Mon Weekend dans Belgique

July 21, 2008 at 6:19 AM | Posted in Travel | 1 Comment

I spent this past weekend in Bruges, Belgium with Dana and her cousin Jaimie. We had a fantastic time and it felt like much longer than two days. Bruges is vaguely like Venice in that it’s constructed around three canals, but it’s very small and picturesque–the architecture is beautiful, and most of the streets look straight out of a movie set or a storybook. When we got there, we wandered around for awhile and eventually we found an inexepensive bed and breakfast where the three of us could share one room. This was one of the strangest establishments I’ve ever stayed in, but at that point, it was a place to crash, which was exactly what we were looking for (we got 4 hours of sleep the night before and had caught an 8am train). It was completely filled with teddy bears on every available surface– including a grouping on a windowsill in the stairwell that was strapped in with a bungee cord–and the whole place looked like it had been painted solely with the remnants of assorted cans of paint (the extremely large, shared bathroom was four shades of purple and had three kinds of carpet).

We went out, walked around a bit, got lunch, and went back to the b&b in an exhausted daze, where we took a nice long nap with the teddy bears watching (it was raining outside anyway). After sleep and showers, we all felt much better, but coffee was highly necessary. We found a little cafe/hotel with outdoor seating on the edge of one of the canals, just outside the center of the city, and we sat right next to the canals and got cafe au laits (I took this picture from my seat at the table). We were expecting your average cups of coffee, and instead each of us got a china tray with a pot of cafe au lait, a little bowl of butter cookies, and a piece of Belgian chocolate. It turns out we had found one of the “leading small luxury hotels of the world,” and it lived up to its billing (for instance, it was sort of chilly, so we each got a soft blanket to wrap around ourselves). And it was 5 euros each…such a change from Paris!

We wandered around the center of the city for awhile, admiring the architecture, sampling chocolates from the many chocolatiers, and vaguely listening to a terrible public concert in the main square (Dana described the guy as a Flemish Neil Diamond). At this point, it was high time to sample the local brews (Belgium is famous for white beer, which I really like), so we found a bar in a youth hostel where we had a Bruges blond beer. Then we went to a square with lots of pubs and restaurants (in other words, great people watching–we saw a guy in a tux shirt and tails, shiny patent leather shoes, and no pants to speak of except his white underwear) where we could sit outside under heat lamps–it was really cold out. Dana and I ordered medium Hoegaardens, which were so big that my hands couldn’t fit around the glass. We got some dinner, toasted my birthday at midnight, and had a great rest of the evening.

The next morning, we went on a bike tour of the area around Bruges. It was really beautiful, and so nice to be on bikes. We saw a working windmill that uses the generated power to mill flour, and we could climb all the way up to the top of the windmill and see the mechanisms that make the windmill actually work. We rode along canals, stopped for Belgian waffles at a small restaurant, and saw some beautiful scenery.

When we got back, we went to a brewpub for lunch, where I got Flemish onion soup made with house-made beer, local cheese, and fresh bread. It was delicious (and beautiful). After browsing through the shops, we came back to Paris and watched the sunset from a cafe at the top of Montmartre. It was exactly the kind of birthday I wanted–just a really great day, with nothing overwhelmingly birthday-ish about it except that it was fun and relaxed.


1 Comment »

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  1. Happy Birthday Erika! Glad you’re getting to experience such an adventure – it sounds amazing 🙂

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