Nate's Travels

An attempt to document the world-travels of Nate B. from China to Western Europe and beyond!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Fries, Beer, waffles and CHOCOLATE!!!!

The Canal in Bruge
The Canal in Bruge,
originally uploaded by Nate Brunk.
So this weekend we headed to Bruges, Belgium... What an amazing little town! Full of tourism (and tourists acting like tourists), the town had plenty to do and to see. We arrived by train on Friday night (only about a 3 hour ride from Luxembourg City) and started to hike around to try to find our hostel. We ended up staying in a place called Snuffel Backpacker hostel... it's an awesome place with tons of people there. The common room was a bar... a bit smoky, but a neat place to socialize. Taylor and I ended up talking to people from France and Holland (in French, incidentally... well, slightly drunken French...). They were studying to be train conductors, and had the weekend off for holiday.
Anyway--that night, we took a night walk of Bruges, an incredibly beautiful city when the weather is nice and the lights are on... Awesome! We stopped before we went back to get some fries (did you know they were invented here?!) with triplicate... Mm. We think its a combo of mayonnaise, mustard, and ketchup, but we're not REALLY sure.
The next morning, we got up at 7:45, got showered and dressed and went to breakfast at a fast-foodish joint. It was actually more like a Belgian bakery, but had premade liege style waffles for us... mmmm. I had mine with strawberry sauce. It might be the best sweet pastry I've ever tasted. After that, we climbed the big bell tower you can see in the pictures. 366 steps later, we were at the top. It had started raining, the wind was blowing.. ahh! It was pretty nasty up there, but we got some decent pictures. We next headed down and went to the Chapel of the Sacred blood. This place holds a relic that supposedly contains Christ's blood. Needless to say, it was a place of impressive beauty, but we didn't feel the need to stick around for the Veneration. We paid our respects and left after taking some pictures.
Next, we headed to another Cathedral that holds Michaelangelo's "Madonna and Child." It was incredibly beautiful, true to life, and housed in a magnificent building. Pictures are on my FLICKR page.
After that we got a littttttttllleee hungry... where did we go? FRIES!!!! We had fries and hot dogs (on baguettes?) from the cart again.. mmmm. After our lunch, we headed to a brewery (De Halve Maan... the half moon) to get a tour. The tour was pretty cheap and a lot of fun! We learned that Brugge Zot is the only Brug-ish beer still brewed in Bruges today, some history about beer, and more history about Belgian beer (did you know they make some of it with Coriander? It adds an amazing taste!). The tour concluded with a full glass of their beer... much better from the tap than the bottle... and it was good!
After that, the girls were tired of museum hopping/sight seeing and felt the need to shop. They headed off and Taylor and I went to a Flemmish Art Museum... I didn't know such beautiful art came from Belgium.. it was absolutely incredible! After that, we met back up with the girls, and went to the Dumon Chocolatier (Suggested by Rick Steves)... I think he picked the best one! Their chocolate was sooooo creamy and sooooo rich! I only had a few little pieces, but it was great!
Next, we went to "The Chocolate Story" a museum of Chocolate history... interesting, but not worth the money... too touristy. The highlight was the demonstration for making filled chocolates at the end with free samples! That night we grabbed dinner at a tapas bar, after Taylor and I used our 9 euro beer card to try 5 beers at our hostel... yea, enough said. haha! We went out to a local night club that night, but no one was dancing, so we left early...
We slept in the next morning, had some gooooood breakfast at a really nice restaurant (for only about $9), and then headed back to Lux city. We got back here in differdange about 5pm... so not too late! Needless to say, we were pooped, but we had a great time overall!
Hope everyone's doing well, having a good time here but missing you all!

xnatex

Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Valley in Lux City

The Valley in Lux City
The Valley in Lux City,
originally uploaded by Nate Brunk.
Hey ya'll, here's the first of the pictures! I'm constantly working on uploading them, and doubt i'll have the chance to upload more tonight... then we're heading to Bruges, Belgium tomorrow... I'll get to it though, I promise!

The rest of the photos are at:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/nathanbrunk/

xnatex

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Wine and Dine (at Quick Burger?)

Bonjour!

Sooooo, we've been extremely busy, and I haven't much time to check e-mail, etc, but when I can, I am trying! Linda... I'll email you the thing asap, I dont have the zipcode here on me right now...

