Brugge is a small but beautiful little medieval town to the West of Brussels made infamous by the film "In Bruges" with Colin Farrell. I saw it once, but pretty sure I slept through most of it. We decided to take a look, not because of the movie or because we had any particular interest in it; but rather because reasonable accommodation for Sat night in Amsterdam was impossible to find. And, what a nice surprise it turned out to be. It is crowded with tourists and full of expensive shopping aimed at them; but it's for a good reason; the place is absolutely stunning! We made the quick hour trip from Brussels by train and then the 15 minute backpack shlep across town to our modest accom at the Passage Hotel. We dropped our gear and then quickly hit the town. The thing about a place like this is that you really can't go wrong... Any direction you choose to walk you'll see awesome scenes of medieval architecture and quaint, picturesque cobbled streets and meandering canals. And so we wandered...along a busy street and to the Markt which is the main square and home to the bell tower from which a main character takes a fatal fall in the movie. An hour or two of cobblestone lane and alley way exploring left us at a sun drenched canal situated close to a Belgian beer store and with a familiar decision to make; is it time for the first beer of the day? Indeed, it was and we enjoyed a bottle each of Belgian suds perched, legs hanging, above the canal as the sun shone warm and swans lazily floated by. I had the locally brewed Brugge Bier (Blonde) and G tried her hand with a Rasberry flavored wheat. Both were delicious, of course. After a bit more wandering we found our way to a hard to find, but highly recommended and very crowded little hole in the wall called De Garre to try their signature Garre beer which is only available at that bar. It was crowded so we had to join a table with some strangers. As happens when traveling, these sorts of situations can turn out to be awesome. We sat next to Stacy and Eric, a young couple from Palo Alto, who were doing 3 weeks in Europe for their honeymoon. They gave us a ton of recommendations for good food, etc. in places we are headed and they have been. In the end they gave us their Rick Steves' Guide to A- Dam which included Brugge and Brussels as they were headed off and were looking to unload some stuff to clear space for bringing home more souvenirs. Thanks Guys!
A bit more wandering including a stop at the "Jazz" bar in town which had no jazz; and we headed to dinner in the restaurant at our hotel. Gina finally got her mussels; a HUGE pot of them steamed in onions, celery, white wine and spices. We took them down, every last one of them.
At night, Brugge really turns on the charm and everything is lit up in pale orange and white lights making you want to stop and snap photos constantly, and we did just that. I hope a few turned out OK. It was saturday night so the streets were lined with tables where people ate late dinners, drank beer out of fancy, unique glasses, and otherwise enjoyed themselves. We stopped for a final night cap before calling it a night and ended up at a place that served Chimay Tripel on tap for 3€. Bomb!
In the morning we took an awesome jog along the canals that border the town and wandered through a Sunday antique market where G's keen eye spotted a swastika etched gold pocket knife among other eery Nazi memorabelia; a reminder of one dark patch in this places history.
After a quick wash and pack up we headed to the train station to get our tickets to Amsterdam then had an hour to kiil before heading out of town. Hmmm... What to do to kill an hour in Belgium? A quick visit to the award winning local brewery De Halve Maan to taste their offering to the beer world, of course. Belgium, you did just fine!