Day 35: Brugge isn’t near the beach
I caught a rather normal time train out to Brugge (I’m choosing this spelling because it’s what used there, however, English is Bruges. It’s pronounced more like the Flemish spelling anyways). I believe I got on around 10:30, there at 12. Walked to my Hostel. Realized this was farther than I hoped to be walking frequently and had seen they did bike rentals, so I rented I bike. I had found a Brugge USE-IT map when I was in Brussels, and one of the things they listed was a bike to the beach. Which I decided I wanted to do because it was nice. The directions were a tad lacking, but luckily finding the beach wasn’t too hard. The unlucky part was that when I got there, it looked like an imminent storm. I really don’t know what imminent looks like around the world, but this would have been a storm in an hour at home, so I decided I should probably head back.
Turns out it was a good thing this wasn’t a storm, because I took my own sweet time getting home. I biked a bit farther than I would have liked in the process. I must have missed a sign, but oh well. It was probably 60km in total. Not all that horrible. Other than the bike not being quite set properly for me. It felt like my legs were rubbing on the seat a little, but I later realized they were rubbing on the nice metal part that holds the seat because the seat was pushed waaayyyyy too far back. I’ll probably be left with some nice scars from that forever. Luckily almost no one will see them.
I biked by the windmills along the edge of the town on my way back. Pretty cool. Some were blocked off, most weren’t.
My map had told me that a bar at another hostel hosted English language trivia on Wednesday nights, so I was planning to head there around 7 (no idea what time it would have started). But I had an hour to kill. So park and cider and my book it was. I got to see a barge go through the tiny canal bridge opening while I sat there. That was cool.
Headed to the bar, asked the bar tenders about this trivia (which thankfully by then I’d realized my map was 2 years old), and they told me that that’s not a thing. Oh well, I figured I’d grab a drink anyways. Seemed like good drink deals. And they had wifi (oh the little things).
This was a great choice as a bit later some guys sit down near me, later joined by a few American ladies and we end up chatting. We ended up discussing the Brugge bar crawl. This night they were heading to Gent for the festival I mentioned before. That sounded a bit too risky (trains do stop at some point) and I was tired. We all agreed that we should do the one the next night. It leaves at 8:45, so meeting time was set to 8 at the bar. Everyone sounded excited, but making plans like this is still such a weird thing to me. I headed home on my bike and hoped this was something I could do tomorrow.
Day 36: I’m the wrong age for Brugge
I’d heard of a free walking tour in Brugge from people I met in Amsterdam on the walking tour there. Looking up the tour, there were two options, one at 9:45 and one at 2:00. It was 9:35 when I looked this up at my hostel. I figured with my bike I could book it and only be a little late. Luckily this turned out to be true, I got there around 9:50 and the guide was still there. This was a guy who decided at the beginning of summer that there seemed to be no Brugge tours, and he’d been a history guy, and grew up in Brugge, and he decided to do tours. This was my first tour not done by New Sandemans, so if you’re ever in Brugge, check out the Legends of Brugge tour (or his Trip Advisor Page). <<<Side note: these might try to send you to the page from France. Oops. That’s where I am and it’s a too much work to look up the correct USA links right now. Maybe I’ll correct it in the future>>>
We learned some good bits about the town and the history. And of course you see the best sites of the town. I was oddly fascinated by the swans. The legend is that Brugge has to keep long neck swans in their canals for eternity for killing someone with the last name “Longneck” when they were trying to not be under the darn Hapsburg control. The result when the eventually lost was that they had to get rid of their city walls and keep the swans.
At the end of the tour you get to go try some chocolates at a chocolate shop, and a local beer at one of the restaurants. Pretty sweet deal.
After this I headed to the old time museum, which was to show how people lived in the past. Well, that was a disappointment. It was nothing I hadn’t seen before and wasn’t that great of a museum display. Bummer. The shoe maker display was probably the most interesting part.
After this I headed over to the Jerusalem Church which according to my old map was where you got tickets for the lace center, which was really what I was interested in. As long as I can remember my grandmother had a half done lace in her house. I’m not sure she ever actually did any work on it while I was alive, but I’d seen it forever. I found out from my mom that she’d learned to do bobbin lace in Brugge when my grandparents lived in Brussels. So I had to go.
