Belgium\Denmark Travel Journal Day 4: “Bruges; It’s Like A Goddamn Fairy Tale”
Sorry for the profane title , but its a memorable quote from the dark comedy “In Bruges” starring Collin Farrell (streaming on Netflix BTW…). It’s a fitting quote as it really is like a fairy tale city here with the historic medieval and Gothic buildings, tiled roofs, cobblestone streets and swans adorn the place.
Today the elephant in the room is the terrorist attacks in Brussels. We were in the airport yesterday where over 30 people died and over 100 more were injured this morning. All airport and train systems were closed until further notice. We were safe in Bruges touring when we began getting worried messages so I posted a “we are safe update” for everyone back home. We are scheduled to arrive at the airport Thursday to go to Denmark . Tomorrow we plan to be in Gent so we’ll set aside some time to figure out our plans (are we stuck here?will we take a train? Ect) today we just kept calm and carried on with our tourism plans.
After breakfast we did a walking tour of the city based on a Rick Steve’s book. It looks touristy as Hell but I recommend it as you learn a bunch of tidbits. Some really cool places we visited were around Markt (where the belfry tower had a song playing). Of course it is impossible to NOT recognize scenes from the movie “In Bruges” after seeing the movie. The canals that snake through the city justifies the “Venice of the North” nickname. Dijver Canal was especially pretty. We even went to the bottom floor of the Crowne Plaza to see the ruins of Sint Donaas church. The church dates to 900 AD and is the ruins of Bruges’ oldest structure. Turns out Napoleon was a dick long before his waterslide/bowling/ice cream hogging days of “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure” and had the church destroyed (and sold bricks of it to the townspeople). You have to politely ask the front desk if you can take a look as its used for conference rooms. We also visited the Memling museum at Sint Janshospitaal which features the art of Hans Memling and the hospital’s crude primitive tools (eye needle….)and upstairs had an exhibit on the witches of Bruges. I even had Stacey take a photo of me in full witch costume (dress, hat & broom)…I’ll add it to the massive album when we come home.
We did more site seeing and visited De Halve Maan brewery. This was a thing we had toggle on and off of our itinerary because we plan to also visit Carlesberg in Denmark. Honestly the thing about brewery tours is that they sort of run together after hearing how beer is made. This one was very interesting though because a lot of it contained a lot of the original brewery. What’s really cool is that everything was built vertically on multiple floors due to space but gravity is used to move the beer around. Also near the top you walk through the coolship of the old brewery and through a window to a very stunning view of Bruges. After the tour, we exchanged our ticket for a glass of Brugse Zot (Bruges Fool) and it was FANTASTIC! Afterwards we had a waffle. I got one with raspberry syrup and Stacey opted for Nutella.
We stopped by a gift shop where I got more beer for the cellar at home. Seeing some Westvlettern 12 for $10 a pop made me feel pretty good about my 18 Euro sixer. The only place we forgot to return to was the basilica of the holy blood where a vial of Jesus’ blood is said to be held and you can even touch the relic which sounds pretty metal!
We stopped at Kate and Joeren’s apartment where Aryia dog greeted us as we planned dinner while eating the chocolates Stacey bought. We went to De Golden Karpel for dinner where we had some great shrimp croquettes and a massive pot of Mussels. Afterwards, we ventured to De Garre , a bar I was told would be hard to find but a alley sign greatly helped. The De Garre Tripel was world class and so was Stacey’s wit beir! Having not been able to tour Cantillion, we ponied up the 9.50 euros for a bottle of gueze. It was PHENOMENAL!!!
Walking back to our room we took advantage of the darkness to get some night photos around Markt where I noticed a memorial to those killed this morning was forming with candles and chalk messages of various languages. I contributed with a hard to read message due to bad handwriting and cobblestone street. The walk back really hit me with a wave of sadness which brought me to the brink of tears. People walking the same halls Stacey and I were in yesterday morning aimlessly trying to figure out the train system were killed in an instant by radicals trying to justify their mindless bloodshed over a misguided notion of faith. Its a pretty terrible thought.
My message of course was “Love to Belgium”