22 January 2007
This weekend we went to Bruges, Belgium, with our friends the Beards and the Noris. Jill Beard basically planned out the whole trip for us (thanks, Jill!), and we stayed a great little hotel called Scandic Brugge just outside the City Centre. The windows in our room had a view of pasture full of sheep:
Andrew was coming straight from Amsterdam, so he arrived at the hotel well before the rest of us, who met at Waterloo station and too the Eurostar to Brussells. It was the first time I had ever been on the Eurostar, and I thought it was great, though I found it very difficult to walk on the train (and to keep my single-serving wine bottle upright)! We arrived in Bruges around 9:30ish, and Andrew had made us reservations at L'Assiette de Nuit Nachtrestaurant, which was open late. Andrew, Brad, and I got the "local" Flemmish stew, and it was wonderful.
When we finished, we walked back to the place where the taxi would pick us up and had a couple more drinks back in the hotel lobby.
Saturday and Sunday we didn't really have a plan; we just decided to play it by ear. We wandered around the city and saw everything we could, including the main cathedral in the square, which has a bell tower with a spiral staircase leading 366 stairs up into the Belgium air. We climbed all 366, and the view was gorgeous.
We took a bus tour around the city, partly so that we could get a feel for the city before getting lost in it, and partly because it was so cold and rainy! If it weren't for the bus tour, we never would have seen the windmills. Actually, Andrew never did, as he slept through that part!
We also went to the Choco-Story, the Chocolate Museum. The mission of the Chocolate Museum is "to make known the story of the transformation of cocoa into chocolate and to promote the health and quality aspects of Belgian chocolate." The museum tells you everything you'd ever want to know about chocolate: the historical, geographical, and botanical aspects of it. It was really interesting, and we got to be tasters at the end!
We stumbled into the Church of Our Lady, where Michelangelo's Madonna and Child sculpture is on display. The sculpture, made in 1504 out of Carrara marble, was the only one of Michelangelo's works to leave Italy in his lifetime and is today one of the few that can be seen outside Italy. It was bought by a Bruges merchant, Jan van Mouskroen, and donated to the church in 1506. In the church, we also saw a painting of the Crucifixion of Christ by Anthony van Dyck; a rococo extravaganza of a pulpit, designed by Bruges artist Jan Antoon Garemijn; and side-by-side bronze tomb sculptures of the Duke of Burgundy, Charles the Bold, who died in 1477, and his daughter, Mary of Burgundy, who died at age 25 after falling from her horse in 1482. Through a windowpane under the tombs we could see the 13th- and 14th-century graves of priests.
On Sunday afternoon, the sun finally came out (about 24 hours late, according to Rino's prediction), and I finally was able to talk everyone into taking the boat tour around the city. There are canals that run throughout the city, and we could see people taking the boat tours all weekend, but it was so cold and wet that I was the only one who really wanted to do it. So the sun was out; it was nice, and get on the boat. We had barely gotten away from the dock when the bottom dropped out. It was pouring down rain and continued throughout the entire tour. The boat provided large umbrellas for everyone; the problem was that whoever's umbrell was on the bottom, drenched everyone sitting nearby with the runoff. Most of us were soaked on some part of our bodies by the time the little cruise ended. I have to say, though, that the views from the boat were phenomenal (though they would have been better in sunshine!).
We ate fondu one night:
And what better way to enjoy Belgium than to eat Belgian Chocolate...
and to sample the Belgian beers...
We went to a little place that Beth found called the Brugs Beertje, which served a collection of nearly 500 bottled beers!
We also stopped into this adorable little teapot store, where I purchased one for my collection; it's shaped like a travelling trunk!
(Mr. Sam, the owner of the shop)
MORE PHOTOS OF BRUGES...
The smallest street in Bruges, where the prostitutes used to "hang out."
We got to be experts at taking group shots!
The Market Square:
There are horse-drawn carriages and cobblestone streets everywhere in Bruges.
We ended up having a fabulous time in Bruges, and when our trip was over, Andrew turned to me and said, "Say goodbye to Bruges, Kelly. We'll probably never be back again..."