Thursday, April 1, 2010

Tales from Lovely London and Beautiful Bruges

I am back from London. Sigh. It came and went so quickly. I touched down late Thursday evening and went directly to join my friends in the Kensington area for a glass of wine… followed by a few more… before bedtime.

My friend’s flat is quintessentially British. Flowers and paintings, and lovely little London quirks; like softer water pressure and light switches placed on the floor instead of mounted on the wall.
Up early for a long walk about London: me, my friend, and her little brother. We walked all over. Most of it on purpose, some of our steps a bit misguided. I think that’s the fun of it though, isn’t it? All roads lead to home, after all.
We arrived at our outdoor eating destination, Borough Market, where every of the five senses was stimulated. I could’ve been in Arabian Nights and wouldn’t have known the difference. So many sights, smells and tastes. Exotic meats, intricate sweets, all things cured, smoked, grilled, fried, melted. After our bellies were full and our energy levels up, we forged on to the Tate Modern and then back to the garden flat. For those curious about boots abroad: I learned later that night, that no one in London actually wears wellies, especially out to the pub. I was crushed by this revelation, and er, humbled by the bouncer who begrudgingly allowed my admission.

That evening we met at another friend’s flat for drinks and snacks before perhaps the silliest dinner I’ve ever been invited too. Six of us experienced true Austrian dining and entertaining. For those unsure of what that means, I’m not sure I can offer much clarification. Envision lots of sausage, larger than life beers, and men dressed in Sound of Music garb, serenading the diners. We danced deep into the night, our bellies full of beer. Younger brother did his part to keep us young, and slightly foggy the next morning.

The following days included lots of Americanized activity. We cheered on a friend in his lacrosse game, followed by drinks and player initiation at an outdoor pub. We enjoyed delicious, lengthy dinners with extended groups of expats. Nice people and good conversation; they go a long way, don’t they?
Next, we journeyed to Bruges. Beautiful and enchanting Bruges.
We adored it’s cobblestone streets and horse drawn carriages. Crumbling, musty churches, adorable little dogs, and meandering canals throughout. Tiny chocolate shops and quaint little cafes that could’ve served the Belgian bourgeois for all we know.

Oh yes, and lots of ducks. I was quite taken with the ducks. Are they cuter in Belgium? Yes, yes, I think so.
We climbed all 300+ steps to the top of the Belfast to take in the views of Belgium. We wandered about the Markt, and drank and ate as we pleased. It was heavenly.
Who lives in those ancient little homes along the canal anyway? What is life like growing up in Bruges?

Why is everything just a bit more magical in Europe?

London is vast and sprawling. It smells pretty there; like primroses and fresh rain. I suppose because there is plenty of it. I don’t know if I could meet all that rain each morning with a smile. It was with a beating heart of pride, that I left my friend on Tuesday afternoon. She is soaking up everything London has to offer. For me, and I think for her, it’s the luxury and accessibility of travel that makes living in London so appealing. Hop on a train, and you can be anywhere your heart desires so it seems.

It was with heavy boots that I said goodbye when my friend first relocated to London, but now I understand a bit better. It’s romantic and new and engaging. It’s an adventure abroad that changes every day.


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