In Brugge

Trip Start Apr 04, 2007
Trip End Oct 22, 2007

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Flag of Belgium  , West Flanders,
Sunday, October 14, 2007

Alright, call us jaded, but we were decidedly underwhelmed by this much-hyped 'beautiful, historic city'. We were sorry to leave Ypres this morning on a beautiful sunny day with a bustling local market just starting up around the Cloth Hall and so much more to see, but we had tickets for the early morning train to Brugge.

Unfortunately for us, tickets were about as far ahead as we had planned, and we were extra sorry that we had left Ypres when we got to Brugge, only to discover that as well as being crowded, touristy and extremely expensive, there was almost no accomodation to be had anywhere in the city. To give Brugge it's due, it is a lovely town with stunning historic architecture and picture-postcard canals winding through the streets - but to be honest, I think next time we'll just buy the postcard and save ourselves the trip! The helpful people at the Tourist Info Centre eventually found us a two-star hotel with a clean but TINY room and a filthy communal bathroom. Since it was only available one night, we decided to make the most of our day in Brugge and stowed our bags before heading off into town.

If you could ignore the hordes of middle-aged tourists trotting around after flag-waving tour guides, the town was in fact quite beautiful in the late autumn afternoon light, cobbled streets lined with tiny chocolatier shops led to ornate cathedrals or huge, flag-bedecked public squares. In the imaginatively named Main Square, we wandered by accident into the elaborately painted medieval wooden Cathedral of the Holy Blood. The sound of money clinking into a box echoed inside as a steady line of tourists queued up to pray over the reliquary inside which was a scrap of cloth supposedly stained with Christ's blood. We were skeptical, to say the least.

We carried on in search of an internet cafe and eventually found one run by a blonde, Belgian Muslim woman with a table full of cakes, cookies and treats that we were invited to help ourselves to in celebration of the end of Ramadan, the month of fasting. The cake definitely helped console us when we got stuck trying to find accomodation in Brussels for the following night - who knew mid-October was such a busy tourist season??!

We walked back into town and consoled ourselves further by stopping at a local pub which boasted 100 different kinds of beer - our new favourite is the Hoegaarden Rose, a Belgian-made white beer flavoured with raspberry.

A fantastic buffet breakfast in the hotel the next morning did slightly redeem our faith in both the hotel and the city (slightly!) but we are both getting a little weary of hostel living, and are hoping we can find something a bit better in Brussels, our next stop!

All our best from Belgium,

Dan and Gabes
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