Alright, so I’m still a day behind on my blogs. I really wanted to be productive yesterday, so I made sure that I did one blog and then enjoyed some good quality time in Leuven. So, what happened yesterday you ask. Well, let’s just say that for most people it was a day to just try to keep on running. Yesterday was our first fairly significant cultural day, so most people took an opportunity to prepare for this by spending Wednesday night out in the bars of Leuven. As I may or may not have mentioned, Leuven is a student town that is well known for its bar scene. To a bunch of loud obnoxious Canadian students, this is a rather exciting prospect. It was actually a really great night that saw the entire group find its way to the same bars. I continued to slowly sample to the Belgian beers available, but also performed my usual role as the team dad. I may have put my don face on for a couple of moments to make sure that everyone got home alive and well. Don’t worry, I had a great time and I wasn’t too ‘responsible’ haha, but I like to think that I helped keep things together for everyone!
Most people didn’t get back to the Irish College and back to bed until quite late in the morning, so needless to say, it was a rather early morning for some. The plan for the day didn’t help these unfortunate souls out either! The schedule was for the majority of the class to rent bicycles for a cycling tour of the region around Leuven. I haven’t been on a bike for any significant amount of time for a while, so it was actually fantastic to get on one again. The day was a great change of pace for me. I have been enjoying our days in Brussels, but I had that sort of fish bowl tourist experience feeling going on. I knew that we were only seeing a small portion of what Belgium was all about and probably weren’t seeing the way that the typical Belgian lived. The ride around Leuven gave us a great feel for the culture of the surrounding area and provided a snapshot into people’s lives. We rode into the Flanders region of Belgium and were able to see poppies growing ‘row on row’ in the fields. Poppies sort of grow in a similar abundance to dandelions in Canada. At first we thought that we were really lucky to be seeing poppies…However, after seeing them consistently for the next 3km we realized that perhaps it wasn’t as exciting as we thought! The rest of the ride took us past our professor’s old house, a number of farms, through multiple villages and finally to our halfway point at a great cafe (see picture above). We ate lunch and had a drink before heading back. I ate what Dr. Brooks described as a typical regional dish. I couldn’t hope to pronounce let alone spell the name of the dish, but it was essentially meatballs and cooked cherries. My empty bowl is in the picture to the left. Dr. Brooks is the guy in the blue shirt next to Yasmeen. I also drank an Abbey beer by the name of Tongerlo which came at the recommendation of Dr. Brooks.
On the way back we stopped at a homemade ice cream shop and were treated to ice cream by Brooksy as we affectionately refer to him as. I was recommended the ‘Speculaas’ flavour. Speculaas is a kind of Belgian cookie that based on the ice cream flavour seems to fall somewhere in the neighbourhood of gingerbread.
We returned to the College by mid-afternoon and most people went off to take a nap. I worked on my NATO blog and somehow got it into my head that I wanted to go for a run. So, later on that evening I set out to explore. I put on my running stuff and just started running. Over the course of my hour long run I made my way out of Leuven and into a neighbouring town by the name of Korbeek-Dijle (Check out the link, it’s in Dutch, but if you let google translate it, or look up the name again you will find some information. I just liked the pictures in this entry). It was a perfect evening for a run and I once again got to get an even better idea of what life in Belgium is truly like. It was a great adventure to run out of the main town square, into the suburbs and then on to the farm dotted ‘country’. The next time I run I will bring my camera and take some pictures of my own. All told I think that I ran about 10-12km which really didn’t feel like a lot because I was so preoccupied with my sightseeing.
Yesterday was a great day and a great chance to run off some of the rich Belgian food I have been eating!