Monday, May 15, 2000

Sunday In Brugge

I got to the Brugge train station at around 10:30 yesterday morning. I dragged my suitcase around the cobblestone streets of the town and arrived at my hotel about an hour later. Memo to the authors of Cadogan Bruges: the statement "The maps in this book will provide all the detail you need for this small and compact city" might be true if you labeled the side streets. Thank goodness for my compass, but will this push me over to buying a GPS receiver?

When I arrived at my hotel, my room wasn't going to be ready for another 45 minutes, but they provided me with a place to store my luggage and a map with the side-streets labeled. I used the latter to stroll down to the Markt and have lunch. I chose a restaurant that the Cadogan people derisively refer to as one of "the kinds of restaurants that offer menus in four languages." No matter. I was sitting in an outdoor cafe on a glorious sunny day. I had a view of the Markt square, I was reading a book and enjoying Stella Artois beer, mussels and Staffe Hendrik beer. If I had to die, I thought, forget Las Vegas; I wanted to go like this.

Ater a couple of hours, I wandered back to my hotel. My room was ready, thankfully. And it was gloriously luxurious -- huge bathroom, high ceilings and beautiful furnishings. I took an incredibly relaxing bath. Despite my understanding that it's better for avoiding jetlag to stay up until the next night, I couldn't resist crawling into bed and falling peacefully to sleep.

I woke up a few hours later and thought, "If I have to die, please let it be now." I had one of the worst hangovers I can remember having. Only the time I made the mistake of drinking a "Skullsplitter" right before going to be really compares. I noticed that registration still had a couple of hours to go, so I tried to sleep it off. Marginally better. I got dressed and made my way through town to registration. Having done that, I made my way back through the city to the reception, which was being held in the town hall. I didn't manage to eat very much at the reception, although I'm sure everything was good. I chatted with a colleague, excused myself, browsed the proceedings, and headed back to the hotel. I bought a Coke on the way back, and that pretty much settled my head and stomach back to normal. I watched some CNN and, exhausted, fell asleep. I woke up this morning, nicely on Belgium time. So my new method of adjusting yourself to a new timezone: a hangover. I probably won't try that on the way back, though.

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