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May 2017
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Mussels in Brussels

Well I have stolen away on Gabby's ´big trip´ and found myself battling the weather, a cold and wacky european keyboards but most of all enjoying myself in the lulls.

I will start first with my keyboard rant as the one i am currently using is killing me slowly, my reasoning is built up frustration will surely contribute towards a stress related illness. me venting is therapeutic so your just going to have to lump it. Basically there seems to be an alternate keyboard standard in which you all the punctuation marks and numbers are in different locations as well as the letters being jumbled. Now this may very well be the Dvorak keyboard but its not more efficient for me, let me tell you. Then in this Internet cafe we have a wonderful combination of a Qwerty keyboard mapped as the ´wacky EU´.FUN AND GAMES let me tell you!

Now that the stress relief part of the entry is over I shall move on to to fun stuff, namely TRAVEL!

Gab and I are currently in the Hague, in the Netherlands. We arrived around lunch time after a very pleasant train trip from Brugge, in Belgium, broken briefly in Roosendal in an aborted attempt to get to Willemstad. Willemstad is a very cool looking little coastal fortified town, which unfortunately for us, is a public transport black hole on Sundays and Public Holidays, note that today was both.

Brugge was brilliant. The weather was brilliant, which we directly attributed to my purchase of a golf umbrella in Brussels, and my cold significantly better, just my runny nose letting the team down. Gabby and I spend the days swanning about, eating Waffle (shared one :p) and at least I was quaffing the local beer. Peach is my new fav. I loved the building facades and cobble stoned streets lined with lace, chocolate and beer stores in a repeating pattern throughout the tourist saturation points.

On the Friday we walked amongst the school groups and on the Sat they were replaced by their parents and grand parents. But the parks were lush and lacked the either of the bus trippers. We found a bookshop with the elusive books ´Engels´. Purchased some and lazed away a few hours in a sunny park with the locals. The canals were quite stunning lined with verdant greenery and in one instance several windmills.

We also found some excellent eateries. There was a small pita place off the main square which served nothing but pitas. Fresh wholesome and Cheap! Then there was a local lunch house which served excellent local dishes at local prices, I had the Beef Burger with peppers. ie a beef burger patty with pepper sauce potato pommes and salad. Gabby got the fish with mushroom sauce, also excellent. hehe.. food has become somewhat a focus when trying to avoid the overpriced ´tourist´places which form a most efficient mechanism for separating you from your money eg 20 euros for mussels out of season MY ASS.

I have tried many of the local beers. As I said above my particular favourite was the Peach Beer, but i also tried Raspberry (sorta like red bull) and Cherry (sorta like Dr Pepper). The worst beer was one that sorta tasted akin to a flat Pepsi possibly with salt added. Thought it would make a great gravy only to find a place using it to make gravy later.

My experience of Brussels was somewhat marred by the initial poor weather. Read: cold, raining and windy. We battled or way to the various ´highlights´of the city. It was only when i finally bought the magic golf umbrella that the rain disappeared entirely and the sun didn't stop shining, until 9pm anyway.

One story from Brussels was one night after dinner gab and I decided to wander about the local neighbourhood to find a cafe. Almost across the road from our hostel we found a little unassuming cafe called ´Cafe Affrique´. Now I thought that it was themed but it really was like stepping into a cafe in Africa. I think the looks on our faces said it all as one guy stood up and offered us a table next to his. He was from Cameroon. The music was excellent but our lack of french really stunted our conversations. After what we felt was a polite amount of time we excused ourselves and sort of fled the scene.

Shifting back to the present. Went to the Mauritshuis art gallery this afternoon and saw the ´Dreaming of Italy´exhibition, with audio guide. Fabulous art of which i recognised several from my high school studies. The big draw card for the museum though was Vermeer´s Girl with a Pearl earring and the Rembrandt collection. Well worth the entry fee to see but somewhat exploited tackily in the gift shop. ´Souvenirs´included Girl with a Pearl earring Matches, Girl with a Pearl earring Post it notes, Girl with a Pearl earring document holders as well as the usual magnets and book marks.

Tomorrow is a monday and public holiday as today was Ascension day. So we will most likely move on to Amsterdam where there is a higher liklyhood that something will be open.

To Summerise:

Belgium Chocolate – Check
Belgium Beer – Check
Belgium Mussels with chips – Check.

Can anyone tell me what food Holland is renowned for? Gab and I are at a loss.

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