Friday, 14 September 2012

Where in the world am I?

Well that is a very good question that I asked myself, I really don't know where I am. For one, I cannot pronounce the name of the town to save my life, and two, I'm still not quite sure of the actual name of the town as it has two names that it goes by. I'm in Bruges, or Brugge in the northern part of Belgium. This town is exactly how I imagined Belgium when I think about it - the sweet smells of Belgian chocolate mixed in with a cool breeze of waffles is everywhere... I've already caught myself drooling over shop windows. The canals that run through here paint the town like 'Venice' so-to-speak with cobble-stone streets & bridges that run in every which direction. As I walk down the unfamiliar streets hopefully not looking too touristy (I've come to the conclusion that I do not like to look like a tourist), I am surrounded by many different languages. French, English, Dutch, Arabic, Spanish and some other languages that I cannot decipher. All in all the two whole days that I have been in Belgium have been an adventure but I'll get to that later, I need to start off from the beginning of my trip.

First of all, I need to apologize to all of my readers... maybe the three of them who occasionally look at my blog in the hopes that I have indeed posted but in all reality I just have not found the time to actually sit down and write. But have no fear, I am here.

The adventures started off the moment I boarded the plane in Calgary. I was supposed to leave around 9:30 at night, but due to typical Calgary weather never making its mind up I was delayed over two hours because of  a thunderstorm. Well after midnight I was eating my supper high in the sky overlooking the darkened Alberta while sitting next to a lovely woman who did not speak any English. When I landed at the busiest airport in the world, Heathrow, I was rushed to my connecting plane in under twenty minutes as I missed my previous flight due to the delay. I'm still astonished that I made it through at airport in the time that I did. I was exhausted, hungry, sore, wanted to change out of my clothes the moment I landed in Edinburgh, but no, I couldn't even do that because the airlines lost my luggage in London. The thing is, I didn't even care at that moment because I was to tired to waste my energy on that. Luckily the airlines delivered my 'home' the next day at my hostel.


- Edinburgh was simply amazing. If the buildings could talk they would all have stories to tell because that's how ancient they looked. The Scottish accent was just brilliant to listen to while hearing the melodies of bagpipes in the background, and the city had many things to do within walking distance.

In the 'capital of the highlands' a.k.a Inverness, the Scottish accent was definitely much thinker and harder to understand than Edinburgh (I've learnt to just smile and nod to most people now). I met a New Zealand lad there and we decided to take a trip to the Loch Ness but unfortunately we did not see Nessie.

Then came Glasgow which was my least favourite city of them all. For one, the city itself was too big and dirty and two, the hostel had mold all over the walls - was I ever glad to leave that city for Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Northern Ireland:
- I did a little bit of research into the capital Belfast before I departed on my trip but never did I think that city still had that much tension. I could only stay there for one night due to the Foofighters playing and all of the hostels/hotels were booked up but I got straight to walking along the towering peace walls that separate the Protestants from the Catholics. There are murals that cover most of their bricks depicting what happened at the time of the 'troubles' and then as I look up the barb wire is still there reminding even me not to cross over. It was an eerie feeling to say the least. At dawn, I walked to the place where the Titanic was built and launched for the very first time. In the global village hostel, I met an Aussie girl and we decided to take a bus up north to the Giants 'Causeway and stay a couple nights there.

The little town of Portrush is situated a stones throw away from the Irish Sea and it has amazing views, people and beaches.

Republic of Ireland:

- From Portrush I took a bus to the west coast city of Galway in Ireland. The hostel was also interesting, I got no sleep thanks to three French people coming in at 2:00 in the morning yelling and laughing then to top it all off one of them decided to stick by the toilet all night throwing up. I guess it's a hostel and you can't pick and chose who bunks with you. To clear my nostrils of the putrid puke smell from the previous night I decided to take a bus to the cliffs of Moher. The cliffs are hard to describe to someone who has never been there before, and pictures just don't do that place any justice. My advice - go there and see it yourself. From Galway I spent three nights in the capital city of Dublin before heading east to Liverpool, UK.


