Poperinge and the road to Westvleteren
We continued through Poperinge, bike-topping and in pursuit of something that we were sure was there. And the nice part about looking with Nils is that you'll generally find something.
We left the church, outside of which we had not chained our bikes because there was nothing to chain them to aside from a large tree or small dog. We chose the humanitarian approach, figuring Belgians would not steal a bike from outside a church, lest a nun come and fire excommunications at them.
We biked back into the center of town. It was noon. We were not yet hungry enough for food. So we toured more. And arrived on an ex-soldier retreat for the Brits in WWI. It probably doubled (hell, it probably singled) as a brothel, but was a big mansion-house with a bunch of different rooms devoted to giving the troops diversion from the blood and their guns just miles away. Some guys would tell the chaplain there stuff like 'I'll probably not make it back this way again, father, so pray for me.'
But museums about it don't.
Soldiers today, like Nils, make such better targets.
We sat, alone in a room, and watched a sepia video about soldiers watching Vaudeville-type actors dance about and make lilting jokes about the war while blue smoke crept to the ceiling.
We got lunch afterwards, eating at a cafe right around the street. Lambics and omelettes (much to the annoyance of the staff, the omelettes were) were had. Oh yeah, and St. Bernardus Tripel, regarded as the second-best beer in the world.
The best one would come soon, soon.And later, so was Dr. Quinn, before our love-cookfest!
Belgian supermarket = Belgian beers. It hurt to leave.
Kids parading, again, for Carnivale, the European Mardis Gras. This happened all night long, a lot like high school homecoming parades, with flatbed trucks and high-schoolers dreaming of the golden and definite future.
This is sleep, now.
Yup, more racism.
On bikes, taking a picture of the town center before we embarked on THE VISION QUEST.
For beer enthusiasts, Westvleteren is mecca. There are six Trappist breweries in the world, all in Belgium. The trappists, a form of the Benedictine Order of monks, brew some of the top-regarded beers on planet Earth, in short because they spend their entire lives doing it. Beer is their service of God.
Refer to the postings on Rome for my views on religious mission.
But anyway, the town sits 5 km north of Poperinge, so we set off.
The cold felt like constantly being slapped with brooms covered in ice. Mucus dragged along cheeks, like plows on fields, eventually flying off if they didn't freeze to facial hair. Well, Nils' facial hair. Even after a week, my face still was Sammy Davis-smooth.