Day 5: Bruges Belgium

Brugge Travel Blog

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waterfront scene, riverbank

Our journey today required an early morning start. We headed to Gare de Nord, by now a familiar place (one of the main train stations, we came in here from the airport, and passed in/out of here for London and Versailles).  It was easy to find our train bound for Brussels and we boarded with no incidents and slept most of the way there. It was a dreary cloudy day.

 

Once we got to Brussels, we purchased tickets for the regional train to Bruges and walked over to the other side of the terminal to find our platform.  Let me repeat that I really don't understand this nonsense the Europeans have for not having doors to their train platforms! All the cold winter air comes right into the main train station leaving it freezing.

Jenni and Tracy toast in the lace shop
We did have some minor excitement boarding the Bruges train- there really are no enforced assigned seats so the conductor told us to just find a seat anywhere in coach class. Of which of course there seemed to be none on our end of the train. We had to pass through several train cars, including a first class car to finally find one with seats available. As we moved to our seats I realized Valerie was missing. Missing! She can get lost easily in a crowd so I worried and got right back up and went to look for her. I must have searched every coach car twice to no avail. Would she remember to get off at Bruges (the train continued on to Amsterdam!)? While the others slept I panicked the whole way (with small interruptions to admire the Belgium countryside). At every stop between Brussels and Bruges I got off the train to make sure Valerie had not gotten off by mistake. Finally at Bruges, we all got off and I spotted Valerie search the platform for us.
More views of the beautiful canals
Turns out she was inadvertently sitting in the FIRST CLASS car the whole time. When we passed through it, she just sat down instead.

 

My point in setting our itinerary to highlight Bruges AND Brussels was to afford us the opportunity to get to know both the Flemish and French cultures of Belgium. Bruges is a beautiful medieval city, with many of the buildings from that era still intact. It is known as the Venice of Belgium as it has the lovely canal system its Italian counterpart is known for. In addition, Bruges is regarded worldwide for its lace and chocolate crafting. Of course we had to purchase a bit of both while we were there! In one cozy lace shop where I found a beautiful tablecloth with matching napkins and bread holder, the owner was overwhelmingly friendly and broke out the strongest liquor I've ever tasted.

Michelangelo's Madonna and Child
  The concoction was homemade and akin to paint varnish but we didn't want to be rude and so we had a sip. Except for Valerie who tossed back the entire shot and promptly puked on the sidewalk out front.

 

Aside from the shopping, we enjoyed a fantastic lunch downtown - Flemish Stew. Very rich, it was probably a mistake for Jonathan to consume it. He *had* been feeling better and up to moving about and eating after his tummy troubles the day before but the stew did him in and he spent the rest of the day a bit queasy again. Before leaving Bruges, we walked many of the city streets, visited a church that was the recipient of a famous gift (the only statue Michelangelo ever sent out of his own country during his lifetime rests here), and munched on a Belgium waffle from a street vendor. I had also wanted to visit the Basilica of the Blood (has a vial with Christ's blood passed down through the centuries allegedly) but we could never find the church.

 


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waterfront scene, riverbank
waterfront scene, riverbank
Jenni and Tracy toast in the lace …
Jenni and Tracy toast in the lace…
More views of the beautiful canals
More views of the beautiful canals
Michelangelos Madonna and Child
Michelangelo's Madonna and Child
Bike Crossing light in Bruges
Bike Crossing light in Bruges
Canal
Canal
More views of the beautiful canals
More views of the beautiful canals
More views of the beautiful canals
More views of the beautiful canals
Guesthouse as you enter Bruges
Guesthouse as you enter Bruges
Statue Adorning rooftops
Statue Adorning rooftops
The Church of Our Lady
The Church of Our Lady
The Church of Our Lady
The Church of Our Lady
Desc of Madonna and Child
Desc of Madonna and Child
The Church of Our Lady
The Church of Our Lady
The Church of Our Lady
The Church of Our Lady
tallest church spire in Europe
tallest church spire in Europe
decorative passageway
decorative passageway
city streets
city streets
city streets
city streets
Jenni and Tracy being silly in Bru…
Jenni and Tracy being silly in Br…
Brugge
photo by: Chokk