10-4-08 Bruges, by Jodi
No alarm this morning, we decided to get up when we get up. But after flopping in bed early, of course we are up before 7am. So far no rain today, but vey cloudy skies. We descend the steep stairs to the dining room for breakfast. We chat with the nice couple from Vancouver Canada we met briefly yesterday. Their Son, Daughter-in-Law and Grandson Leo who live in nearby Rotterdam, Netherlands also soon followed to join them.
Kristin came into the room with fancy little bowls of yogurt with fruits artistically arranged. Terry ordered hot chocolate and me coffee. Kristin then asked who wanted an omelet, of course we all enthusiastically said, “Yes!” She brought out large baskets of wonderful breads, croissants & homemade jams and a platter of assorted meats and cheeses. Our table looked like it was prepared by a French chef – tiny beautiful flowers adorned all the trays, the food artistically arranged with sprigs of chives and greenery. It looked too good to eat. Then our heart shaped omelets arrived, made with onions, sweet peppers, cheese and herbs – warm and delicious! We all stuffed ourselves as we enjoyed the conversation breakfast was just perfect.
We venture outside for a full day of sightseeing, excited to see patches of blue sky after 4 days of rain. We just began wandering, following Rick Steve’s town walk. Bruges is so dang quaint and post card, picture perfect. Every corner of cobbled streets brought fantastic views of Dutch architecture and canals filled with boats. The squares bulge at the seams with cafes and restaurants. The horse carriages clipity-clop down the streets full of customers today and boat cruises sailed through the canals and under bridges filled with photo happy tourists. Patisseries and Belgium chocolatiers are numerous.
We stopped in one famous chocolatier named Damon and each picked out our own 16 piece assorted box – yummmmm. We continued walking all the streets, not wanting to miss a thing, sampling our melt in your mouth chocolates.
At lunch, we ducked into a small sandwich café and shared a baguette sandwich and fries. Breakfast was so filling; a shared lunch was just enough.
We headed toward the city walls to see the old windmill park that lines the moat canal just outside the walls. There are only four windmills left, some in need of some repair, but fun to see them up close. We entered back into the walls and strolled through the oldest neighborhood of what looked like, at one time, very exclusive homes that lined a very large canal. Many were undergoing renovations and restorations to return them to their original condition. Many had already been done and they were beautiful. Many of the homes had lighted corner niches with a praying saint, always facing the canal, giving the boaters a lighted safe journey up the canal. Long ago, this large canal was the inlet for sailors coming in from the North Sea, delivering goods to Brugges and towns further inland. Brugges was a large port city, completely walled around for safety.
We followed the large canal all the way back in to the original center of town and Main Square. I noticed a chocolatier across the street with large, spinning displays of chocolate, which sure got my attention. I pulled Terry and said I have to go into that shop. Whoa, glad we did, best chocolate shop we had seen so far, plus they had all kinds of other candy as well. We bought a few Belgium chocolate bars and some homemade truffles that were to die for. We made our way back to the room, carrying our prized chocolate booty like it was gold, LOL! By this time, it was 5:30 pm so we had walked Bruges all day in perfect weather. We waited for the Ganzespel restaurant across the street to open at 6:30, looking forward to our anticipated meal. The nice young waiter reserved the same window table for us and he told us the specials for tonight. We both got the local Flemish meal of roast beef, potatoes and carrots simmered all day in the local ZOT beer, with the same veggie soup starter – mmmmmm. We just loved this little restaurant, the food, atmosphere and proximity to the B&B, we just couldn’t beat it anywhere. Full bellies we will be content in bed again.
Terry – This has to be one of the quaintest cities we have visited during our travels in Europe and would definitely be a place, like Paris, we could keep coming back to enjoy the atmosphere.