Day 13 Or so Bruges, Belgium

Bubba started from Sacramento California 13 days ago.  He vowed to go east as far as he could.  He is now going west in order to go east again.  It made sense at the time.

I parked the rental car in the square next to the truck.  It won’t stand out.  Nobody will figure out I’m an American.  Just a couple of Belgian cars, right?

I wish this was the rental!

We were welcomed by this stylish, sinister gent and his two ladies.  The guy on the far right seems to have his doubts about this group.

Monsieur Sinister and his ladies seem to be watching me.  Maybe not.  I’m sure they are just local citizens out for a stroll.

Bruges is another city where the old buts up against the really old.

  The art and architecture blend into a space where you walk around with your head back and your mouth open.

I feel like someone unusual is watching me.   Wait, no, nobody unusual here.

I found this guy and shook his hand.  He looked like a good guide I asked if he would be my friend and he said it looked like the beginnings of a beautiful friendship.

He said his name was Rick Blaine and he had a little café in Casablanca.  He showed me some of the old and new and new old buildings.  Plenty of light, plenty of windows.

Whoa! Sometimes you shouldn’t look in the windows.  Are we back in Amsterdam??

Bruges has its own set of canals that give you a good view of some it the city’s finest buildings.

I still have that feeling of being followed.   Are peacocks waterfowl?

I mentioned the movie “Monuments Men” in the last post.  Bruges too has a work of art that was recovered by those WWII heroes.  The Madonna of Bruges by Michelangelo.

No joking to do here.  This is a work of art that truly leaves you standing still in front of it with no words to utter.   Its mere presence compels you to walk quietly and with reverence.

Straying into too much culture again.  I finally found a museum I like, The Bruges Beer Museum.  And I have a token!!

Now this is the stuff.  The Beer Museum gives you an iPad to guide you through and at the end you exchange it for three drink tokens or six if your companion doesn’t drink.

Properly beered up with for real Belgian Ale, it is time to put my earlier paranoia away about strangely garbed people following me away and get back to the hotel.

I sense a move to the east would be in order.

 

 

Day 11, 12 Belgium

My first for real Belgian waffle!!!

 In Amsterdam, I hopped on a train and headed to Brussels, Belgium.   Now I know I said I would always head east but I have to move a little bit west to go east.  The road takes you where the road wants you to go.

The train station in Brussels in in the basement of a building that houses the airport and the rental car places.  I could have hopped another train into the city center or points west but I talked Rick and Spider into getting a car instead.

The first stop in our quest to go west in order to go east was Bruges.  We parked the car and quickly forgot where we put it but that would be a problem for later.   Bruges became a place-to-come-back-to right from the start.   Knowing that our beds for the night still lay west of us, we were unable to fully explore this city.

In the few hours we had to spare, we saw a rich array of medieval buildings.

The churches have been around for a couple of years or centuries and have picked up a few monument and statues.

Sometimes I can’t tell if they belong together.  Is that supposed to look like that?

  A can’t miss is the Ghent Altarpiece.  Twelve fifteenth century panels painted by the brothers van Eyck.  It has a rich history of its own.  Looted by Nazis in WWII, the panels were found in a salt mine by the famous Monuments Men and were featured in the movie of the same name.  Sorry, no photos.   Bubba was properly humbled by the masterpieces.

 We found this place.   Maybe we could get a bite to eat here.

You can pick up a ham sandwich here, if you can reach the ham.   Even the butcher shop is an olde worlde building.

The medieval architecture here is amazing.  If it wasn’t for the banana on the bike, you wouldn’t know what century you were in.

This city is on the come back to list.   But now I must move on…  If we can find the car.

Yeah, well, we did do a little searching before we found it.  The problem occurs when you come to a place like this, you exit the car park, looking at all the buildings and not where you happen to be at that time.  

Day 9, 10 Amsterdam

Here we go, back in a plane and heading east once again.  I got on the plane, I got off the plane and I am now at my hotel.  The streets here are not paved with gold, they are paved with water.  I’m in Amsterdam.

