Monday, June 1, 2009

Whit Monday

In Europe, June 1, 2009 is Whit Monday, a holiday celebrated the day after Pentecost. It's a public holiday, so a large majority of stores are closed. The only stores that are open are in places that surround popular tourist destinations.

Today, my floormates and I would take the train to Knokke, a city on the Belgian coast lined with beaches. Our group consisted of 7 people, originating from France, Italy, Macedonia, Finland, and the US, so it was quite an eclectic mix of individuals. The train from Leuven to Knokke is approximately 2 hours. One thing we didn't realize on the train was that at a certain point, the train splits into two, one half heads in to one city and the other heads to a different city. Unfortunately we found ourselves on the wrong half of the train. We ended up being stuck in Bruges for an hour. Bruges itself, however, is a medieval city with much of its architecture still in tact. The architecture is purely stunning. There was actually a movie based in this city called In Bruges. It came out in 2008 and stars Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson. (

One hour in Bruges was all too brief. I'll definitely be making a full day trip to this city later in the coming months.

After getting on the train, we arrived in Knokke. It's a very touristy and posh area of Belgium. There are plenty of expensive condos with ferraris, porsches, bentleys, bmws, etc. lining the streets. The beach itself was not the prettiest that I have seen. The sand had a muddy hue and the water was far from crystal clear. It was a rather windy day in the high 60s, so it wasn't ideal swimming weather. We all relaxed and laid out on the beach for several hours. We had actually met some other Americans interning in Brussels, Belgium.

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