I Travel

"Do you know how to say "I travel" in Dutch?"

The desk attendant at the Lybeer Traveler's Hostel in Bruges, Belgium asked me this as Zac and I were checking out, not entirely ready to leave town after several amazing days in the tiny city.

He knew I didn't know Dutch. It seemed like such an odd question at the time, but I was willing to indulge him; the Belgian people had been nothing but amazingly hospitable, and rudely brushing him off just wasn't an option.

We had arrived still dazed from the previous night's activities (see Paris/Brussels post), ready to get some rest in what will surely be the smallest, quietest town on our trip.

Our interest piqued by pictures posted on hostelworld.com, we had booked a night in a bed and breakfast just outside of town called the Castle Tudor. Yes, a castle. At forty bucks a night, we expected the worst out of the place. The pictures looked great online, but at that price, it seemed too good to be true. Our cab there drove us into seeming isolation, pulling onto a long driveway. Our surroundings were obscured by a tall line of trees, and when the line broke, we were a bit shocked at what we saw.

The castle was exactly as pictured. We drove past a pastoral field, engaging in an impromptu staring contest with the sheep and cows that grazed just yards from the driveway. As we approached the building's massive front, we couldn't help but marvel at the immaculately kept garden that looked a bit like a miniature Versailles.

We walked into the building, expecting to find out that we actually owe 400 euros instead of just 40. Instead, we were directed to individual private rooms; we had only paid for one double, but they decided to put us up separately for free.

If this is starting to sound impossibly great, you're half right. Everything about this place was incredibly creepy. We seemed to be the only guests, and the B&B's staff barely spoke to us; it all seemed a bit too much like the start of a cheap horror movie.

After a very Belgian meal of mussels and French fries downtown, Zac and I returned to an empty castle. We took over a huge dining room, sharing a long, white tableclothed buffet table and a nice bottle of South African wine. We went to bed relaxed and only slightly fearful of being murdered in our sleep. We were kings for a night.

The next day we moved in town to the Lybeer hostel. We spent our time in Bruges doing as the Bruggians do, wandering amongst the canals, gazing at the Michelangelo held within one of the city's churches, and drinking dozens of Belgian beers.

In a more touristy moment, we visited the quirky Frites Museum, a self-guided walk through the history of the French fry, narrated by a fry named Fiona and her significant other, Peter Potato. It sounds ridiculous, but I promise you, its far more absurd than you can even imagine.

The culture and quirks of this city really sucked us in, and neither of us wanted to leave. We dragged our bags down the steep three flights of stairs in our hostel and checked out, slightly sad.

Having accepted the fact that we had to leave eventually, we just wanted to get out of there quickly and quietly in our tired state. I wasn't feeling super cooperative when the receptionist asked us that question:

"Do you know how to say "I travel" in Dutch?"

I tiredly replied with a curt "No."

His answer pulled me out of my bad mood, leaving me satisfied and ready to continue my trek across Europe, next stop Amsterdam.

With a half-smile, he said "Reis."



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