Anyway, we've done some more cool things on our orientation trips... we've had the opportunity to go to the Moselle region of Luxembourg (on the border between France, literally separated by the Moselle river. The moselle region is known for it's amazing wine production (mostly white wines... apparently the soil isn't sandy enough for red grapes). We first visited La Musee du Vin to see exactly how wine was made historically by smaller winemakers. We tasted a wine at the finish of the tour, it was pretty tasteless for wine, but meh.. whatevs. Next we headed to the Domaine Vinsmoselle winery. It's a coop winery for the growers around, they jointly purchased the equipment to create some of Luxembourg's best wine and champaigne equivalent (did you know it cannot be called Champaigne if it's not from Champaigne, France? In Lux, it's called Cremant). We tried three different types of white wine and le Cremant... they were all excellent (and suprisingly cheap... so we got a bottle for our host mom).

That night we hopped the train to Lux City and tried to find a restaurant that Taylor read about in his travel book. After less time searching for it than the bar the previous night, we did find that it was pretty ritzy for our group (plus we had 12 people!) Sooo, we resorted to Quick Burger... the european equivalent to McDonalds. Not the best food ever, but we feel we gained cultural insight (yeah, right...) :P

Yesterday we had an amazing day of visits. We first went to Merche, Luxembourg to visit a high school (not in session), where the headmaster gave us a great lecture about Medieval Europe/Luxembourg. After that, the school served us lunch and we had another lecture by a historian about the Battle of the Buldge... it's incredible to hear about how appreciative Luxembourgers are about the Americans that helped in WWII... they understand the meaning of liberation, truly, and are appreciative of our efforts elsewhere in the world since they have firsthand experience.

After Merche, we went to Clervaux to see the photo exhibit "Family of Man." Now--I appreciate art as much as the next guy, but don't find myself generally interested in it a lot. This exhibit was incredible, however. It was pictures of all facets of humanity, portrayed in such powerful ways... it was really neat. After that, we went to the Abbey at Clervaux to go to a vespers service.. it was incredible to say the very very least. Truly awe inspiring.

Ah! I must go! See ya later!
xnatex

Friday, January 12, 2007

Je Suis en Europe!

Ah! Finally, Le Internet!

Moyen!

Well, we arrived safely (much more so than on Air China Flights) on wednesday morning in Brussels, Belgium. After getting all of our things, we headed for the bus where MUDEC staff greeted us. After a three-hour long bus ride, we finally made it to Differdange (lovingly known here as "The Diff"). We hooked up with our host family's son, Johnny (not to be confused with their dog Johnny), who packed our luggage in a tiny van and took it ahead of us to our house. We walked to the house, literally a 2 minute walk from the chateau (yay for rolling out of bed!)! We checked out our rooms--they're really nice! We each have our own room on the 3rd (2nd here) story of Claire's (host mom's) house, then share a newly renovated bathroom--it's really nice!

We came back to MUDEC on Thursday to begin our orientation: first a lecture from Dr. Stiller (the dean), then introductory sessions about living with a host family, and student activities here at MUDEC. After that, we headed to Bastonge, Belgium (the site of the Battle of the Buldge) to check out the memorial and the battlegrounds. The guide told us the weather was much like it was over the course of the fight there--windy, cold, and wet. I can't imagine fighting in that terrible environment... and to think that it was the site of so many deaths/casualties....

Last night we headed to a few bars in differdange (gotta have some local flavor :P), then went to Luxembourg city to find a random bar that Brad THOUGHT he knew about... no dice. We probably hiked 4 miles and couldn't find anything except a lot of people who gave us wrong directions in German. Sooooo, we hit up a little pub on our way back to le gare (train station). I had my favorite Belgian beer (Chimay... mmmm). Though it's not ever on draught, it's a hell of a lot cheaper here than in the states! (3.50 Euro versus 8 dollars). Then we caught the train back to Diff and headed home...

Today, we're headed to Moselle, to a wine museum, winery, etc. I like the european attitude toward alcohol already, it seems like even though it's available, very few people come to bars to get drunk... way different than the United States...

Alright, I have to head to orientation stuff right now.. catch ya'll later!

Au Revoir,
Nate!

Monday, January 08, 2007

The Countdown to Europe!

Ahhhhh... travel time is here again.. In less than 12 hours, I'll have started my journey towards Differdange, Luxembourg, my new home for the next four months! I'm super excited, and way more at ease about traveling a long distance after having traveled to China. I've been watching Rick Steve's DVD's, reading information, and basically just getting mentally prepped. I say mentally since I just finished the majority of my packing about an hour ago :P

I'm really stoked that so many people have access to this site; It'll be sweet to share my experiences... these are your souvineers :P Stick around, come back every week or so and I'll do my best to update regularly!

I would like to note that I'm not going to have internet access at the chateau in Differdange for a few days, so if ya'll don't hear from me, assume the best. Au revoir mes amis... ALLONS-Y A EUROPE!

xnatex