Eurotrip 2016 – Part 6 – Bruges, BelgiumPosted by brose
Before you even think it – yes, it’s Tuesday, and yes this must be Belgium. It’s a fairy-tale town, not sure who came up with that first, perhaps the 2008 film. If you haven’t seen it, go now and watch, I can wait.
We checked into our hotel, Hotel Ter Brughe. Assigned room number 13, I carried our bags up the stairs for there is no elevator. Pack light! The view from the room was top-notch.
We walked towards Da Halve Maan brewery, one of the more famous here, with a half-moon man logo. We tried all their beers, from single to quadruple. We couldn’t find one we didn’t like, especially at the end of the spectrum where things got darker, to Cait’s liking.
The brewery closed at 6pm so we stopped by a nearby eatery that served the only thing I ever wanted to eat again – fondue.
We sauntered back to our hotel room and passed out, stomachs full of beer and cheese.
We woke up to a rain downpour, and the latest news, “Clinton concedes”. The view on the USA election in Belgium was quite bleak. People here knew this election would in some significant way affect them. But, more on that in a short bit.
For our first full day here, Cait woke up and took a shower, easy for her given her height, but shortly it was my turn. It’s a tub, with the spigot on the wide backwall, which had the option for a handheld wand. The wand’s hose was about 3 feet long. So for the next few days I have been washing my head and face while sitting down in the tub, generating a puddle of water on the bathroom floor.
We decided to make our way via the rail station to Brussels. The tickets are pricey – almost 60 Euros for 2 adult visit/return passes. By a little before noon, we made it there, ready to explore. We started with lunch at Le Marmiton, myself having a “Heart of Beef” filet (tenderloin), and Cait having “Beef Carbonnade” basically Beef Stew cooked in local beer. The dialog for us now changed significantly, we could pretend to an extent that we were French (and we came up with a Canadian backstory – living in Toronto, Cait works for Canadian national healthcare and I am a Zamboni repairman, even though my hands are far too slender), but we know nothing of Dutch.
And of course, Canadians we are not. We faced many stares from the locals. Brussels is widely viewed as the unofficial capital of the EU. To a larger extent, people here embrace internationalism, and seeing Trump elected flew in the face of many of their beliefs. Of course, it is happening all over here, too. See Brexit, or the rise of Marie Le Penn corresponding with a rise in Syrian refugees. Indeed, the streets of Paris earlier on the trip were full of families huddled together under a plastic sheet, trying to keep warm and dry and escape the lives they left behind.
But like our lives, we can’t let a little shocking news derail plans – on with the journey! We walked around and eventually hit The Delirium, where we stopped in for a couple beers. Cait had a modest one, while I went for a 1 liter das boot.
^ Maybe not fully modest, but my choice here was still an exercise in modesty – they did also offer a 2-liter das boot which I resisted, wanting to not die today.
This wasn’t the correct place, though, and two people at the bar were far too inebriated and yelling back and forth about Trump. We departed for right next door, the Delirium Cafe, which is the Guinness Book record holder with over 3500 beers available to choose from. The beer list has an index and table of contents, it is the length of novel. They had a house tripel I enjoyed, and Cait had a cookie beer followed up by a cherry beer. The walls starting to move on us a bit, we needed to get some food in our stomachs. We ended up at Le Selecto for dinner where we quickly destroyed two of the same creamy chicken dish they had. The food was excellent, and perhaps by now the Trump news fervor died down or else we had enough alcohol to not care, the stares from the others around us became less pronounced.
We walked back to the train station, admiring the views on the way before we boarded.
We woke up to nicer skies and decided to stay in Bruges today instead of traveling regionally. We walked towards the Market and past many lovely churches and homes.
^ This place contained one of the few Michelangelo sculptures outside of Italy.
Back towards Market, there was a tower to climb with an impressive view atop!
The climb is not a joke, it’s pretty tight and steep at points, with 2-way traffic. But it doesn’t take too long, and soon you’re up in the tower with all of the impressive bell mechanics.
One of the bells up here, their largest, weighs in at 11,000 pounds.
Back down, time for lunch at Cafedraal. Cait was looking at the pheasant, but they were all out, so we both ended up with the specials of the day, pumpkin soup perfect for dipping fresh bread, and two plates of meatballs in a tomato sauce that went perfectly with their mashed potatoes.
On to try more of the beers from Belgium! We searched for a place named De Garre, famous for a house tripel with 11% ABV. It was a bit of an elusive one, tucked away in an alley, but along the way you’ll pass several chocolate shops and they’re worth stopping into – many give away free samples at the door!
Finally we found it, they don’t give you a whole lot of the tripel at once, but the quantity they do give really packs a punch. Delicious, too!
While I worked on some refills of that tasty beer, Cait tried their recommended sour beer. Crisp and refreshing, it goes down easy!
We walked around somewhat aimlessly for a while until it was time for dinner at ‘t Brugs Beertje. We went simple, with a couple of ham & cheese sandwiches, time to get to bed as we have an early tomorrow dragging luggage to another country.
Up early once more for a travel day, we dragged our bags across Bruges to the station. And I do mean dragged our bags, Cait somehow recently lost a wheel on her luggage so she’s been rolling mine as I drag hers along. This in turn made me subconsciously miss our cat at home, the unwilling dragging behind being quite similar to her attitude towards walks on her harness. Our train arrived and we boarded to Amsterdam via Antwerp – and woohoo, another Thalys with an included lunch!