I neglected to post photos from Ghent and Brussels, so making up for that now.
I'm back in Burbank, with 16 new boxes of comics and and piles of Belgian chocolate everywhere.
I was perusing listings of the various exhibits at museums in Brussels when I spotted this—a Daniel Johnston piece on display!
I rushed over to MIMA—after first taking the wrong tram—but that exhibit had come down recently. The gift shop clerk showed me the exhibit book, the best he could do.
I went in a Tintin store and note it’s mostly sanitized. That said, nothing they could sell is as startling as the Tintin carvings I bought from actual Congolese artists in Congo.
I was completely confused by the morality of that which we consider racist but the carver just considered a carving based on a book.
Twelve years later, I still don’t know what to think.
I spent all Monday in Bruges. I walked a lot--foot is getting better but still hurts. Nothing like it used to. Physical therapy and a night splint help.
I took a canal tour by boat, went to a museum of chocolate (all the chocolate you can eat but no carrying it out), a museum of fries, and traipsed all over town.
Fortunately, Bruges isn't all that large.
I took a train to a train to another train to get from Luxembourg to Bruges, where I dragged my wheelie bag over cobblestones to get to a lovely attic room in a hotel on the outskirts of the historic center.
Naturally, as soon as I arrived, I spotted a much smoother route from the train station. I checked in, unzipped my bag to grab my umbrella, and hurried out to see as much as I could of the town ahead of the impending storm.
The rain caught me, but the umbrella did its job well enough, and I was able to enjoy Bruges by moonlight, in the rain. I even got a waffle.
Did you know there’s a difference between types of waffles? This is a Liege waffel, I’m told.
For our next stop on Marie's Very Brief Tour of Belgium and Friends, I flew from Heathrow to Luxembourg City for a day of sightseeing. As I'd just told Peter Moore on Saturday, "I'm unlikely to get to Luxembourg by accident, so I thought I'd better make it intentional."
That probably made more sense to Peter, who is a travel writer and podcaster who I think has visited more countries and written more travel books than I have. But for context, the way we both travel ideally involves a route over several countries in a region, or possibly the world, and so there are times we just kind of end up somewhere we never considered visiting on its own.
Luxembourg. What are the odds?
Yesterday morning, I took a space pod from the Thistle Hotel to Heathrow Terminal 5!
Okay, maybe not a space pod, though there was a time we might have called it a space pod or tomorrow pod. It was more like a personal monorail gizmo that operates on demand.
The public bus is way cheaper than a pod, but I was due to the airport at 6 a.m., so I was pleased for the easy option, though the regular buses are pretty easy in the UK.
Terminal 5 opened in 2008, and back in early 2005, Herr Marlboro and I visited the outskirts of the construction site on his XT Tenere. A pod was a much safer, warmer option.
I took the long way to a Belgium comic book convention, stopped over a day in London to see some very specific and temporary sights with my old pal Peter Moore.
We had a grand day, though we both agreed we hit saturation after a few hours of the crowds, so we left Green Park to go get some dim sum.
This popped up on my sister's wall (that's her on the right) as a "this used to be on your mother's wall and you were tagged" (she took the photo). It's from I'm going to guess 1990 or 1991? I've been 1) going to Liberty State Park for an awfully long time and 2) I still have that Daniel Johnston shirt.
Checking in on Charlie the Rescue Beagle on my mom's wall...he's as timid as he is cute.
My sister and I both want to go there, scoop him up, and coo at him, but rescue beagles who lived in traumatic situations need careful introduction to their new environments. Loud noises and eager people can be scary to little dogs who have survived so far by lying low.
Charlie is just now learning about the outside world, grass and dirt, and the possibility of eating from his own bowl.
I was waiting at the bus stop on Van Ness and Eddy, having utilized an app to store my luggage at a convenience store after checking out of an AirBnB in the Mission. My iPad was downloading the National Park Service regional guide as I kept an eye on the time. I was there to catch the Marin County #130 bus to Sausalito, where I’d board the Muir Woods shuttle. I’d come to San Francisco to escape the Labor Day weekend heat for somewhere I could be outside to enjoy the last gasp of summer.
“Excuse me,” mumbled an old man as he reached for a button near me. He pushed it, and a robotic voice announced all the upcoming bus arrivals.
The old man had Santa hair and beard, one drooping eyelid, a grizzled face, and short fingers. His hands were filthy, under his nails blackened with dirt. I caught a whiff of unwashed clothing, but not too bad. He might be unhoused, I thought, but not unclean. Perhaps he was a laborer past his days of useful work, or maybe an old hippy down on his luck.
He wandered away for a minute, then returned to push the button again.
“It’s hard to remember,” he said. I nodded, and he sat down a few seats away from where I was reading the Muir Woods chapter.
There was a dog on the bus.
A large black dog, sprawled across the aisle on a packed rush-hour bus in the Mission. On Thursday night, I’d fled the heat of LA for the temperate comfort of the Bay Area.
“He has beautiful blue eyes,” said a passenger.
No one added “And he’s lying in the way, sir. Can your dog scootch over so people don’t trip over your black-haired blue-eyed dog?”
I thought about suggesting the dog was wearing blue contacts, but I said nothing.
As I pulled the wire to signal the driver to stop, I glanced at the dog’s person.He was staring at me intently. He had a single blue vertical line tattooed down the center of his nose. I started wondering about gangs in San Francisco. I carefully stepped around the dog’s tail, feeling like the dog owner had seen I’d taken notes on his dog. I hurried off the bus and disappeared into the crowd of Market Street.