Arriving at the destination, reaching the goal, regardless of the journey, always fills you up with that unspoken sensation which consumes your whole body and mind with numerous possibilities now reachable, just around the corner, really. Then we rang the bell…
We were greeted by a bunch of people, cheering and laughing, gathered around a football game on tv, apparentelly just waiting for us to arrive. Next stop, a birthday party next door. We had just enough time to put our bags to our room and we were off. Mingling through a construction site, when someone puts a glass of premium beer in your hand, food is being handed around, people are chatting and laughing, it’s no picnic, I tell you. At one point I found myself sitting outside, smoking and looking in at all those people, whose names I had already forgotten but still feeling close to them. I don’t know what it is about genuine laughter but it restores my faith in humanity. I don’t think anyone can laugh out loud and have malicious thought at the same time.
The next day was all about preparations for the big day. The big idea behind the event was simple. One of the exange students was so impressed about the vast number of pubs, bars and clubs and just drunk enough to accept the challenge of visiting them all before moving back. I doubt that even he could predict that close to forty people would attend the third Barathon, following him and his plastic sword we brought for him. And very few of them drove so far to be part of it. Even though this was a drinking spree disguised as a seight-seeing tour around this lovely old University town, it was quite educational. Who knew that after a number of beers what pleases a person the most is a Belgian speciality called Frituur where you can get everything and everything is fried with a bundle of lovely sauces on the side. Bicky burger is a must for anyone crossing the Belgian border, trust me on that, and if you can splash it down with some Stella, Hoegarden or any other beer from an impressive selection, count your blessings and enjoy. Beer in this country comes in many different sizes, types and colors, much like people, gathered in one spot from all sides of the sky. And from time to time you get to enjoy a boutique version, poured into champaign glasses and experiencing how it travels around in your head. We have visited many pubs that day, memorizing them was too big of a task, having a small beer in each of them. Soon we discovered that the plastic sword was a stroke of brilliance, since it was getting harder and harder to identify the people from our group. “Nice to meet you, stranger, one of the many strangers I’m seeing today for the first time. This is a plastic pirate sword for you.. oh, don’t mention it, you’re welcome.. I just want to make sure to be able to spot you in crowd even if I don’t remember your face surrownded by other strangers.” It just might have been that plastic swords merit that we wnet from strangers to friends. Not getting lost, drunk in a strange city, helped as well. There is a small square in Leuven with bars neck to neck all around it where everyone usually ends up and so did we.
…to be continued