Saturday, July 4, 2009

Faire la autostop! Brussels to Bruges

Well, here I am in Europe and writing retrospectively, am loving the adrenalin-driven surges that hitchiking, couchsurfing and proclamations of literary intent are having upon me. My aim is to voyage accross Europe for the month of July and then settle to reside in Paris for all of August in the hope being that my writing in my paper journal, on Microsoft Word and in this blog might generate a body of words that could one day lead to something. That something being a pencilled-in novel by the name of "Bohemian Bootcamp", based on my plan to live in Paris with my friend Kieran and persue the life of the Writer in the Orwellian and Hemingwayian sense. But here I will write a travelogue, and keep it brief, light-hearted and interesting (though this first effort is really none of these, so stay tuned for later and better ones when I am not justalittlebittipsy).

I arrive by plane at 2.30pm on the 30th of July with a large piece of hand luggage and a sizeable promise of financial gurantees from my parental benefactors for my very own Grand Tour! My first hitchike is from the Charlerois airport at Brussels to the town centre, and set in motion a series of predictiably batty conversations all with the hilarious premise that my french was rubbish and that I was happy, indeed more than happy, to play the clown and be laughed at. "You want to come and live with us!"said Ludivine. "Ah non"I hastily correct, delighted at the error and the resultant note of mild terror it arouses "Non, non et non. Parlez-vous anglais?"
Terrific, already nearly a bed for the night. Once in Brussels and at an Internet Cafe, I am pleasantly surprised by the communicability of the Internet, already "Friends"with my escorts on the eternally convivial Facebook!

The night came down upon me kindly, resting as I was with a large can of Platinum 12% 'beer' and teased into submission by the cultural Smurgasboard of the Ommegang festival in the wondrous Renaissance spledour of la Grand Place. Basically, lots of happy Beligans prancing around a cobbled square to a perky medieval soundtrack and theatrical lighting, an annual commemoration of a visit by Charlemagne or Charlesomeonelse.

Wednesday: after seeing a little bronze cherub gleefully urinating into an elaborately decorated marble pond, I took advantage of the lack of supervision on the metro to get out of the city to the metro without expenditure. Taking my own little widdle at a local bar in the immigarnt's quarter, one woman at the bar seemingly a professional gurner of expressive facial arrangments, dressed for evening at noon and with a hint of edith piath about her, I made my way the my hitching point, direction Bruges. After a mere ten minutes I punched the air as an airconditioned Volvo stopped traffic for me to alight my sweat bothered body onto Jean's very nice front passanged seat, my bag a 3rd front sitting passanger.

Great, I said, Bonjour, I am glad you read my sign okay!

"I did, imparted Jean, and that is why I stopped"

"PLEASED to meet you!" I regail, "Friend you are and happy to say so!". The joy of travelling, i thought, wise as a king to be avoiding that foppish 'tourist track of the common man. Indeed I am a natural.

Ï stopped," he rejoined,"because this road goes in the wrong direction"

Ah. Ok.

Here began another portentous trend in my adventures, the art of holding up a sign to hitch somehwere to traffic that are all going in the wrong direction. So Jean dropped me in the right place, and set down there, Jimmy and Kim dutifully plucked me out of the Euro Road ether a petit 5 minutes later and off we went to Bruges.

Kim was lovely, and Jimmy, despite being a self-proclaimed racist, was also terrific and we had a jolly chat about the Canon of rock music, Kim's forthcoming baby (a funny chat about its lack of Gender, that only happening at the age of 4 months, its angelhood turning into an envitable fall from grace, so they hoped, that the scanner would probe and they could decorate the little one's living quarters in advance of its wordly debut) and the benefits of the quiet life in Bruges versus the busy Waffle munching hubbub of the capital.

Alighting in Bruges, I bade my farewell to my travel buddies and strode into the main square with lordly gait and a buoyant sense of pride at my full lack of preparation and new found skill at comandeering people's vehicles for money-neutral transit and gleeful conversational exchange and intrusion into their private lives. The au citron and a slightly put back waiter (Non, rien a manger) and a fine view of the horses and traps, the tanned tall girls atop high bicycles with Holly Go Lightly sunglasses peddling by and the dozy pigeoned commotions of the twilight square, a pleasant evening began to unfold in a manner i was beginning to recognise - somehwat meandering, speonatenous and fun. Bruges, a lovely city, and tonight she was mine.

Stay tuned for my next installment....

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