The Lace Center is now a separate entrance. They have a bit on the history of lace and why no one makes it by hand any more. They also had an electronic demonstration where you could try your hand at lace making. You weren’t actually following a pattern but it taught you the different movements required to make lace.
They also had a demonstration center where people were making lace. Essentially it was a giant classroom where they could work on their lace, which someone who clearly seemed to be ahead of everyone else and would help them out when they got stuck. Now lace is made with all sorts of colors and fancy strings, and done by people who have the time and desire to learn. It used to be made by the lowest of low class women as a way to earn extra income while they were home, and paid very, very little. It is super interesting. And when I have time to take on more crafts, maybe I’ll learn this one. That might be never.
After this I headed back to the city center area and walked around for a bit, got some ice cream, checked out a few shops, and SCHEDULED MY HAIR CUT. I ran into this salon that looked like the right type of place and went it. Luckily the woman had time tomorrow at 3, and I had no plans so every time worked. Scheduled.
Wandered back to my hostel for a quick break.
Then I headed over to the Bauhaus hostel to meet for the bar crawl. Lucky for me, everyone else that is traveling also seems to be good at this whole meet at the designated time thing. It’s still a little mind blowing because that’s so not normal at home.
This was not a bar crawl like the other one I went on. This one he rounded us up outside the bar, across the street in a little plaza, and gave us a quick run-down. No selfies, no duck faces, all your shots come from him. Ummm… okay? Then he opened his back pack to reveal like 10 bottles of booze. Well then.
So we started right there, and then got a token for a drink back at the bar in the Bauhaus Hostel. Cool deal. Overall, it was a lot of fun, and totally hit the places I would love to spend a night. I guess not too surprising because Brugge is a small town so there’s no crazy wild places to go for the most part. This was when I learned that the girls from the night before were 18… and from the US… so didn’t get the you’re 16 and drink with your parents learning bit. Oops.
We went to one bar that did shots of Jenevier, which is essentially liquoir, but stronger. Very tasty. We did end at a club. This was where I’m happy to be an American, because I have never had to pay for water for someone at a bar before (nor the toilets). That’s very annoying. They’re drunk, they need water, it should be free. But of course not. Oh well. Ah to be young again.
Day 37: Classic Brugge
I started my day off by climbing the belfry. I seem to have some love for stair climbing in the morning. This one however came with a line and a hilarious warning. Check out this sign.
Now, mind you, most towers I have gone up they simply sell you your ticket and let you off. Brugge is a popular enough tourist spot that they only allow a certain number of people up at a time. So the line forms, and you get to go when someone else comes down.
There were a couple different stops with some info, some bells, pretty much the normal. This belfry was built by the people of the city to show that they had the money and power to build tall things. Always funny. But I guess when everyone wants to rule over you, you have to do something.
The best part about the warnings at the bottom are that this was the easiest climb, with the biggest stairs, of any I’ve climbed yet.
After this I headed over to the chocolate museum. It covered the history of chocolate, how it’s made, how it came to Belgium, and a demonstration. Nothing really that I hadn’t understood before. It did have a bit on the different companies that make Belgian chocolate which was interesting. Particularly because I’d been told that Leonidas was an American company, and not really that good or some place you should go. Wrong. It was started by an American, but in Belgium and just as historically Belgian as the rest. Delicious too.
After this I ran over to get my hair cut. So nice to have that hair off my neck. I wasn’t entirely surprised when the hair cut ran like everything else does time wise. Get there when you should, they’ll eventually get to you. But even with what seemed like a horribly slow pace, it was only 45 minutes. No worse than home. I was analyzing after the first pass and she and thought I was thinking shorter in front because it was still long, but no, classic me, wanted it shorter yet in back. So nice to have zero on my neck. It turned out great. So happy.
After this I wandered around town (aka buying more chocolate) and checked out the cathedral. There was a concert going on so I didn’t get to see much, but I guess it didn’t matter much as it looked like every other cathedral.
One of the things to see in Brugge is the Michelangelo Madonna and Child statue in their church, but the church is under construction, and there’s only so many ways to portray the Virgin Mary and Jesus, so I decided to pass.
The rest of my night was spent being a bum and writing the previous blog posts.