After a long first day and night in Brussels and some much needed jet lag recovery sleep, we set off for Bruges at 8am Monday morning. As we waited for our train, we found a group of young Belgians doing some sort of community service who were wearing neon-yellow colored vests that matched Geoff’s jacket. We sent him away with them, as we thought that community service would be a more valuable experience for him than a day of traipsing through Bruges.
The train ride provided a mini-tour of the Belgium countryside, but most of the team missed the scenery due to an important debate: New York versus Los Angeles, which is the better city? Just about the entire team was in favor of New York, with only Bo Abrams (the newest member of the class of ’14) arguing in favor of LA.
We finally arrived at the Bruges train station at 10am, and our tour guide Seymour told us, “Go explore the city, we’ll meet back here at 6:30.” As we made our way into the city, the team split up into three or four smaller groups. Brett became the ring leader of a group determined to sample every type of waffle in Bruges (entering Tuesday morning, Brett has consumed 11 waffles here in Belgium), Steve headed a group that set out to look at every church in the city, and we (Eli and Geoff) joined Mark and Bo in conducting cultural interviews of the locals. One old man told us that he didn’t like Americans, and when we asked him why, he told us, in broken English, “I don’t know, it’s just a feeling I have.” He happened to have a spider dangling from his lip as he talked to us, and naturally we couldn’t help but laugh, which probably didn’t help his perception of Americans.
After a few hours of exploration in our separate groups, the whole team met up in the main square to get lunch.
At this point, it became clear that Geoff had fully transitioned into his European swag:
After lunch, we went back out in our various groups. We wanted to try and see as much as we could since we only had eight hours until our train back to Brussels. Most of the team continued to enjoy the sights of Bruges, while Eli, Geoff, Mark and Vern continued to interact with the locals. The three of us ran into Seymour and were having a conversation and some chocolates, when Mark pointed out an interesting looking dog. We all turned and stared at the dog as it passed, and at first were a little confused when its owner turned and began yelling at us. We quickly realized that he thought we were all staring at his wife, which made us laugh hysterically and only made him more upset. Luckily his dogs dragged him away before he could approach us.
As our group continued to wander the streets looking for people to interview, we ran into Steve, Louis, Brett, and Henry. We made the poor decision of joining them in their church hunt. As a result, this group spent the next three hours wandering from one end of the city to the other and back again, all the while only finding two open churches. Needless to say, we learned a valuable lesson from this experience: never follow Steve.
Thanks to Henry and Brett’s navigational skills, we finally figured out where we were and made it back to the train station with some time to spare. Unfortunately, this meant that there was time for Steve to harass everyone on the team by throwing chunks of his gigantic chocolate bar. Three hours later, Henry was still pulling pieces of chocolate out of his hood. After a long, twelve hour day, we finally arrived back in Brussels.
At this point, some guys passed out, exhausted from the day’s activities. Those who had some energy left decided to work out. Greg Rosnick led a group consisting of Eli, Louis, Winkler, Dorvil, and James on a run through the city. This run was a bit of a tour in itself, as we ended up exploring some of the less touristy sections of the city. We stopped in a very dark park where we did some pull ups on the roof of an old picnic area, and almost got mauled by a mountain lion. Somehow we made it back to the hotel alive.
Our next post will have the details of our first game against the Ghent Dragons as well as our trip to the American Embassy. And again, see below for more photos of our day in Bruges.
- Geoff and Eli