Ohio University – Communications
Chocolate. Beer. French cuisine. Could this be paradise? Close! After my first week of classes I traveled with AIU to Brugge, Belgium, or what I now refer to as the City of Overindulgence. This overnight trip surprised me with its beauty, history, and treats.
The city itself is beautiful. The medieval architecture overlooks cobblestone roads that cater to horse drawn carriages frequently running up and down the streets. The first thing my friend Christina and I did when we arrived in Brugge was find something to eat before our walking tour. Putting on our sunglasses to accessorize the perfect day, we walked to the nearest café. Ordering consisted of pointing to a sandwich that looked edible through the glass window because the chalkboard menu was written in French and the woman working spoke little English. You can't go wrong with a baguette, ham, cheese, and mayonnaise, so I handed the lady my crisp new Euros and we headed back to the Ibis hotel. Although this walk was only one block away, we passed two chocolate shops, just a small illustration of how much Belgium loves chocolate.
After the walking tour, which showed us the statue of the Madonna and Child, Christina, our friend Erin, and I strayed off to explore the city on our own. Each of us bought a box of chocolate, vowing to come back the next day and get some for people at home. I found myself more reserved when I went into stores because I was unsure of how they felt of Americans that had no French speaking background. I thought that not talking would conceal my nationality, but surprisingly we walked into a store and the man behind the counter greeted us with a big "Hello!" I guess that language isn't the only indication of nationality.
The three of us met our friend Alex for dinner at a restaurant right on the square. This was our first experience with French service, and soon realized that it is much more laid back and timely than in America. I had an amazing dinner with some of Belgium's own raspberry beer. Our tour leader, Tony, had told us that Belgium has over 300 beers, so I decided to try one. Only 299 to go!
The next day I joined a group of people from AIU and climbed the tower of the Belfry where we had a fantastic view of the entire city. Afterwards I ate a Belgium waffle for lunch, which was way overpriced, but completely worth it. Five of us decided after that to go on a canal tour of the city. Another gorgeous day provided lots of pristine photo opportunities.
Heading back to London, I was relieved to be back where most of the population spoke English, but I was also glad to have experienced a culture that did not speak English as a first language. It made me appreciate and admire other cultures that study various languages throughout their lives. I had never heard of Brugge, Belgium before traveling there with the school, but I would definitely recommend anyone to experience all that it has to offer.
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