It's hard not to hit them

2008 August 5

Giverny, France to Brugge, België (Bruges, Belgium)

dscn0833It is said that one should “stop and smell the roses”.  Well, I did just that today.  After saying goodbye to Nanou and Jean-Luc, I drove to Giverny, which was only four kilometers from Vernon.  This tiny village was Claude Monet‘s home for many years until the mid 1920s.  His home is open for tours as is his gardens that were the subject of many of his paintings.

dscn0844As I walked though the gardens up one row and down the other, the variety of flowers was astounding.  I don’t know flowers very well but I think I’ve seen many different types.  I only recognized about half of what I saw today.  I just kept snapping pictures of everything I didn’t recognize.  The smell was lovely, it was so soothing.

dscn0913Wandering around, I came upon the Japanese gardens.  He was apparently a big fan of Japanese art as well; several rooms in his house have paintings and drawings by Japanese artists.  Next was the water garden which led to the famous water lily pond.  Spectacular.  The setting, the design, the colors… stunning.  From various points around the pond, you can see what he saw and understand why he liked it so much.  I got to see it early in the morning with not so many people and the early morning light.  It’s all about the light you see.

I guess it’s all about balance too.  After such a pretty morning, the drive to België was unspectacular.  Northern France is flat, has lot’s of industry and it was an overcast day for the most part.  I drove via Beauvais, Amiens, Calais and Dunkerque.  Caught a couple glimpses of the English Channel.  I almost missed the crossing into België.  No customs stop, it’s just like driving from state to state in the US.  I just happened to notice a small sign that said België.

I arrived at Brugge, a gorgeous town.  I have never seen so many people on bikes, more bikes than cars.  It’s hard not to hit them, I really had to pay attention despite the temptation.  Trying to find the hostel proved a daunting task.  I had a map, but it wasn’t of the whole town and I had a tough time getting my bearings.  It was too cloudy to tell where the sun was so I couldn’t even tell north from south.  Must buy compass.  After an hour, I stumbled upon an area that was on my map and I knew I was close.  Then, there it was… and I drove right by it.  I missed the turn into the driveway and there wasn’t a place to stop so I tried to turn around.  I turned right at the next intersection; bad decision.  I got stuck in one of those mazes of streets lined with connected homes and none of the streets were straight so in about 30 seconds, I completely lost my bearings.  I drove and drove and drove for another 30 minutes, I figured I was on the other side of town, I couldn’t get out of that damn maze.  Finally, I gave up hope of getting back to the right area, I just wanted out of the maze, so I picked a car and followed it.

He indeed led me out and right to the street I wanted.  What a surprise.  Went south on that street, pulled a U-turn and I was there, the Bruges – Europa Hostel, finally.  Got checked in and met my roomies Miomi and Soku, both from Japan but not traveling together.  This facility is modern, not my style really but it’s a nice facility.  I’m sitting in the lounge (with a bar) writing this entry.  And believe it or not, I’m having a beer.
Tomorrow is a day in Brugge and the next day I drive to Bruxelles for the day then drive to Malmedy where I’ll spend the night.

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