 

Another beautiful city with a look of its own.  For most people, Amsterdam is a bike riding town.  For a Bubba sized bike, it would take some time to get around.  Amsterdam is also a great walking town. Moving too fast would mean missing the incredible views of all the unique Dutch architecture.

The people here are extremely tolerant and laid back.  To show wealth is seen as a sin by some while sins here come with a different definition.  Some of the houses here have funny red lights out in front.  I’m not sure what that means.

It is also a city of culture. The Rijksmuseum can be a several day distraction.  Many of “those paintings you only see in books” are located here.

   The Night Watch by Rembrandt is here.

 

And this painting by Vermeer.

That is one cute Amsterdamian girl!

Rick liked the library.

WOW! I found the girl pouring the milk.  How do you say, “Wanna party like a Dutch girl?”

Or how do you say, “Just kidding Millie my dear.”

After the museum, we went to a world famous sporting event.  “The World Cup!”  Well, sort of.

Amsterdam is one of those places where it is hard to take a bad picture.  It is a supermodel of European cities; it always photographs well.

As much as I like Amsterdam, I’m on a semi strict time schedule.  I must head east once more.

I’m tired of planes so the next step will be by train to…

Day 7, 8 More Time In Iceland

            Yesterday was spent in Reykjavik so, today, I’ll head out into the countryside.  There is a whole lot of beautiful nothing out here punctuated by occasional glaciers and geysers.

     This is a new land.  The result of volcanic activity in relatively recent times means there is very thin soil, not a lot of trees but lots of rocks.  It is said that if you spend the night in the lava flows, the trolls will come out to get you.  I saw them in Reykjavik and I think Rick has been converted.   

Glaciers feed rivers that create some waterfalls of gigantic proportions.  This one is Gullfoss, It is actually two waterfalls one on top of the other and set at about 90 degrees. 

A little too tall, too loud, and too deep for me.  This is more my size but is still impressive.

     Because this place is so new, there is a lot of volcanic activity around.  You can take a walk and notice that the ground seems to be smoking.

There is a local saying, “If this grounds a smokin’ don’t go a pokin’” meaning if you poke at the ground, you may get a surprise.

Uh, no Bubba.  That’s a geyser.  That’s what their job is.  There is no corny smokin’/pokin’ saying.

With all this hot water around, it gets used to provide power for the country.  Over a quarter of the electricity and almost 90% of the heating and hot water, comes out of the ground.

Along with that, they have some great hot spring bathing areas.  This is the Blue Lagoon, a product of the power plant in the background.

I got my armband and joined in.

Hey Look!  It’s Millie!  I can lounge hot spring side with her.

I could sit here all night. 

            Iceland has been a real treat.  It is another Bubba sized country but it is time again to head east.  Where next?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reykjavik, Iceland, Day 6, 7

Bubba is on day six of his trip to go east, young man.  His destination is east…just east.  He has just arrived in Reykjavik, Iceland from Toronto Canada.

I caught a bus from the airport and found a room in this house.  It was built in the early 1900’s and was once an embassy.

                                                                        It has a nice view of some local artwork on the wall across the street. 

                                         That could explain why this is a former embassy.  The Ambassador reportedly said he felt he was being watched.

                                           On top of the hill, I saw what looked like a huge rocket, set to go to Mars and beyond.  As I got closer, I saw …

            This must be the most impressive bit of modern church architecture on the planet.  In a place that has as little as four hours of daylight in the winter, they have built a bright, airy interior.  Not the dark and gloomy gothic structures I am used to seeing.

Even the pipe organ is grand, majestic, and yes, Viking like.

            Whoa!  Too much inspiration and culture.  I think I’ll take a walk and hang out with these local folks.  They look to be more my type, especially the troll on the left.

            I need someone to show me around.  I’ll ask this guy.  He pointed down the street to another guy.