- I was in Wales for a whole twenty, maybe thirty minutes :)

United Kingdom:

- The voyage from Dublin to Liverpool consited of one taxi ride, a ferry, two trains, one bus, and a lot of walking/getting lost in between. I spent one whole day in Liverpool searching for all of The Beatles childhood homes, as well as other sights such as Penny Lane and Strawberry fields... it was definitely hard to miss Beatles memorabilia as it was everywhere in the city. I've now learnt to try and not build something up before I actually see it because I don't want to be disappointed, such as the strawberry fields. I thought that there would be security guards blocking the entrance to the enchanted fields with heavenly angels singing Hallelujah with golden harps strung around them, but sadly there was not any of the above mentioned.

Nottingham consisted of me visiting the Sherwood forest, and no, I did not find Robin Hood, though there were many imposters of him.

London was extremely busy, even more so with the Olympic paralympic games going on in the city, there is so much to see in the city it's hard to figure out where to begin. I began by walking right past the Buckingham  palace which was about 15 minute walk from the hostel that I was staying at. Trafalgar square was filled with a giant big screen tv broadcasting the games while live bands played on stage. I was quite disappointed that there were no pigeons in the square like I always imagined. Big ben, the London eye and Tower Bridge came the next day. The most interesting thing that I found in the city was in the underground at the Tate Modern museum. It was an art piece put on by Tino Sehgal that consisted of many people walking, then running to moving in a way that made them look like they were playing a childs game, then came chanting in a cultish way. This was all syncronised to lights. All of a sudden a woman comes up to me and starts telling me a story of a relationship she had in the past, and before I knew it she was gone - then another person came up to me and told me a part of his past. It was the most odd, yet highly enjoyable thing to watch and be apart of.

A couple weeks ago I was told a quote that has stuck with me throughout my trip ''You can sleep when you're dead." Somedays in a hostel sleep is a luxury that one dreams about.


- Paris was a huge eye opener trying to adjust to a new language where it seemed everyone spoke French and no English, or there were those who simply did not want to speak English. My hostel was a short walk to the Sacré-Coeur church were I got beer for 1 euro each! (and they say Paris is expensive) Well I got lost in the city after making the climb to the very top of the Eiffel tower and ended up at the Musee de louvre, or the Louvre museum to those who do not speak/read French. The most amazing thing was watching the traffic go around the Arc de triomphe. They have no road markings to dictate where you should drive, people look like they are going to rear end the car in front of them but miraculously they make it through. After spending three nights in the 'city of lights' as they call it, I headed up north to visit a small town called Bayeux.

I read about the only hostel in Bayeux before departing from Paris and I thought that it would be a breeze to find the place and get settled down. Well I did find the place no problem, the only thing I didn't realize until two hours after the fact was that the hostel actually closed down. So there I found myself in a northern town of France stranded lugging around my backpacks wondering what to do next, the only thing I could do was make my way to Caen.

I visited the beach of Juno to pay my respects to the fellow soliders that lost their lives there on D-Day 1944. It was very hard to imagine what took place there during the war, but the remaining bunkers give some insight. After strolling through the waters of Juno, I took a train to Brussels, Belgium.


- Somedays you just have to laugh and not take things so seriously when they don't 'work' out the way you planned it, this was definitely true for Brussels. I arrived in the city knowing of one hostel to stay at which was a good thirty minute walk from the train station, so I strapped my backpack on and set off to the hostel. Once I arrived there it turned out that the hostel had a fire sometime back and was still closed to do renovations, but luckily they had a poster on their door to say where the next hostel was. I strapped on my backpack again to find the next hostel. It was up the biggest hill I think I could find in Brussels! The receptionist informed me that all of the hostels within the city center were full for the next two days, and that there was one 5km out of the city. After two metros later, 40 minute walk to find the hostel which was really a sportscenter I finally laid my head down to sleep.

I took the train the next morning to a northern town called Bruges, or Brugge, and as you may recall I have already explained my time there.

I have come to the realization that backpacking is no vacation, but more like a full time job.


1 comment:

  1. Hi Jesse, reading your current blog, wow what amazing travels you have been on so far. Sorry to hear about your luck with a few hostels, but like your mom told me some hostels are really hard to find and or get to. The pictures from Juno Beach were really interesting,all the artillery and bunkers were still there, I am going to send those pictures to my dad who is 90, and was in World War 2. I will say goodbye for now, and have fun, thinking of you. Bob