Walk Right In … Sit Right Down

I decided to go a-wanderin’ last night.  On the surface I was in search of another fine Belgian beer.  Down deep, I wanted to be with people and see if a conversation might emerge, most likely with someone whose first language wasn’t English.

I live on a street called the Oudburg – action central for cool restaurants and bars in Ghent.  Despite lots of tourists strolling the street, the Oudburg feels genuine.  But it was time to roam more widely.  A café (i.e. pub) called Minor Swing wasn’t far away and previous glimpses in the windows were enticing.  So here I go!

It’s really old.  It’s really small.  And it’s packed with couples and friends and families.  There was even a girl of perhaps six years wearing a frilly layered dress.  She enjoyed her juice while mom and dad went for stronger stuff.  I wasn’t used to seeing a kid in a bar but I smiled at how inclusive Belgium feels.

The Flemish words were rolling from wall to wall – music to me.  So many eyes were wide.  So many hands were sweeping through the air.  Minor Swing was alive.  I smile some more.  Even though language lessons haven’t become part of my life, I feel at home here.

I hope you love the photo.  A violinist and guitarist poked their heads in the door and walked to the bar.  There were sweet melodies that I didn’t recognize, plus flurries of notes accompanied by flying fingers on the strings.  The buzz, the music and everyone close together felt so natural.  I do believe I’m in Europe.

My favourite folks in the café were two old fellows sitting at the bar.  You see one of them on the left.  The other guy had a very long and white beard.  Maybe he was a poet.  For over an hour their voices rose and fell, and fingers told stories – none of which I could understand. 

The place was so full and people kept coming in the front door and passing through a doorway to the right of the bar.  Perhaps Minor Swing isn’t so small after all.

Eventually I approached the bar to pay my bill.  The bartender seemed to be fixing six drinks at once and I was in no hurry.  A guy spoke to me in English and then translated for his Flemish friend.  “Canada!”  Our eyes met in mirth even though the vocabulary was unknown to the other.  All was well.  And I know that all will continue to be well.

8 thoughts on “Walk Right In … Sit Right Down

  1. wow you are living the length and width of your awesome new life! so intriguing. your finds are amazing. thanks for sharing, that photo totally makes me want to pack up stuff and move! thank you so much for sharing your journey and adventures!

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