I took almost 800 pictures in Bruges, so this is going to happen in a few parts. It’s taking me a massive amount of self-restraint to not just publish 80 posts of photos. We were supposed to stop and spend the late afternoon/evening checking out Ghent, but we spent so many hours trapped in the traffic of Brussels that we were not able to (still sad about that). We have been pretty lucky so far with traffic, but driving through Brussels at 5pm on a Friday was nothing short of terrible.
Anyway, we got a room at a hotel a couple of miles outside of the heart of Bruges because anything closer was way out of our budget. Peasant life. We spent two nights at the Value Inn Bruges and it was a lovely little hotel.
We were able to finally all get a good night’s sleep because that window opened and there was a consistent breeze all night. Hooray for small miracles.
After we arrived, we walked a couple of blocks to a small restaurant for our first Flemish fare. Doug and Sari both had steaks and I had lobster soup. I really wanted escargot, but I didn’t know how well it would sit in my stomach during a morning run. We also got our first Belgian fries. They were tasty.
We were slightly concerned about our ability to communicate in Belgium after we encountered only French in Bastogne, but pretty much everyone in Bruges spoke very clear English. We were extremely happy about that because Bastogne really tested the limits of my memories of high school and college French.
The next morning, I woke up around 6:45 to go running. I had not been able to run the past few days because we left so early each day that I would have had to run in complete darkness. While I enjoy that at home, it’s not really something I wish to do in a place that I’m completely unfamiliar with. I left our hotel just after 7 and it was completely dark still. It did not occur to me that I was further north and the sun would come up later. Oops.
Our hotel was just off of Koning Albert I-Iaan which is a main street that goes into the heart of the city. I ran on it toward town and figured I would just wing it when I got downtown. I didn’t get a SIM card since we were only in Belgium for two days, so I couldn’t navigate with my phone. At one point I was running down a street that was completely dark and it occurred to me that there were no other runners out and I had absolutely not idea about whether or not Bruges was a safe city. So, that was not a good move on my part, but thankfully nothing happened.
As I got closer, I spotted a church tower and started weaving my way toward it.
Then I saw another
And another tower (not a church):
I spent about a mile lost on my way home, but I eventually made it with just under six miles total. We got ready and headed to the Sint Michiels area to do some laundry. While I kept a watch on the machines, Doug and Sari got our breakfast.
I could live solely on croissants I think. We finished our laundry by lunch and headed into town. It was crowded as hell. Bruges on a Saturday is mayhem. If you visit, go on a Wednesday or something because there were places where we couldn’t even walk. It’s quite the popular little place.
We walked by Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk and I wanted to go inside, but there was a hellacious long line to get in. So, we kept moving.
Per usual, our primary goal was to get some food as we were afraid all the food places would close on us around 2. Everything was packed, but we finally found a little restaurant called City De Poulin Kipkroeg (I have no idea how much of that is the actual name, but that’s what was on the window) down a side street. Doug and I split the short ribs with potatoes and Sari had tomato soup with meatballs.
Sari is a pretty picky eater, so watching her try to navigate menus in other languages has been interesting. Doug and I both got the Achel Blond and it was one of the best beers of my life.
I was so glad to hear that it’s apparently quite difficult to find.
After lunch, we passed the church again and this time there wasn’t a long line. As it turned out, the line was actually to get into some kind of art exhibition, so I ignored that and walked right by it into the church.
Doug and I were in the middle of bitching/trying to figure out who had slapped an ugly white wall up in the middle of the church blocking what were sure should have been a spectacular view, when Sari excitedly came running up. As it turns out, that art exhibit we had so easily dismissed contained a somewhat well-known Michelangelo piece.
Oh hi there Madonna and Child.
She was beautiful. I had no idea she was in that church. For some reason I thought the sculpture was in Ghent. I’m so glad Sari realized she was back there.
There was also a spectacularly ornate pulpit.
With this dramatically crying chubby little angel, this concludes part 1 of undecided Bruges posts.