From Brugges, with love

Trip Start Aug 31, 2009
Trip End Jan 08, 2010

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Flag of Belgium  , West Flanders,
Friday, October 9, 2009

Hello faithful readers.  We arrived home early Monday morning from a long weekend in Belgium, and it was one of our very favorites yet.  We left very early Thursday morning after a late night at the Green Day concert here in Berlin and boarded a train bound for Belgium with a brief stop in Cologne or Köln, as ze Germans spell it.  Right outside the train station was the famous Cathedral or Dom, and it was one of the most impressive pieces of architecture I have seen since being here.  I'm wishing now that we had ventured inside, but our time there was very short.  We will just have to travel there again in the future.               

After leaving Cologne we arrived in Brussels, Belgium and took the subway to the area of town where our bed and breakfast was located.  After a little confusion, due to an absence of any sort of sign or marking of the building, we found the B and B and we’re shown to our room by a kindly elder gentleman that spoke very poor English.  The King’s room, as it was called was quite a nice place with a large bed, decorative chandeliers and a top notch bathroom with an awesome shower.  It’s been the nicest room we’ve had of yet and we’ve decided that B and B’s are the way to go in Europe, because they cost about the same, or less than hotels and are usually very clean and cozy and include top notch breakfasts.  After settling in we took a walk to a tapas restaurant that we had read about on Fodor’s.  The Restaurant was called Como Como and involved sitting at a bar stool type counter as a conveyor belt continually moved little covered plates of food around the restaurant.  Each color of plate signified a meat dish, veggie, Garlic, dessert, etc. and you simply grabbed the plates you liked and at the end they add up your dishes to total the bill.  At first, we got a little grab happy and chose a few dishes that weren’t spectacular, but towards the end we were a little more selective and had some very good plates.  The next day we got up a bit late and had a wonderful Belgian style breakfast of fruit, yogurt, meats and cheeses and lots of bread/pastries accompanied by an assortment of chocolate and fruit spreads.  It is true; the Belgians eat chocolate at every meal.  Then we jumped on the train to head for Bruges.

Bruges is an incredible town and is the picture of what I expected all of Europe to look like.  All the buildings are old and detailed and the streets are very narrow and everything is made of stones.  It was absolutely beautiful.  The B and B we stayed at here was not as posh as the one in Brussels, but  a very nice family ran it and the grandmother got us checked in and proceeded to show us the entire house and all the paintings done by her daughter and late husband.  It was very personal and more than made up for the communal toilets shared by the three guest rooms.  After settling in, we took a walk to find a restaurant.  We found a very nice place that did traditional French fondue, and we had our first taste of true Trappist (brewed by monks) Belgian beer.  It was all delightful. 

After a little venture around the Grote Markt we started back to the inn and were about half way back when we were caught in an absolute downpour.  Just as it was getting too much to bare and we could barely see in front of us we ducked into an open doorway and found ourselves in the foyer of a monastery.  After a while a monk came out and spoke with us and told us a truck would be coming in a little while that would give us a lift back to our inn.  This was all said in broken English of course, so we weren’t all together sure what was going on.  After a short while the rain let up a bit and we took this opportunity to make a dash back.

                In the morning, we again had a traditional style Belgian breakfast with all the fixings, but disappointingly no waffles.  Which we discovered are more of a dessert item than breakfast.  After breakfast we made our way back to the center of town where the government building is alongside the provincial courthouse and the large Belfry tower.  Inside part of the tower was a Salvador Dali expo that we went and saw.  It was very interesting and gave us a new perspective of Dali.  Afterwards, we simply wandered the streets and stopped in a t all the chocolate shops that caught Christine’s eye.  Then we went to a small beer garden that had some very good and cheap beers on tap and then went yet again, to more chocolate shops.  It seemed that there was one about every twenty feet or so and after not long I had had enough.  So then we went to the Havle Mann Brewery and had a few of the famous Belgian beers.  All in all, it was a great day and we had seen so much, and ate so much chocolate, but only seen a small portion of the city.  We are determined to go back again and continue exploring. 

                After a lazy night at the Inn and another wonderful breakfast, we shouldered our packs and took another jaunt through the city.  We decided to burn a little more time at the brewery and after a couple beers got back to the train and started to head home.  Unfortunately, those last beers caused us to miss the early trains to Germany and that is why we got back to Berlin so late.  But there are worse places to be stranded than in Belgium.

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