Saturday, July 2, 2011

Adventure Log 2 - Settling In

I'm currently sitting in my place drinking coffee and eating a box of truffles (woot Belgium!).  Here's what went down in the last couple days:

After spending an evening in my temporary accomodations, I moved to the Groot Begijnhof which is a UNESCO world heritage site.
Where I Live
That's kinda neat.  As it was originally constructed in the 13th century, this is by the far the oldest place I've ever lived in.  Victoria has a lot of "Heritage Houses" and other old buildings, but I none of them predate Columbus.  So if your touring Belgium and hit up Leuven and happen to find yourself checking up historical sites, you should totally drop me a line.

Bells ring out in song every half hour.  On the hour is a Belgian folk song.  I don't know about what.

Also of note, while I've never seen a cobblestone in Victoria,  they are everywhere here.  I don't think I've ever seen a "paved" sidewalk.  It's always an ever changing mix of various types of cobbles.  They can be a little bit tricky to walk ok, my rolling suitcase hates them and I bet if you wore high heels you would have to be extremely dextrous.  They give me even more respect for the Paris Roubaix.  That remind me, the Tour De France starts today and I'm in the same timezone!

My Street - Cobble Stones
Another somewhat surprising structure standing only slightly more than sixteen steps away is a massive church.

Dare I say Cathedral?
Victoria was also pretty big on the churches, but nothing like these ones.  Here is another from downtown:

There a quite a few and they are all huge buildings.  I've found that I can almost navigate on churches alone.  "Look a church, I can get home from there"

That being said, Leuven is a small but difficult city to find your way around.  I'm used to living in places that were panned around a grid system.  You have numbered streets and named streets and you the avenues make sense.  Here we get this:

There are no numbers and street signs are almost non existant.  Instead of having them on the corner of an intersection, they're usually little blue signs hidden on the side of buildings.  But even if you do find out your on Tietezstraat, were that meets Dakenstraat or Parkstraat is a mystery to me.  After spending a good portion of the day trying to find a building were I could get my internet account activated I determined two things:
  1. Without the internet, I cannot find my way around a city much less a european one.
  2. I needed a some maps and I needed to plan out my routes to and from my place
And this was how my dinner table became a map table and my dinning room became a map room.  Why? Because you can't eat, if you don't know where to buy food.

I must travel from Groot Bejignhoff to mystical place known only as Dakenstraat 2, but how!
With a system of planned routes and the recently reaccuired power of google, I've managed to get a line on everything I need to keep my alive.  That being said I often get lost on the way home.  I get turned around pretty quick whenever I go inside a building.  That being said, so far so good and Leuven has proven to be a pretty awesome little city.  I'm really grateful for the opportunity to be here.

Here are some more pictures to take you out:

Every pizza place appears to be proudly Italian.  Some even have maps which point to the specific part of Italy.  I guess you gotta have the credentials

So many building have courtyards.  It seems like your almost always in nice cobblestone courtyard. 

This is above my door.  I have no clue what it means, maybe it involves a saint?  I couldn't tell you.

The street to the right of me.  There is the church I talked about earlier.

More church.  What!? I've never ever seen a building like this before.  The inside is really awesome too.

Angela asked me if there as a subway here.  I said I didn't know, but I figured there had to be one.  Turns out Angela was asking about an underground rail network not a sandwich shop.   Well you can get sandwiches, you cannot ride underground trains. Not that you'd have to.  This city is 2km across.


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