This man looks like an Icelander.  He is set for weather, is willing to show me around and the price of his tour is just up my alley.

            Travel tip:  Do this!  It was a great walk with lots to learn.

                                                                                            He showed me some historic buildings.

            Some more wall art.

And the church at the end of the rainbow.

            We also saw the Reykjavik commute of blockhead businessmen.

            This statue may refer to the Icelandic financial crisis of 2008.  Deregulation of banks and other businesses entities caused a deep financial collapse.  In true Icelandic form the people staged the “Pots and Pans Revolution where they gathered outside Parliament and banged pots and pans to express their displeasure.  The leaders of the government resigned and were replaced. 

 

Reykjavik is a great city but I’d like to see some of the rest of the country.  I think I’ll venture out tomorrow and maybe even take a cruise in a local boat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Still Eastbound, Day four, Day Five, A Wedding!!

            Niagara Falls.  The place of honeymoons and where Marylyn Monroe plotted murder in the film, Niagara.  Sinister wedding events abound.

            Heading a bit east from the falls I came to little town of Niagara on the Lake.  Just on the outskirts, there is a tiny, tiny church.

                                                                         It is not only small, it is the world’s smallest. 

                                    This chapel is Guinness book tiny.  This place is so small, they had to put the name on a sign out front.  It has been known to turn away basketball players due to height restrictions.  

 

                                              What can be done in a church that small?  I peeked inside and sure enough, there was a wedding going on.

            Yeah, that happened…again. 

That guy must have left his tux at home.

The minister and his wife posed for wedding photos.  They also doubled as best man, maid of honor, and wedding guests.  That about filled the place to capacity.  It is a tiny place when you have to go single file down the aisle.

            After the wedding what comes next?  The reception!  Or at least a trip to the pub for fish and chips and a pint of stout.

This was the Angel Inn on Niagara on the Lake. It was established in 1789 but this is the place after a remodeling in 1812.  The server told a tale of an uneasy guest.  In 1813, a Canadian militia officer, Captain Colin Swayze, missed out on the British retreat to hang with his new found lady friend.  He hid in a barrel in the cellar from the invading U.S. forces.  They entered the pub and probed the barrel with bayonets and pinned him to the spot forevermore.  He is said to roam the building but is harmless as long as the Union Jack flies over the building.

            The server gave me another pint to ease my fears.

Or not.  Must be time to head east again.  Where to now?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bubba Around–Day 3

            Heading east from Toronto, I came across, what I thought was a broken water pipe or maybe a flooded gutter.  Whatever it was, coming from the California drought, I knew someone was in big trouble.

                                              I was wrong!  This is Niagara Falls.  I took a closer look and saw a boat that would take me even closer.

            The problem was that it was on the other side of the water…in another country…Back in the USA.  I saw a bridge, maybe I can sneak in.

I figured if I crawled on the curvy bit, I could sneak over, get my ride, and sneak back before anyone knew.

            Note:  Bubba don’t play those games!  We don’t mess with Immigration or Customs from any country we visit.  The idea of a jail is not my idea of a good time.  The idea of a foreign jail is enough to melt the plastic off a little person.

I made it to the other side and climbed to the top of this tower to get a better view.

                                                The view was great but it looks a little wet and misty down there.  I can’t really see; I’ll have to get closer.

                                                              I saw a lot of people dressed in blue raincoats.  May I can score one from this nice lady.

                                                                            It’s a little big around the shoulders but there is my boat so I must hustle.

                                                                     The boat took me to the falls but this part looks a little rocky.

                                                                Hey look, there’s another place that looks a little more peaceful over there.

                                                                       Annnnd, maybe just a shade too rough.  I thought I’d give skiing a shot.

                                                              TOO ROUGH! TOO ROUGH!  TOO FOAMY!  GET ME BACK TO LAND!

                                                                                            Canada is that a way.  I’m heading back now.

                                                                                                   Back to the normalcy of Canada.

                                                                                        

Maybe heading east would be a better bet.

East to Day 4