Left at half 10ish after a nice chat with Lisa, the owner of the hostel/boat. Getting out of Ghent was easy as there were plenty of signs. The ride was pretty, mostly the rivers and canals. Stopped by a pretty spot by the canal after an hour to have a couple of sandwiches and a wee.
Not long after I met a couple of Americans who came cycling alongside me. I started chatting to them and I found out we were heading to the same hostel in Bruges so I joined them.
They were Alex and Carlos and they were halfway through a two month cycling tour of Europe. We got into Bruges, made a quick stop at an Aldi and then found our hostel about 1300. We had a chat in the hostel for a bit and then went for an explore by myself, arranging to meet the guys later for beers.
I liked Bruges, very pretty but a bit too full of tourists for my liking, I prefer the laid back atmosphere of Ghent. When I’m travelling I always prefer places I can imagining living and all the tourists in Bruges would piss me off. I saw so many almost cause accidents by not looking where they were going and just walking into the road causing bikes and cars to brake or swerve suddenly to avoid them!
Whilst I was wandering I had time to read my book in a lovely, quiet park and I started to think about travelling and the people I meet. Alex and Carlos are both 29 and basically doing what I did last year. It’s amazing the amount people around 30 or coming up to it who give up their jobs to travel. People always say to me it’s a pretty brave thing to do, to give up work and just go, which is true to an extent but I always think of myself as brave.
Another reason I think some people do it, for myself anyway, is a certain level of desperation and unhappiness. I don’t know if travelling will ultimately make me happy but at least it’s an educational and fulfilling distraction.
Anyway that night I had fun at the hostel, chatting away to Alex and Carlos, the other guests and also some very friendly locals, especially Paul and Olivier. Paul was especially funny, teaching us Flemish drinking expressions and sharing his love of British comedy. Olivier was also a fan of Bottom and both were shocked and upset when I told them that Rik Mayall had died back in June…
With Olivier I had a very varied conversation, topics jumping from politics, opera and British comedy in general. It was very interesting but I had to retire about 11ish as I got very drunk. The beer in Belgium is outstanding but exceedingly strong…