While in Belgium, we took an overnight trip to Bruges. N had been a few years earlier, but all I knew of the city was from watching In Bruges. I was prepared for a tall bell tower, canals, and not much else.
But first, a stop for waffles before boarding the train in the exquisite Station Antwerpen-Centraal:
Two hours of knitting and map-consultation later, we were in Bruges. We checked into our remarkably compact and functional (though lacking in privacy: the bathroom was essentially a closet) hotel, and made our way into the city.
Bruges was much smaller than I imagined, with only 20,000 people living in the historic city center – and something like 200+ bed and breakfasts, so as our map informed us, on busy days, there are often more tourists than locals around. But what it lacked in size, it made up for in crazy beautiful scenery, including a few hours of some of the best weather of our entire trip.
First stop: lunch at Herberg Vlissinghe, the oldest pub in Bruges, functioning since 1515. We snuck scraps to the tiny dog and then felt bad for doing so when we saw signs expressly forbidding it.
And then a long walk to see WINDMILLS.
Can I tell you how much I love windmills?
We spent the rest of the first day wandering around as I developed an increasingly intense headache, which is evident on my face in some of N’s otherwise lovely photos.
We had dinner at Gran Kaffee De Passage, where we enjoyed authentic and very delicious Belgian food, and where I had one of the first strong food aversions of my pregnancy – to my first taste of Advocaat. It’s noteworthy that the only other strong food aversion was also in Bruges – to the smell of mussels, which I normally love.
We took a short walk through the beautiful grounds adjacent to the Begijnhof De Wijngaard, then it was back to our hotel for the night.
After a frustrating experience with hotel reception, we decided to skip the included breakfast and instead had a surprisingly good meal at a coffee shop adjacent to the train station: coffee (with cookies AND Speculaas), croissants with jam and Nutella, pistolets with ham and cheese, and tiny crocks of yogurt.
The brilliant weather from our first day didn’t hold, alas, so our second day of exploring was in more characteristic Belgium weather – overcast and drizzling rain, not unlike Seattle most of the year. We headed back to the Begijnhof De Wijngaard, a 13th century monastery that is now home to Benedictine sisters. The grounds were peaceful and beautiful in the light rain.
The rest of the day was spent dodging the rain, walking too far for an overpriced lunch, and hunting down souvenirs, and kissing a frog:
Our last stop on our way out of town was for €10 worth of marzipan. I’m not even joking.