In Brugges . . . (And Brussels)

It feels like it’s been ages since I posted.

Technically it’s only been 11 days. Theoretically, I should’ve gotten 88 hours of sleep in those 10 days. In reality, I probably got 45. maybe 55.

Why, you ask, did I sleep half as much as a sane person?

Perhaps this week’s breakdown will explain why:

Wednesday, September 26: 

Last Wednesday night, we attended an event that was part of an annual celebration here in Bonn: Beethovenfest.

Bonn happens to be the birthplace of Ludwig van Beethoven, so every September the city has a month-long festival of concerts and performances; music and Beethoven galore.

The wonderful people over at AIB took us to one of said events; but all we knew was we were going to a “classical concert.” We all got dressed up,

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and trekked through the rain to AIB. There, were we given a rather interesting warning from Olivia: The concert was actually more of a dance performance.  Two Japanese dancers would be showing us some “modern movement”, accompanied by a pianist playing renditions of classical music (I think???). So, we were told, if we didn’t like it, we were free to leave at intermission. Because it was going to be a “different” performance.

And that it was. But it was also interesting. To be honest, I got a little tired of watching the dancers, but the pianist was absolutely incredible. Listening to that music was a wonderful experience. Despite the weird dancing happening along with it.

Thankfully, however, there was no intermission; because the show was rather short.

Afterward, we all went for a drink at what has become one of my favorite bars: James Joyce.

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(Panaromic courtesy of Matt Ballard)

It’s an Irish pub, in a random little alley in the city center. The walls are covered in books and old pictures, everything is wooden, the floors creak when you walk, and there’s a little nook in a corner with an old, red, velvety couch. It’s absolutely fantastic.

All 21 of us crowded into one booth in the back, and we were so loud that eventually everyone left but us. We didn’t mind. We shared pitchers of cider and kölsch around the table, told funny stories, and had great conversations. A few people even invented a rather dangerous drinking game for the group (never to be played, always to be admired).

A few of us stayed behind after most of the group went home, and kept talking and laughing. We stayed out long enough that I caught the last train home: night 1 of little sleep.

Thursday, September 17th:

To be honest, Thursday was a rather uneventful day. We spent it working on our second project. Matt, Alex, and I went to a quaint cafe to Brainstorm, headed to the Rheinaue(a MASSIVE park) to location scout, then came back to AIB to present our ideas to the class.

I spent that afternoon conducting some interviews for my documentary, but after that I went home and it was a normal day.

Friday, September 18th: 

Now THIS was a crazy day.

I got up bright and early, strapped on my JetPack (what Kelcey and I have now decided to call my camera backpack. because it’s MASSIVE), and trekked to AIB to check out some equipment and head to our location so we could start filming.

After getting the gear, Matt, Alex, and I hopped on a bus to the park, and started our shoot.

This was Alex’s first time doing cinematography on a glidecam, so it was a fun day. And it was a bit of a complicated project that we all would have liked to have more time to do than we were given. So it was a long day.

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But it was still a cool experience.

That night I went home to pack for the weekend. But then I realized that I still had to do laundry.

So I stayed up and did it. Because I needed clothes. But I ended up getting maybe 3-4 hours of sleep that night. becaaauuuussseee . . .

Saturday, September 19th: Brussels

When I left my house, it was still dark. I arrived at the hauptbahnhof at 6:15am, met up with Kim and Nader, and waited for the others (of the smaller group of us going on this trip) to arrive.

Once everyone got there, we hopped on a train to Cologne, where we walked a ways and then got on a bus bound for Brussels, Belgium. And then we all slept for most of the 3 hour drive.

We arrived in an interestingly urban part of Brussels, then walked about 30 minutes to our hostel, where we dropped of our bags before heading into the city center.

The walk was about another 30 minutes, so we meandered about for a while. We walked, we (of course) found some waffles (I will never eat eggos again), we found a mall that looked like a palace, tried some macarons, crashed a wedding, and found some sort of festival thing with dancers in teh Grand Place. Oh, and we crashed a wedding.

