30 July 2007

Trip Blog. Day Eleven. The OMG Dutch Edition.

(Yeah, I forgot to post this, so it's out of order.)

23:14 Belgian Whatever Time; 16:14 CST.

Shortly after my last update, I went to the Travel Centre in Gare Central and hooked myself up with a train ticket to Maastricht for tomorrow. Sixteen Euros (about twenty bucks). Way better than all the time and angst of trying to find a bike shop here, particularly one where someone would not be bitchy (sorry Whit, it's really the only word for it) about my craptastic French of Doom. People here are kind of mean about it, even though I am trying. Both of the agents I visited in the Travel Centres were kind, though, and told me to just speak English as it would make the transaction go faster. I am getting better at thinking of the sentences in my head, though.

“Je voudrais un billet pour Maastricht, s'il vous plait.” (I would like a ticket for Maastricht, please.)

It is really not just me, though. Marah from Brasil is still having issues. It is not her fault, I think that neither of her two languages are French. Luisa continues to feel bad for not speaking better English, when I pointed out to her that the onus is not on her; I bear just as much responsibility for speaking no Italian as she could for not understanding my thorough mangling of the English language (Y'all wanna go have a beer? I try to speak more slowly and without contractions (I don't shout, though; that's ridiculous. She's not deaf; she's just Italian) Am I still inside these parentheses?)

Anyway, Brussels is pretty cool, as long as you aren't on the Metro. Ground level Brussels is really quite nice; there was a guy vacuuming the sidewalk earlier. A few people seem ok about the French thing; I even managed to order my lunch in French without anyone looking like they wanted to kill me.

“Je voudrais le nuggets de poulet et un petit frites, s'il vous plait. Et un jus d'orange.”

And no, I was NOT at Mackers. After lunch, I wandered around some more until I wandered into Le Grand Place, or, in Dutch (people are calling it Flemish; perhaps it's a dialect)

Grote Markt.

For those just tuning in, or those who have never had the misfortune to call something which is icky “Grote” in my presence, it so happens that “Grote” is my mother's maiden name. I, possibly we, had always assumed that it was a Good German Name (TM), on account of my heredity allegedly being as follows:

Mom: Three Quarters German, One Eighth each of Austrian and Wendish (Eastern Sorb)

Dad: Some amalgamation of Scots-Irish and Cherokee.

However, Grote appears to be decidedly Dutch (it also means “great” or “grand”; thus my uncle's names are Donald the Great and Chris the Great. It's great.) It might also explain Mom and Grandpa's dark hair and Uncle Chris' unusual length (Dutch people are taller than Germans). I'm going to look into it some more while I am in Maastricht so that I have someone to read the Dutch for me (the only Dutch I've found with a translation in a language I more or less understand are the train brochures and they do not have a whole lot of historical words in them), but I do not think that Grote is a German surname. I could be wrong. Of course, if I am not, that makes me Amber's cousin. Yeehaw!

I have been completely unable to find Harry Potter at all in any bookshops around here, and I am slightly irritated at that because I did not want to order it off of Amazon, but I feel like it would help me with my French SAT in October. Sigh. Perhaps I will make a trip to Quebec or something.

This evening, Marah the Brasilian and I went and had dinner. I had chicken brochette (brochette means on a skewer. You learn something new every day. It also means that shrimp brochette is not that special) and fries, and then we each ordered dessert.

FABoulOUS!!! (With jazz hands)

I had a waffle with ice cream, hot chocolate syrup, caramel, fresh strawberries and whipped cream. It was BRILLIANT.

On the walk back, I took some very nice photos of the cathedral and of some kind of light show that was going on in the Grote Markt. And now we are back. And now I am going to read some more of this book that I am reading for school (I AM, in fact, doing some of my school work), and then I shall go to bed. Hooray!

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