Thursday, December 6, 2007

Gent, Belgium - Nele

Home sweet European home! After Berlin, I took an overnight 13 hour bus ride to Brussels and then a 1 hour train ride to Gent. (I think I set beside a girl who worshipped the devil but I can’t be certain.) Anyway, I stayed with my good friend, Nele. She’s all grown up now: married, running a successful clothing store and raising her beautiful daughter, Charlotte.

On a side, it was very interesting to see the language differences for children. I was very used to hearing different languages but to hear a mother tell her child, “Bravo”, “Pardon”, even Peek-a-boo is not Peek-a-boo. And animals sounds are different as well. I think they say a cow says “Boo”, not “Moo.” Just things you wouldn’t think about it.

Speaking of not thinking... Nele lives in Aalst, just outside of Gent. One morning, while she was at work, I borrowed their bike and rode into Gent to see the old stomping grounds. Well, I bundled up with 3 layers of shirts but I didn’t even think about my socks. I threw on a thin pair of running socks, slipped on my practically all mesh running shoes and set out on my 1 ½ hour bike ride in sub 30 degree weather. The first 20 minutes were fine, no problem. But after 30 minutes of riding through the brisk wind, my feet felt like they were going to fall off. Imagine the scene on Dumb & Dumber when they are riding to Vail on their motor scooter. When I got to Gent, I ran into the first modestly priced restaurant and ordered something just to warm my feet. (And, of course, I followed it up with a nice Belgian beer. I deserved it.)

I had a great time and I owe Nele & her husband, Dirk, many thanks for putting up with me for a couple of days.

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