Saturday, December 17, 2016

48 hours in Bruges - the first half

Well I'm back in London again  after a fabulous couple of days in Bruges, Belgium. What a beautiful city.  Canals, beautiful medieval buildings and chocolate.  What's not to love?

Once I finally got to the station the Eurostar trip went smoothly and the change of trains in Brussels was painless.  Rail strikes here in England made getting to St Pancras station a challenge but thanks to Claudia working out a route I was okay.  It involved a bus and tube but I made it in lots of time although had to leave a lot earlier than I had planned to. The strikes are intensifying as Christmas approaches and there is talk now of the tube going on strike and the airports.  Where and when will it all end?   Anyway I am just a visitor so should keep my opinion to myself I guess. Three hours of actual travel time on the train and I was there.  I took the bus from the train station and was dropped off a couple of blocks from the Square although at the time I had absolutely no clue where I was.  A kind gentleman from South Africa looked up my hotel on his phone and sent me off according to his GPS...unfortunately it was in the wrong direction.  Luckily I asked someone before I had gone too far!  Finally I made my way to the Square (after asking a couple more people!) and found my hotel which was easily accessed from the right side of the Bell tower.  The hotel itself was a surprise as it was very modern.  My room was small - a "cozy single" but that was fine with me.  I got a deal of 59 Euro a night on and the room rack rate was 190 euros.  Now I realize no one pays the rack rate but still it was a great deal.  My preference is airbnb but a hotel now and again is a fun indulgence.

By the time I got myself sorted and out again dusk was fast approaching.  There was a Christmas market in the Square which was fun.  I treated myself to some of those famous Belgian frites with mayo and a mulled wine and wandered around the area.

I had to take a picture of this - a stall in the Xmas market selling Canadian socks!

This was a couple of blocks from my hotel.

Belgian fries with mayo

I wandered around the streets for a bit until I got a bit chilled so stopped into a quiet cafe in the back streets for a mug of hot chocolate.  The proprietor was friendly and I loved the eclectic mix of furniture in the cafe.  I vowed to go back but never did make it - probably never could find it again anyway!

I then walked back to the market which was fun and lively before walking back to the hotel with a mulled wine. It was rather dank, dull and drizzling at times and I felt chilled so I retired to my room for the evening as the forecast said the weather would improve the next day. (and it did!) I can't seem to shake the cold I acquired somewhere over the Atlantic.

The next morning I was hungry - I realized I hadn't eaten since the fries which had been about 2:30 p.m.  So it was off to find something to eat - easier said than done.  I had my eye on a place that was supposed to open at 8:30 - it was still closed at 9:30 both mornings I was there.  I finally found someplace on the square (I had been hoping to go to a quieter place).  I had a croissant and cappuccino which is the usual European breakfast.

Then it was time to set off and do some exploring.  I am feeling lazy so will let my pictures do the talking...

This scene was just a few blocks from my hotel.  I was staying behind the tall belfry  shown in the photo.

Close up of the Belfry - I heard the bells ringing from my room as I was right behind it. Luckily it didn't chime all night!

There was a market going on in the square on Wednesday morning which didn't offend me being a market nut - however I resisted buying anything!

Church of Our Lady, Bruges

The grounds of the Beguine Convent.

The bridge is the entrance into the convent grounds.  This was a very popular area of Bruges for tourists - I can only imagine how crowded it would be in the summer!

I thought this fountain was very cool...and the carriage drivers took water from it for their horses.

View from one of the many bridges in Bruges.

Another view of Church of Our Lady.  I admire the architecture of these buildings and that's all I will say!!

And then it was time for lunch - a Belgian waffle with chocolate sauce at a small Christmas market.  First 24 hours done! (more or less...)

And it's time for me to get ready to head out for another day in London and my first cooked breakfast of the trip! Laters!

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