The Viper Pilot and I have been on leave since Tuesday. We drove to Brugge or Bruges (depending on which language your prefer, Flemish or French), Belgium for our monthly getaway trip. (We decided that we would try to take a trip once a month to a cool location nearby. Since there are so many places we want to see, this is a great way for us to balance the traveling with our bank account.) We have been told that Brugge was an awesome place to visit, but we had no idea… Bruges became a city in 1128 and is sometimes referred to as the Venice of the north.
The drive wasn’t terrible, only about three hours. Our hotel was in a excellent location — very close to the city center where all the amazing shops and restaurants were situated. We got checked in, unloaded the car, shared some champagne supplied by the hotel and went off on our Belgisch adventure.
The gilded Gothic architecture of the shops and stay-a-while tea houses lined the French style river canal were busy with customers and tourists even in the off-season.
The 14th-century Belfry towering over the Market square crowned the city. You can climb 300-some steps to the top, but we decided to take a break from climbing bell towers. I’m sure the view is great from the top, but the weather was fantastic that day and we decided to spend our time wandering around the uniquely preserved Gothic city without a care in the world that we looked like tourists…because so did everyone else. 🙂
We spent the afternoon popping in and out of the random little shops, munching on Belgian chocolates (which are even better than you imagined), and gawking at the gorgeous Christmas displays in the windows. Window shopping is free, ya know…that’s the Viper Pilot’s favorite number.
We dined on “stew in the Flemmish way” with the most amazing salad and fries. The meal was HUGE. We devoured all of it and washed it down with a liter of a recommended blond Belgian beer.
The next morning, we filled ourselves silly with the meats, cheese, sausages, baked beans, and fresh breads for breakfast before setting out to do some real touristing. The Church or Our Lady was first on our list. The steeple stands out in the city skyline (it is actually taller than the belfry) and dates back to the 13th century.
The structure was a symbol of power and wealth for the city in its heyday. Inside is a statue of Madonna and Child by Michaelangelo from 1504 which was purchased in Italy (for an insanely large amount of money for that time I’m sure) and brought to the church in 1514. This church is truly a shrine of its kind.
Just a short walk across the street found us in the Pablo Picasso and Joan Miro expo. There were over 120 original Picasso works of art…if that’s what it was that Picasso created…
|Me and Salvador Dali could be twins…but probably not.|
|I know I can do that with a crayon…|
A Belgian waffle with Nutella followed by Italian coffee in a quaint little pub jamming to American classic rock music (in the perfect location for people watching) served as the premier lunch for us. The people watching in this city is debatably better than in an airport. I would consider people watching my favorite European hobby.
We stopped in a beer store to stock our beer fridge…there were HUNDREDS (I’m not kidding) of different kinds of beer there. I can’t remember the last time I saw the Viper Pilot this excited. We dropped at least 60 Euro on beer.
After yet another amazing dinner, we went to a pub called ‘t Brugs Beertje. This pub had over 300 local beers on the menu — can you even imagine?!
…and all of them were exceptionally good. You seriously can’t go wrong. After living in Colorado, we thought we had experienced good beer. Then we moved to Germany and thought we knew what good beer was. We were so wrong. We agreed that German beer would never taste the same. We’re really not sure what we’re going to do if we live in the states again…in fact, we’re dreading that…we’ll probably sell all of our household goods and buy beer to ship back to the states.
Anyway…the pub was so much fun. It was tucked away in a dark ally that I personally thought was a little bit shady, but I can’t wait to go back. The atmosphere was so fun, and the people were so friendly. There were Americans, Czechs, French, British…it was a jolly good time! (The only thing that would have made it better was a piano and singing.)
That about sums up the first part of our “Beercation” as we like to call our Belgisch getaway…chocolates, food, and beer <– a little slice of paradise. Check back tomorrow for part 2!
Here’s a sneak peek: it includes a castle…and yep, you guessed it…beer!! 🙂