Let's see here. Before I went back to PA we started to dig up the yard. As you can see in the first photo it was all weeds, and pretty useless as it was a lot of nettles and such. So we dug everything up and started from scratch again. When I got back we finished up and planted the grass seeds and hoped it would grow. We went to Belgium the following week so we were a little worried that the grass seeds would dry out and die, but we came back to the grass starting to grow! Above is our backyard (well half of the backyard) right now and it is so much nicer! We have some chairs and a table and such when it is sunny we can sit out there and eat frozen treats and it is just really nice. It's a little patchy still, but it is filling in nicely. It is nice that all of our hard work paid off!
We had finished up with the yard on Cinco de Mayo! So we headed off to the park to hang out for a bit, then off to the Mexican place for some tacos and margaritas! We were sitting outside at the end of a long table and this larger group came and sat with us. They were a family on vacation from North Dakota and were super nice. Their one son, who was with them, lived in Seattle and had moved over to Germany (Frankfurt) 2 years ago so we were chatting about Seattle and Germany and all the fun things in North Dakota (corn palace! Wall Drug! So much fun). It was a really nice afternoon.
Then later that week it was off to Belgium! I was really excited as well..Belgium seemed like it would be fun, and there was a roller derby tournament so how could it not be amazing? Well...so we left Berlin early on a Thursday and flew to Brussels and took the train from there to Gent (where the roller derby was). We were there a day before the roller derby started so we could explore Gent, but I had forgotten that it was a public holiday.
Gent is not a very big town so we walked from the train station to downtown as it wasn't that far and...it was like a ghost town. It was very strange as it was like 11am and there were not very many people. Above is a main intersection and...well you can see how busy it was. It was just very strange wandering this empty city. There were more people in the main downtown area, but not as many as the other days we were there.
We spent most of the day wandering as it was gorgeous outside. Sunny and beautiful.
We ate lunch at this little vegan buffet place and people kept coming and sitting inside when it was so nice out! I don't understand that. I pretty much always choose to be outside if possible. Raymond used to complain when I would make him eat dinner outside in Seattle when it was still chilly and we were wearing jackets, but man if it is sunny outside it is!
St Bavo's Cathedral. You are not able to take photos inside, but around the outside they had this oddly dark modern art display. I thought it was strange for a church, but apparently having art shows in churches is the thing to do in Gent. It wasn't religious art either, just general modern art. Odd.
The strangest though was in St Nicholas' Cathedral where there was a fashion show. They were quite odd and I still think it is strange for it to be held in a church.
A sign on the tram - no eating things in cone shapes! I must say for all the talk of fries in Belgium we didn't come across very many places to get fries which was quite disappointing.
We tried to go into St Jacobs, but were not able to. So we sat down for a short break and then suddenly the doors opened. It was odd as it was later in the afternoon so you would think it would be open already...
The outside and inside of St Jacobs. The last photo is the heaters which were kind of crazy.
We had a tourist map that listed all the fun and exciting places to see. This was one - the Big Cannon. Raymond was super impressed with it.
The last two photos are from this underpass that is not very long and dark when you are walking down the stairs. Then you get down there, but you can see the walls painted with people. Then once you get down there this black light goes on and music that plays and you can see the smoke and stuff that was in black light paint. It was pretty awesome and I really enjoyed it.
We walked around in a loop and saw all the fancy buildings Gent had to offer. Really it is a tiny city, and outside of the downtown area where all the big churches and such are the rest of the city it not as pretty. Then we had a sit by the canal and there was this silly puppy sitting down a bit from us. It was so nice out, though it was starting to get cloudy and once the sun went away it got chillier, but not too bad.
We saw more people while wandering in the downtown area, but it was odd as no one seemed very happy. Everyone seemed miserable which is just strange. I mean a whole city full of unhappy people? Odd. They weren't rude or mean or anything, they just seemed unhappy. Though when I was taking the last photo above this lady was walking down the road toward us and was one of the only people I saw smile outside of roller derby. I remember because I thought wow we are not the only happy people here! I figured she was just visiting as well.
We were staying at a hotel that first night as we didn't find a person to stay with since it was a holiday and everyone we wrote to were traveling themselves. We woke up the next day and headed off to meet with our couchsurfer we would stay with the rest of the weekend and he lived in this nice little neighborhood. His place used to be housing for factory workers and was like this little community of places and he said they are very popular. Inside was skinny and multi leveled and was really cute. He was super happy and friendly which was odd, but then we found out he is from Argentina so that explained it! He is from Buenos Aires he said a lot of his friends who have been to Berlin find that it is very similar to Buenos Aires, not in architecture and such but in the vibe of the city. We are going to have to check it out one day and see if they are correct! He was really nice, but unfortunately we only saw him that morning since he worked nights and we were at roller derby during the day.
The roller derby was pretty awesome. The venue seemed so small, but there was plenty of seating for everyone.The first photos are Helsinki (in the bright yellows) vs Stockholm which was an incredible bout! Stockholm was ranked 1, Helsinki 8 and Helsinki came back in the second half to beat Stockholm! It was a very good bout. The second photo is Berlin (in red) vs Gent.
While I was in PA my mom and I watched this house show that had interesting houses on it. One was this barge in Gent that these people lived on. Well apparently a lot of people do it as the canals by our couchsurfers place had tons of them. It was raining on Saturday when we woke up and headed off to day two of roller derby, but since we would be inside most of the day it was fine.
Apparently you can get the Edward or Jacob haircut here!
We did walk around a little bit on the way to get lunch and it did clear up nicely while we were doing so (which was very nice of the weather to cooperate).
There was at least 45 min between bouts which was nice since you could get food or walk around a bit. On one of the breaks we explored under the road by where roller derby was. It was odd as the graffiti was only on the one side of the poles.
This tournament was also the best in terms of food options for us. They had tons of vegan options which were delicious! Banana nut muffins, veggie burgers, chili nachos all so good. I don't know what they used for the veggie burgers, but they were so tasty! They also had hummus plate with cous cous and such, chocolates, and other treats that were all vegan! I loved it. Usually we can only get like french fries or something that is not really a meal. The food also was not very expensive, cheaper than eating out anywhere else we went to there, so that was also pretty awesome.
This is Crime City vs Stockholm. I really like Crime City's outfits (the yellow ones).
And Berlin who were the winners!
After the last bout on Sunday we went to this fry place for dinner and man did you get a lot of food. It was incredibly cheap, but so much food! Tons of fries even though we didn't order the large (I wonder how much you would have gotten if you had)! It was a but crazy. I must say though that the fries were just okay. They do not salt them at all, which while I don't like a lot of salt I do like a little bit. They also don't have dips for the fries. I guess you can usually buy some if you want, but it is just odd to not get ketchup with your fries! And that plate in front of me is all the food we ordered for both of us - I wasn't going to try and eat it all myself ;)
You also got a lollipop with all your fried foods, and the stick was plastic with a hollow center and a small notch and I had way too much fun with them in the train from Gent to Brussels. Other people on the train didn't seem as happy as I was...oh well. Too bad for them! Anyways after the tournament on Sunday and after dinner we took the train back to Brussels to spend the night there and then fly back to Berlin Mon night (which would give us most of a day to explore Brussels). Gent had been nice, though strange with all the unhappy people. We took the bus down to roller derby and the people we....well they speak Dutch and French there and it was the first time I thought French did not sound that nice. I love French, but these people were...it was just odd. Even though the people were not happy, I would still go back and visit again. We didn't get a chance to explore outside of the city center much so we shall have to return. Alright next up Brussels!