Monday, July 27, 2009

it's that time of year again

Nope, I don't mean Christmas in July (a holiday celebrated solely by car dealerships in America). It's festival time in Europe and in Belgium, so I thought I would outline my as-yet favorite: the colossal Geentse Feesten (Ghent Festival).

This festival is so awesome that it is made up of not one but four actual festivals, making it the largest open air cultural festival in Europe. The entire city center is taken over by music, food, performers and hippie clothing stalls for what is called the "10 Days Off", when most of the festivals happen to overlap.

One of them is the International Puppet Busker festival, where these local kids were occupying some prime real estate. There were also a ton of regular buskers, such as a guy who was making animal balloons, and then proceeded to eat a blown up balloon. He was also wearing an inflatable glove on his head for no discernable reason. Luckily, there were also many other better acts there.

Unlike the puppet guys, who seemed to cater mainly to Flemish kids, the regular buskers almost all seemed to be from the UK. I can't say I'm too surprised, since I have never seen anyone give a street musician or performer money in Belgium. Not even the very clever guy who dresses himself like a statue and hides among the other statues on the side of the cathedral in Antwerp. I'm always slightly disappointed when I don't see him there, freaking out the tourists by jumping out at them.

There's also the world renowned Gent Jazz Festival, this year headlined by B.B. King. I didn't get to see the master play on Lucille this year, but I did get to see American jazz pianist Brad Mehldau. It was some of the best live jazz I've ever seen, and somehow even though he is a Florida native like me, Brad did his entire introduction in Dutch. People like that make me feel like a language retard, but then I looked it up and he's married to a Dutch woman (clearly cheating).

Today's the closing day of the festival, so if you didn't get a chance to check it out this year, tough cookies. Anyone want to come back with me next year?

Monday, July 13, 2009

only in lille

Searching for the true authentic French experience, and also because we could, a few friends and I decided to go to another country for the day; namely, the French town of Lille, about 10 minutes' drive past the French "border".

We wandered around the town, eating and drinking in cafes, checking out vintage bookstalls, and trying our best to look French and chic and nothing at all like tourists, anything but that. I even practiced my French....sort of. If asking for a scoop of ice cream to go on my hunk o' cake counts as practice. Miming it in the process.

In the true style of broke tourists in Europe in the summer, we did the obvious thing: took a peaceful nap in a green park located in vieux Lille. Ahhh, life was good.


Something still didn't seem right...

AuuuuUGHHHHH!! Giant 25 foot tall demonic bat babies are taking over the French countryside!

Not only that, there was even a demon baby riding a dinosaur, which according to the plaque, was supposed to symbolize the past riding the future. But also vice versa.

I don't know what that's supposed to mean, but I do know that it's SCARY.

So, in such a horrific situation, what's a girl to do?

Go to Carrefour, bien sur!

Ahh, France. I already miss thee.