Belgium, take 2

Trip Start Nov 02, 2010
Trip End Jan 15, 2011

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Where I stayed
Stayed with some friends near Brussels

Flag of Belgium  , West Flanders,
Saturday, December 11, 2010

This weekend we met some friends of Mike's at their house near Brussels, Belgium.  We've already been to Brussels (and didn't love it), but I can't tell you how great it was to sleep in a home and have someone cook food for us...we're getting pretty tired of hotels and restaurants.  I didn't think that was possible, but it is - trust me.  I can't wait to be able to go to my refrigerator in my kitchen and get food out and eat it on my couch watching my TV.  I have always been so jealous of Mike getting to travel and stay in hotels, eating out all the time.  Now I understand why he doesn't want to leave our house when he comes home.  But, back to Belgium...

Our friends were busy on Saturday, so we drove to the coast of Belgium.  We hadn't seen the English Channel before, so we thought we'd give it a look while we were close.  It was incredibly cold (duh) and I can't imagine anyone swimming across it.  From there we drove a bit to Brugges.  This is where we should have spent every second in Belgium!  It is so beautiful, the chocolates and waffles are on every street corner - I just can't say enough good things about this place.  We were really upset that we only had half a day to spend there.  Of course we hit their Christmas Market, ate some amazing food, and did a quick bus tour to see the sights before it got dark.

Brugge is a walled, canal city built around the 1st Century BC.  As the canals gradually silted, the city lost access to the sea.  After several tries at reviving their economy, Brugge sank into poverty in the early 1800's.  It wasn't until the end of the 19th century that it became a tourist destination for the British and French tourists.  It seems to us that the key to being a great tourist destination now was to have become impoverished right as the rest of your country is progressing and modernizing.  Because they could not afford to rebuild or remodel, the medieval architecture is still mostly intact and the center of town in a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Belgium is the hardest place to get around in that we have visited.  The always polite and well mannered Belgians turn into blood crazed freaks when it comes to driving - or biking or walking, for that matter.  You'll notice a picture on here of a man in a motorized wheel chair in front of our car.  He totally cut us off and then drove down the middle of the street for 8 blocks!  The people on bikes sped by us so close that they were setting our sensor alarms (that are supposed to help you not hit something when you're parking) off on the front and back!  Pedestrians just step out whenever and wherever they feel like it and they have this strange rule that anyone entering traffic from the right has the right of way!  Most of the cars have giant dents and scratches on the left scary.  The Belgians claim that they are better drivers because of all of this....Enter the streets at your own risk!
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