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We then hopped on a walking tour that Alex planned for us (she was wonderful and basically planned the whole trip for us), which led us around the city. Our Irish guide (who offered us suggestions of where to go in Dublin) led us around, showing us the Manneken Pis (a.k.a. the most famous statue in Brussels; and it’s of a peeing child), the Tin Tin murals on the buildings, the various districts, the very first stock exchange (I think that’s what it was?), and a gorgeous view of Brussels.

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After the tour ended we trekked back to our hostel, checked in, and found our rooms. It was a strange hostel; it was styled to be a “home for modern artists” so all the room numbers looked like street art, and random doodles were painted on the walls. The hallways looked a little gross and smelled like piss. But the rooms, in contrast, were insanely nice (for a hostel). Which was a welcome surprise. I slept in the room of 6. Amanda, Alex, Kim and I took the bunk beds, and the boys took the other side of the room. We then discovered this odd yet very funny window in the bunk beds. Also? We found someone’s underwear in the elevator.

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That night, we went to my favorite place in brussels (after the waffles stands): Delirium Café

Delirium is a bar in Brussels that holds a Guinness World Record for having more than 3,000 beers on tap. We were told we had to go, so we did. And when we arrived, we discovered just how popular this place was.

There was practically no breathing room, you had to fight your way through a standstill crowd to get to the bar; this place took up an entire alley, and the crowd poured into that alley. We somehow managed to find a table that fit most of us (and was conveniently located by the bar), but we literally had to pounce on it once its previous inhabitants left. That being said, it was still amazing.

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It seems like it’s just one room, and then you wander around and discover it’s probably over 20 different rooms, with several different bars. It’s a massive place, and every inch of it is covered in character (and it’s filled with attractive men). Great night.

But we headed to bed somewhat early (meaning midnight-ish or 1), because a) we had a long walk back to the hostel, and b) I had an early morning planned. (Day 3 of little sleep)

Sunday, September 20th: Bruges

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Earlier this semester, we watched a film called In Bruges, featuring Collin Farrell and Brandon Gleeson (a.k.a. Mad-Eye Moody). The film was set almost entirely in, who would’ve guessed, Bruges. It was a great movie. And the setting looked cool. So naturally, when I found out Bruges was an easy day trip from Brussels, I knew I had to go.

Through the tour company that showed us around Brussels, I booked a relatively inexpensive day trip to Bruges, which included a roundtrip train ticket and a 4 hour walking tour of the city. And the ticket was a day-pass, so we could leave whenever we wanted. I was ready to go alone if necessary, but thankfully Nader wanted to go as well. And bright and early Sunday morning, a somewhat sleepy Alex decided she’d like to go too. Huzzah!

So that morning we made the trek back to Grand Place, where we met our tour guide, who led us to the train station.

A little over an hour later, we were in “F*cking Bruges,” and one of the first things we saw was a gorgeous park (shown above). I instantly knew I was going to love this place.

The tour was insanely long, but took us to many wonderful places. We went to “The Bridge of Love” (named after two ‘lovers’ who both drowned beneath it. lol. . . ),

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we saw a local brewery that Bruges is known for (Great beer), saw the bricked over door of a whore house,

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We saw some Churches, and the canals that make Bruges “the Venice of the North,” some more cool old buildings and quaint cobble-stone streets, saw the tower that Brandon Gleeson’s character threw himself out of (unfortunately, while we wanted to climb the 300-some-odd steps to the top, they’re apparently very strict about closing times, and we arrived 2 minutes late), walked past Bruges’ Fry museum (Fun fact: French Fries aren’t “french,” they’re Belgian. And some American soldiers got confused. so now it’s our fault. But make no mistake: Belgian fries are the real ones, and there is NO comparison) and saw most of the city (stopping, of course, to get waffles. Another fun fact: Bruges has better waffles than Brussels).

