Mercy. Time is fuh-lying by over here. The moving company is coming today to asses our needs. Suze will arrive on Friday and we shall proceed to tear this town apart one last time. Suze will leave on Sunday and I shall commence to being sad. Then, well...I suppose I'll fly out sometime the following week and Jason will follow a few days later. Woah. Shit just got real. So I figure I'd better get to stepping on the whole blogging thing...
Kortrijk! I can spell it! But I can't pronounce it! Kortrijk is a very quaint little town in West Flanders. So quaint, in fact, that we had some trouble finding a place to eat Friday evening when we arrived. (Never fear. We finally found an Italian restaurant and ate us some lobster linguini. Lobster! Fuck yeah!)
The ornate city hall...
The medieval Broel Towers mark the original city walls.
The tower of St. Martin's church overlooking the beguinage park...
Just in case I haven't mentioned it before, beguinages were communities for women who dedicated their lives to God but weren't actually nuns. It's a pretty interesting concept I think.
Most Flemish towns had one and all but one are now used as regular housing, artist studios, museums or something like that. This one even contains a small bed and breakfast. The one in Brugge is actually a proper convent now.
And now, we continue on our very important, historically and culturally significant walking tour with a stop at...huh...okay...forget the very important, historically and culturally significant walking tour. Here's me on a toddler-sized playground motorcycle.
For our next trick, we decided to drive out to Ieper. (Pronounced like jeepers without the j or the s.) Ieper and the surrounding fields were basically the hotbed of World War I. This is Menin Gate, a memorial. Every night at 8:00, traffic is stopped and members of the local firebrigade sound Last Post under the arch.
Below is Ieper's massive town hall which holds a very sobering World War I museum. The museum had a lot of personal artifacts like cards and letters and trinkets sent from the soldiers to their friends and family and I found that part to be the most telling.
One of the more interesting bits was about how they celebrated Christmases. They essentially called ceasefire and all the troops came together to share food and exchange gifts from their respective countries. There was one story about the Germans setting up a Christmas tree and inviting the Brits and Americans to sing carols with them. Some were military button collectors and would snip them off their uniforms and trade. Then, a few days later there you were again, trying to kill one another.
I just find it amazing how they were able to mentally separate the person from the war like that. I mean, I can hardly contain the urge to punch anyone in a Buffalo Sabres jersey.
We mapped out a pretty awesome walking tour of the city but first, sustenance was in order. First, of the liquid kind.
And second, of the crepe/ice cream/chocolate sauce/powdered sugar kind.
(Pssst. Bet you didn't notice but you just got MONTAGED!)
I can't let this one go by without commentary. Where the hell do I go to get one of these little cats to sit on my window sill? I have to know! He's wearing boots and gloves and a jaunty hat! WANT.
At the end of the tour, there was the Ramparts Cemetery for WWI soldiers. It was small but really beautiful and peaceful and sat right on the water.
The walk along the ramparts by the water was really nice in the late afternoon sun. Mainly I just posted this photo because it's the only one of me from the whole trip where I'm not stuffing my face with food or riding a toddler-sized motorcycle. See? I iz totalee normul gurl capeuhbul of totalee normul aktivitees such az lakesyde walkz.
But I have to admit that my favorite thing about Ieper was the free map they gave us at the tourist info center. Why? Because inexplicably and oh-so-subtly, nestled in the bottom right hand corner beside some lovely pictures of the city and surrounding area, was a professional photo of a rather regal-looking cat holding a tiny carnival mask with his tiny paw. This is, by far, the gold standard in WTFery.
The Flemish countryside is dotted with old windmills so on our way back to Kortrijk, we finally stopped to get some photos of one.
Sunday, we headed off to Lille. It was meant as sort of a "let's pop into Lille on the way home since it's only about half an hour away from Kortrijk" but turns out, Lille is fantastic! One of Europe's most underrated cities I think. A beautiful Grand Place, fantastic cafes, stunning architecture, outdoor markets aplenty....
But let's get back to the stunning architecture for a moment. Lille really does have some of the most colorful and ornate buildings I've seen anywhere. I feel another montage coming on...
That montage made me kind of hungry. Hungry for carbs. Holy crap. Is that a bakery window filled to the brim with freshly baked bread? Yes. Yes it is.
Well, that about sums up Lille. Beautiful buildings and the best baguette I ever laid teeth on.
We were ready to head back home and had no intention of stopping anywhere else but we happened upon Tournai. It was early, we had nothing else to do, so why not? And now, because I am ever so tired of writing this post (and because I should probably get out of my pajamas, take a shower and put on real grown up type clothes before the people from the moving company get here), here is your Tournai montage. Go ahead. Get crazy. Crank up your favorite montage song and take a gander at these.