so this past weekend my sweet sister, cari, came to visit me alllll the way from carentan. the weekend had an eventful start. there was a train strike on friday and all the trains throughout the country were off schedule. the train stations were disasters everywhere, people with luggage all over the place.
i spent the day in lille friday with luli, joe, and melissa. we took care of some very important paperwork then did some very important shopping at h&m. we went to meet cari at lille-europe and it was a mad house. we had a café while we waited--her train was delayed only about 20 minutes. so glad it wasn't longer than that (we were starving). when they posted her platform we walked down and for the first time in my life i saw two trains attached together to make one train. lots of people apparently wanted to come to lille for the weekend from paris. i can't blame them.
we decided on crêpes for dinner again..which is never a bad idea. i branched out of my usual crêpe box and had a savory one rather than sweet. cheese, mushrooms, ham and an easy over egg. it was incredible. i can't believe i almost went 25 years without having had a savory crêpe.
we took the train back to armentières and went to bed early--we had a big day ahead of us on saturday. we went to brugge, belgium. we wanted to leave early from armentières to catch the train at 9:05 from lille across the border. we of course missed our train. here's why:
ever since i can remember, before my family would go on a trip, my dad would do a 'roll call' of sorts. call out things to be sure we remembered to pack them. cell phone. cell phone charger. computer. computer charger. drivers license. plane tickets. underwear. socks. pants. you know..the usual. as a joke i did this in the hall way before we all headed out the door. "does everyone have their passports? train tickets? shoes?" we laughed. ha. ha. ha. of course we have all of those things! we get to the train station with just enough time for people to buy their tickets for the 8:21 train to lille who don't have passes. one person was running a bit behind and missed my 'roll call'. she didn't have their train ticket to belgium. i said to myself 'well, it's kind of pushing it, but there's another train that leaves at 8:36 to get to lille.' so then i said to her 'we can just take the next train. run back home and get it, we'll wait here with your stuff.' it was early. 8:15ish. i hadn't had coffee. what day was it again? oh, that's right, it was saturday and all the train times are different on the weekends than they are during the week. when was the next train again? 8:36? nope. 9:38. so our hopes to catch the 9:05 train to brugge flew right out the window. the next train to brugge was at 13:05.
on the bright side, i got to show cari around lille. we walked around vieux lille, had croissants for breakfast, and got sandwiches from 'paul' for lunch. and we played outside of the opera:
we got on the train at 13:00 and were in brugge by 14:45. another surprise of the weekend: the national language in belgium is not french. i don't know how i didn't know this. i thought they were one of those countries (like canada) that has two national languages. i thought it was dutch AND french. in canada, every sign has to be in both english and french. i figured it'd be the same thing in belgium. wrong. (i really should start doing a bit of research before i travel places.) dutch is not easy to understand. it's a strange mixture between english and german, so i can read it easily enough, but can not even come close to understanding the spoken language.
we took a rocky (understatement) bus ride to our hostel and got everything settled in our rooms then headed out to the center of town. we walked the wrong direction (of course) but finally made it. we were on the hunt to find 3 things: waffles, chocolate, and beer. it was the easiest thing i've ever done. there were all three all over the place. my personal heaven--chocolate everywhere. practically every other shop we walked past was a chocolatier. and in case you were wondering, belgian chocolate is everything everyone has ever said it is. it. is. amazing. we found a tiny place to have waffles for dinner. since i had a savory crêpe for dinner on friday, i convinced myself it was just fine to have a waffle covered in hot chocolate syrup, bananas, and whipped cream for dinner on saturday. i threw in a cup of hot chocolate just to make sure i got my fill of all things chocolate while i was there. it was melt in your mouth delicious.
we finished with our wonderful meal then walked to the main square. this is what took my breath away:
there were horse drawn carriages everywhere. we walked down so many charming, gorgeous streets i could look at my pictures every single day and never get tired of them. the only thing i wish was that it hadn't rained practically the whole time we were there. but even in the rain the town had this sort of romantic charm to it that i've never noticed a town having before. we were walking down streets and came across canal after canal, it was gorgeous. we heard it was 'the venice of the north' and i was certain it couldn't compare. it did. in its own way.
we went out to a tiny place called 'bar des amis' we met so many different people, it's incredible how friendly people are here. it's so easy to talk to people. also i can add a new beer to my list of favorites: leffe blonde. if you can find it back home, try it. it's yummy.
while we were walking through the square on saturday we noticed a big sign with salvidor dali's name on it. it was an exhibit. it was closed by the time we got there, but when we walked up we saw that you could by a combination ticket for the dali exhibit AND a picasso exhibit for 11 euros. so amazing. the picasso exhibit was from a private collection of picasso, matisse, braque, miro, and others. it was the most incredible thing i've ever seen. we spent hours walking through hall after hall and room after room of original sketches and paintings. a few favorites:
it was the perfect way to spend a rainy day. after the exhibits we had lunch at the most amazing restaurant. really the only thing amazing about it was the food. a "petit" spaghetti that could have fed 3 people. it was warm and perfect. we had to head back a bit early, cari had trains to catch from lille to head back to carentan. we all fell asleep on the train back, we were exhausted.
next weekend: carentan to visit cari.