quick breakfast and waved goodbye to the apartment. I could proudly walk down the street, baguette in hand, eating straight out of it, feeling like a true French woman. We quickly found the bus station and in no time we reached the train station Gare de Nord. We boarded the train to Amiens, then to Lille Flanders, to Courtrai and finally to Bruges, where we intended to spend the day. And the moment we sat ourselves down in the first train it started raining and never stopped. It was a very cold and very wet day. On the train I started reading Anne Frank’s Diary, a book I now regret not having read sooner, because I’ve really been missing out. It captured me from the first page and has definitely already secured a place on my favourites list.
All the trains thankfully came on time and we made it to Bruges without any trouble, arriving around 1 pm. It was Zuzanna’s aunt (whom we would be living with in Ghent for the next two days) who had suggested that we visit Bruges on our way to Ghent. And I’m really glad she did: Bruges was a beautiful town with charming old streets and medieval buildings and multiple canals encircling the old town. And even though it was pouring down, the town thankfully hadn’t lost its magic, so after getting used to the initial shock of the cold I was quite enjoying myself, while Zuzanna wasn’t as enthusiastic.
We pretty quickly found refugee in Asian restaurant Marco Polo Noodles where we ate probably the best noodle soup I’ve ever tasted - which could have something to do with us being wet and cold from the rain. I think I finished my bowl before Zuzanna had even gotten through half of hers.
When we stepped into the restaurant, dripping wet, with our giant bags on, everyone’s heads immediately turned to us, I can imagine that we must’ve been some sight.
After having eaten, the rain had slowed to a heavy drizzle, and we once again braved the weather (this time with an extra sweater on). We walked to the main square where we saw the bell tower and the town hall,
before continuing through the town down to the canals, taking a detour past an old church on the way. The canals were stunning, and there was something about the weather that almost enhanced the buildings’ beauty, as if naturally upping the contrast.
We walked by the canals for a bit, before deciding that we had spend enough time in the rain, and so we instead went to Vero café on another square. Here we got cake (they had a vegan option!) and delicious hot chocolate - the Belgians really know their chocolate.
The rain had only worsened outside while we ate, so we stayed inside for a little while, relaxing and reading, before going to the chocolate museum just next door. It was a cute little museum, interesting and funny (and very appropriate when in Belgium), but we had to hurry around a bit, as the demonstration would start at 4.45 pm, and the museum would close at 5 pm. We had a great time none the less and the demonstration was fun as well. When the museum closed we slowly started on our way back to the train station. We took a bit of a detour on our way back past a famous church, down by the canals again and past the old hospital. I thought it was a joyful walk back, but Zuzanna was not a fan of the rain, as it had rained heavily since we stepped outside, and really started pouring down about midway to the station. Our shoes got soaked, our bags pretty wet as well and it even started to seep through our rain coats just a bit - So Zuzanna tried to find cover whenever possible.
It all just seemed like a part of the adventure to me, and as seen on the picture below, the trip was a bundle of mixed feelings.
We caught the train to Ghent at 6 pm and arrived 30 minutes later, Zuzanna’s uncle, Jelger, picking us up at the train station. We drank a cup of tea at their house just outside of Ghent and talked for a while, Jelger turning out to be incredibly sweet and easy going. We ate a lovely dinner, Jelger serving amazing homemade French fries, something the Belgians apparently take very seriously and are very proud of. He had also, sweetly, made sure to buy some vegan nuggets for Zuzanna and I to go with the fries instead of meat. After dinner we went to bed, though I couldn’t help but read a bit more of Anne Frank’s diary, completely sucked into her writing and world, not quite comprehending that it had once been real.
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