After the tour, we did some of our own wandering; we went into two chapels that were really different and really cool, grabbed a bite to eat, stopped back at the brewery to get some beers to take home, and stopped by a chocolate store to get some chocolate, because there was NO way we were leaving Belgium without chocolate.

We then wandered back toward the train station, and stopped for a little dancing on the way. (Also, Bruges is practically overrun by swans. Gorgeous, elegant, loud, and obnoxious swans).

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We then hopped on the train back to Brussels, on which we had to sit in between two compartments because it was absolutely packed. But it was fun, and we had chocolate, so oh well.

We arrived in brussels, met up with the group, grabbed some food for the road, and boarded the bus that would take us back to Cologne.

We got to Cologne a little late, so everyone was speed-walking to the train station (Rachel’s last bus was set to leave the Bonn Hauptbahnhof 2 minutes before we were set to arrive). Nader and some people ran ahead to get the tickets, and a smaller group of us lagged behind.

We got to the platform, but we didn’t see the others, so we decided to just wait. The train arrived moments later, and we saw them getting on, so we thought “Perfect! We found them!”

They then told us (as we were boarding the train), that Nader was waiting for us down in the station to make sure we got there and had a ticket.

Antonio bolted down the stairs shouting Nader’s name, and a few minutes later they came sprinting up the stairs and onto the train. I have never seen Nader run that fast. And in the end the train sat there for 5 minutes.

We ended up getting back to Bonn around midnight, Rachel had to run in front of her leaving bus to make it stop so she could get on, and I once again caught one of the last trains home. (Day 4 of little sleep)

Monday, September 21st: 

The next day we spent editing the project we had filmed on Friday, which was a dreadful day for all. No one, and I mean NO ONE, had gotten a sufficient amount of sleep the night before, and then half of the class was stuck down in the stuffy, stifling, and loud editing room below. Thankfully Alex, Matt and I weren’t stuck down there, but editing was not an easy experience on little to no sleep.

After class, I did some more interviews, then headed home for the night.

Our finished cut of our project was due in the morning, but I figured I would just finish up the editing at home. Which I did. But what I didn’t figure was that it would take me forever.

I wanted the cuts to be perfect, and the sound had to be replaced; and then it all needed to be color corrected.

All-in-all I ended up staying up until 3am. Horrible decision.

Tuesday, September 22nd:

We had German class at 8:45am the next day (which I was late for). Oh, and we had a quiz (which I’m pretty sure I did terrible on).

Then we screened everyone’s projects. Which was fine, but I was trying not to fall asleep.

But after the screenings we were assigned our next project: to sort through the “Janet” footage and organize all of it.

The “Janet” footage was strange, and long, and boring. And I was practically delirious. Thankfully, however, Andreas let Kelcey and I leave to go get Ice Cream.

After class ended I gave up and went home, figuring I’d finish it that night. I did half of it before falling asleep. That was the first night where I got a decent amount of rest.

Wednesday, September 23rd:

But apparently that just made my body aware of how much rest I actually needed, because I overslept. And when I woke up I felt just as tired as the day before. I was nearly late to our 8:45 Doc Research Session (where we were supposed to be pitching our documentaries). But thankfully they had pastries, and we ran out of time so I didn’t have to pitch.

I think this was just the universe’s compensation however for the fact that, once Editing class started, I discovered that our assignment was not only to organize the Janet footage, but to edit something together as well. And now we only had an hour to do it. And to fix the TERRIBLE audio.

Of course no one finished in an hour, and we basically used up all of our class time (we got out early that day so we could prepare for later that night), which made Andreas rather upset.

After class I conducted another interview, then hung around for a bit at AIB before going home and attempting to study for our German final the next day.

I stayed just long enough to study and eat dinner, but sadly not long enough for a nap. Because I needed to be at the hauptbahnhof at 5:40pm, and lately the trains had been running either late or irregularly, and I couldn’t afford to be late. Because AIB was taking us to a Bundesliga game, otherwise known as my first European soccer match!

