Thursday, August 11, 2011


originally posted May 21/11

another long email, friends...


Bruges is a lovely city, however it is Jos' allergy helltown. They
specialize in beer and chocolate (many with nuts) and Jos is allergic
to them. Cherries are all over the place and that ragweed is

Poor Jos! In the morning, she wasn't feeling too well. Patrick's
breakfast was a wonderful spread, yet again. Jos could barely eat. She
ate a few things and then politely excused herself from the table we
shared with the French guests. I was worried about her. Jos doesn't
usually give up on a good meal like that. I hurried eating and went to
check on her. She was back in bed with the lights off, sleeping. I
took a few things and left the room. I sat outside doing stuff for a
while to give her some time to relax before we checked out.


Patrick is so kind. He offered to drive us to Tine's Guesthouse. Tine
had offered to pick us up at the stn and Patrick had initially offered
to drop us off there, but then said he'd drive us there himself. He's
so nice. Jos was still feeling ill and he picked up on it too. Patrick
dropped us off and then quickly left. We are very thankful to him and
Magda for their great hospitality and will have to write a review for
them on tripadvisor!


Tine showed us around and was very friendly and welcoming. Jos told me
she'd stay at the B&B for bit and try to sleep off the sickness. In
the meantime, I asked Tine if she could translate the name of the
medicine I should buy for Jos. Instead, she gave me over the counter
medicine to give to Jos. Gave it to her and said I would come back
around 1pm to check on her. I navigated my way back downtown.


I went to Neuhaus and contemplated buying the TINTIN tin boxes of
chocolate. The lady told me that if I bought three, I would also get
one of the TINTIN books free b/c TINTIN's 100 year anniversary was
coming up. She only had 1 english copy left. I checked my pockets and
saw that I didn't have enough. I left thinking I would have to go
back. On the way back to the B&B, I picked up a toy for the cats.


Jos came out with me and I told her to go ahead to the other chocolate
store nearby while I withdrew money. I met her at the store and she
had purchased these marzipan grapes dipped in chocolate which was
their specialty. I wanted to buy them too but on a smaller scale. I
ended up buying the marzipan filling dipped in chocolate and it was
divine. After we left the shop, Jos took a few steps and then had to
lean on something. She immediately asked me if I could get her some
water. I hurried to the store next door and got her some water. She
drank a bit and then told me she should go back to the B&B. I took her
back and then asked her what she wanted me to get for her. She was
going to try to sleep it off again. I was worried about her, but she
was determined to have me go out. I finally agreed to go for a few
hours but come back as soon as possible.


You know that feeling where you're excited, but you're a bit scared?
Think of a bird who knows how to take off into flight, but doesn't
know how to land. Now....think of me on a bike. That's what biking
here is like for me. The seats are too high!! That, or I was made too
vertically challenged! Once I'm on the bike, I'm fine. Its just the
mounting and dismounted part that gives me the trouble. When I went to
look for the bikes, I was like Goldilocks and the Three Bears...kind
of, sort of, not really. I looked at one bike and knew immediately
that it wouldn't work out. I looked at the second bike and I tried it
out. I couldn't even get on the seat and almost toppled. Then I tried
the bike that was supposed to have the lowest seat.

You see, two ppl just returned their bikes to the B&B before leaving.
Tine, the owner of the B&B even adjusted the seat to the lowest. I
tried to get onto it and almost fell. The three of them looked at me
skeptically. The guy says to me, "it's easy as riding a
bike...hahahaa" Tine asked me if I was going to be okay. You know
Dizons...stubborn and full of pride...I said I'd be okay, then
promptly just avoided falling backward down someone's driveway. She
asked again if I'd be okay and I gave her a hopeful smile. As soon as
she went inside, I put the bike on the street and used the sidewalk to
get on...then I missed the pedal and wiped out on the sidewalk.
Luckily, no one saw me...

I was determined not to lose face, so I reasoned with myself. As long
as I could find a ledge to hold onto, or sidewalk ledge to help get on
the bike or put my foot on, I should be ok. I had a list of things to
do: pick up the chocolate that I had wanted to buy yesterday, buy Jos'
chocolate, hit the Chocolate Museum, take the canal tour and get back
to North Face to pick up a duffel for us to use as our extra luggage.
It was already 2:30pm when I left and the stores closed at 6pm. If I
wanted to get everything done, I'd have to bike to the city centre. I
also know my limits. If I was already unsteady on the bike, there's no
way I could carry the shopping, so I emptied my knapsack and took it
with me. I am fine biking at home, as long as I can at least tippy toe
when I stop the bike. It was exhilarating while I was biking, riding
the bike on the wide road. It was when the street got more narrow, the
cars and trucks closer, the sidewalks more densely packed with people
that I started to worry. At one point I had to bike so slowly in order
to avoid running over an old lady or being hit by a car. I made the
call to bike to the main street, lock the bike and go around by foot.
No sense in me crashing into who knows what... I locked the bike up
and took Cpics of the location, so I'd remember where it was and
rushed to do the errands.

Biking here is the most popular type of transportation it seems...I
would have regretted not biking, so I'm glad I did it even though it
made me so nervous!!


One last stop at the Chocolate Line on behalf of Jos. The chocolatier
was there again and he gave me three commemorative chocolates for
free. What a nice guy! It helps that Jos spent a buttload there

The TINTIN boxes were calling out to me. I knew I'd regret it if I
didn't buy it. Go big or go home, should be go big and go home broke.
Oh well! I am happy with the chocolates and tins.


In short, it was nice and very informative. I especially liked the
free chocolate in the beginning and at the end of the demonstration. I
literally took pics of everything for Jos and myself b/c I didn't have
time to roam around. I had to do everything before 6pm.


The canal tour wasn't as bad as I had expected. It looked kind of
cheesy and there were parts of the canal that didn't look so great. I
later found out those parts were not on the tour! A bit of history
learned was that the houses with lots of windows meant rich people.
There was tax on every window a house had. People used to use carrier
pigeons and some of the houses have pigeon windows. Some houses are
painted with a combination of ingredients, including cow's blood for
the reddish colour. I'll add the rest of the history onto the picture
notes when I upload them~


The race to North Face started with a race to find where I parked the
bike. LOL. Luckily I found it fairly quickly. I used a stair to get on
the bicycle on the sidewalk and pedaled my way to North Face. It was
already close to 6:15pm and it should technically be closed! WHew. I
made it in time before they closed. Yay! New luggage for us.

JOS and the supermarket

She didn't wake up until I came back. She was really sick. I went out
to get the food at the supermarket. Got bread, cheese to try out,
smoked turkey for Jos and some random snacks. Picked up fries and
headed back. Jos ate a bit and then retreated back to the bed. I made
sure she drank lots of water. Poor Jos...

I'l tell you the swan story in the next email..this one is epic long...

-Sam & Jos ^___^

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