Europe International Trips Travel Blog

Heading Home: The Scenic Route

Written by Don Pogreba

The end of the trip has been filled with a bit of medical adventure, as I seem to have actually sprained my ankle in that scrum to get on a shuttle bus from the train station to my stop in Almere, Netherlands, but it didn’t stop me from hobbling around Bruges for five hours yesterday and the Van Gogh Museum for two today.

Bruges was quite interesting. When I initially pulled into the bus parking space, it felt incredibly touristy, and I was worried that the city would be a let down, not to the level of the excellent movie that made me want to visit the city.

And make no mistake: Bruges is a huge tourist hub, filled with people and vendors selling things. That being said, it’s got an incredibly well-preserved town square and enough old brick buildings to make this grandson of a mason smile and take photos for hours. I couldn’t help but think, as I was looking at the brick buildings, some constructed in the 1500s, about summer Sundays driving around Cut Bank with my grandfather looking at brick work he’d done. Somehow, I think he’d have loved Bruges, for the beer and the brick.

A few blocks north of the central market square, I found myself entirely alone for long stretches, and was able to wander by a few more old churches, rows of houses, and some giant windmills. I’d definitely recommending wandering that way, with the understanding that there are almost restaurants or shops in that area.

I wrapped up the stay with a canal ride (complete with a delightfully foul-mouthed captain), a waffle, and some mussels and fries. If you are going to have mussels for the first time, Bruges might just be the place to do it, but they were quite expensive.

I did realize by the end of the day, though, that trollish introvert though I may be, I have been missing long conversation on this trip. I fell in with a couple of women from B.C. and sold the virtues of Montana to them for a solid span of time, and might have been a little too excited about both the prospect of conversation and my state. I’m ready for some long chats with people in my own language, I think.

The Van Gogh Museum was, as expected, great. Check him out. He did some paintings.

The injury, timing, and transportation problems mean I really didn’t get a chance to explore Amsterdam, which I will have to add to a future trip.

And now for the long road home. I leave Amsterdam at 6:30 tonight for Madrid, which I leave at 10:55 tomorrow night for Keflavik. After an eight hour layover there which is likely to be quite strange, off to Seattle on Thursday, and home after that, just in time for the first day of school.

More pictures of the whole journey to come once I get home.

About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is an eighteen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate. In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.