Today we visited Brugge, home of lace and yet more Belgian beer. On our last trip and it was one of our favourite places. Unfortunately it is extremely popular and especially on a Sunday!
It was a one hour train trip through beautiful countryside and some not so nice industrial areas.
Brugge is just gorgeous from the moment you step off the train (well after you walk over the dual carriage way and get to the canals).
Like all medieval towns it was once a walled city and some of the city gates remained. We walked past these as we followed the outer canal.
We then headed toward the old city centre and came across the park from the In Brugge movie where Colin Farrell was going to shoot himself. We walked on towards the Grand Platz and along one canal where a house bay window hangs over the canal and the same dog as appeared in the movie was asleep in the open window!
We then headed to the oldest bar to have a drink and some lunch. We ate in a lovely walled courtyard. The weather had suddenly become so hot (20+) that I ended up in a singlet top after days of wearing a heavy coat (which spent the day tied around my waist…)
We saw the bell tower from the movie but it looked much taller in real life. We were going to climb it but it was fairly busy. We sat in the courtyard and ate frites instead…
I scoured the tourist lace shops looking for lace gifts and tapestry cushions. Tapestry is also very big in Belgium.
Brugge has its own version of the Grand Platz, Brugges Markt, which was sadly filled with a modern day carnival – very out of place. The old surrounding buildings however, are charming and a new info centre had opened off the Markt which had a very conveniently located upper floor bar with a balcony overlooking the Markt which no one seemed to know about yet. Great views!
Hubby and friend sampled several beers throughout the day, including some at the Wall of Beers bar where hundreds of beers are displayed with their matching glasses. The live gold fish swimming around the hand basin surrounds in the toilets were also intriguing!
We rounded off the trip with a visit to the house of a vampire. The house is only open on Sundays after 6pm. The instructions are to knock on the door and he will answer if he wants to. My knees were quivering slightly but we were committed so we knocked. The guy who answered the door was formally dressed but had no visible signs of pointy teeth or drips of blood on the floor. The deal seemed to be that we could look around the house and then have a drink at the bar for 6 euros. He then locked the front door and pocketed the key!!
The house was crammed with painting and curios – some erotic… It was an old Freemason’s lodge and seems to now be used for many private social functions, the nature of which I didn’t want to think about too deeply.
There was a coffin in one room with a gruesome mask on top which our friend just had to wear for a photo. I really didn’t need to go that close to the coffin… I was terrified that something was going to jump out whether it be real or a joke!
The whole house was freezing cold even though the weather outside was balmy.
We then re-joined our host in one of the numerous bars and he urged us to see his garden which was apparently a grave yard. Lots of junk, ‘artworks’ and some crosses but no visible graves (which is probably worse than being able to see them).
We went back inside and were relieved to see that there was still another couple inside the bar. We would have liked to cut and run without the drink but that did not seem the done thing. Cocktails were the only option which was a bit concerning but I sipped some of my Pina Colada. Luckily our verbose host was busily chatting with the other couple and we could finally escape. He thanked us for contributing towards the restoration of his house, produced the key from his pocket and finally let us out. Not an experience that I need to repeat but unique!
We then walked back to the train through even prettier buildings and canals. The sun was lower and the light was just gorgeous. We took heaps of photos.
The train trip home was late and the train was suffocatingly hot (I think that the surprise warm weather caught them off guard). The worst bit was the poor shrieking baby – for nearly the whole trip!
Another moderate day of walking at about 10km – I’ve decided by now that my pedometer is either broken or extremely sensitive to where it is worn!