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We hopped on a train to Leverkusen, then walked to the Bay Arena where we watched Leverkusen play FSV Mainz.

I had a mediocre bratwurst, some DELICIOUS fries, and of course beer. Oh, and Billy almost got locked out of the stadium. I looked over from the food line to see him arguing with the security guards at the entrance. Thankfully Olivia got him in.

And probably 20-30 minutes later he remembered that Chris and Marlis were stuck outside too, because they needed the new tickets from Olivia. Oh Billy.

But eventually everyone got in. And the game was cool, Leverkusen won. But I have to say the most entertaining portion of the night was Antonio’s reaction.

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After the game we walked back to the train station, and during our walk Kim got surrounded by these loud men who decided to strike up a conversation with one of the Americans. They were funny, but they said some pretty strange things. We eventually out-walked them though.

We got to the train station, then hopped on the wrong train going the opposite direction. But we got off at the next stop, which thankfully allowed us to get on our train before the rest of the crowd from the game did.

We then got off in Cologne, where we waited for the ICE train to Bonn. Now that was a comfy train.

And once again, I caught one of the last (subway) trains home. And then I stayed up even later trying to study for the German final. Yet another night of little sleep.

Thursday, September 24th:

The next morning I woke up early to try to fit in some last minute studying before the test (which turned out to be useless because I studied the wrong thing). But I think I did relatively fine.

We spent the rest of the time before lunch in Directing class, watching documentaries.

After the lunch break, some of the student workers made us waffles (delicious, and wonderful, since I didn’t eat breakfast), and we had our Berlin pre-departure meeting. (Next week we’re going on our class excursion to Berlin for 4 days).

After that, we went to the House of German History here in Bonn, where we were lead on a tour by a man who was born a year before WWII, and had lived most of his life in a war-torn country. That was an interesting and cool experience; and he told funny but emotion-less jokes.

Afterward, I went home. And started reading the 200-some-odd pages that we had a test on the next day. So yet another night of little sleep.

Friday, September 25th:

I woke up early again to try to finish the reading. That didn’t happen. But I at least got a little more sleep that night.

I wrote far more information on the test than necessary, in the hopes that some of it might be the answer my professor was looking for.

After that we sat down and watched documentaries; and we got to speak to the directors of two of them (granted, one was my professor’s wife and the other was a grad student from LMU that most of my class already knew). And at lunch time I met with a subject for my documentary, who had an interesting story. I hope to interview her soon.

That evening I went home for a bit, then went out with some friends. We met at the biergarten, but it was a rather depressing sight now that it’s cold out and no one wants to drink outside. We then decided to walk to Butcher’s, a sports bar near Katy and Amanda’s house that I’ve grown to really like. Some more friends met up with us there, and we had a fun time.

I didn’t want to take the night bus, so I left early. I walked back to the hauptbahnhof myself, missed the train I planned to get on, and waited around for about 30-40 minutes for the last train home. I nearly fell asleep in the station, and then I nearly fell asleep on the train. Thankfully the next day I slept in for a bit.

Saturday, September 26th:

The next day, I slept in, started working on this blog, and then met up with Eddie to wander around Bonn for a while. We didn’t really see much in terms of sights or museums, but we did get to explore some neighborhoods we haven’t been to, and we finally went into the church.

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Afterward I came home for a bit, interviewed my host mother and ate some dinner, and then headed back out to meet up with some friends at Butcher’s again. And once again, I left early, walked to the hauptbahnhof, and caught the last train home.

But then I slept in until nearly 11 o’ clock this morning. So, it seems I finally got some sleep.

But that’s probably my only night, because tomorrow we leave for Berlin, and from Berlin my friends and I go to Munich for Oktoberfest. Stay tuned friends! I’m sure that post will be just as packed as this one. . .

Tschüss!

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