Day 169 & 170
Bruges, the city everyone loves to hate turned out to be nothing like Colin Farrell described. With castles, ice skating, chocolate and beer the only thing he seemed to get right in the movie (Called In Bruges for anyone who has no idea what I'm on about) was that it was like a fairy tale. Coming to Bruges solely because of the movie we had very low expectations and just came to say we had been there. Yet after just 2 days, I can safely say it was one of the better cities we have been to and certainly the prettiest.
Getting to Bruges in itself is a story as it was quite a journey down from Copenhagen. A nice 14 hour bus to Brussels was drawn out to a 16 hour bus and ferry due to some shocking weather conditions. When we got on the bus at 4pm in Copenhagen the winds were not happy. As the night went on they didn't get any better. So, as we screamed down the highway at a 100km+ a little wobble or two was normal every time the winds picked up.
Nevertheless we weren't worried, we were on land, what was the worst that could happen. It was about 4 hours into the trip that things started to get worse. Unknown to us, our bus was scheduled to travel to Germany not along the highway, but by ferry, across the massive sea in between the two countries. If the winds weren't happy that day, then the waves were pissed off. This sea was going nuts. Whilst the ferry was big, (big enough for a train to come off the boat just before us) every time a wave hit our boat you felt it. By the end of the trip I'm sure majority of the people on boat were quite queasy and couldn't wait to get off. Whilst this was a time you jet wanted to sit down in a corner and wait for it to be over, this was the only opportunity for us to grab a bite to eat. Me being the budgeter I am, I decided to go for one of the cheapest meals I could find, this ended up being soup. Now whilst it initially seemed like a fantastic choice, the realization set in that we were on a heavily rocking boat and I had just picked up a plate of liquid. Arryn and Gav and indeed all the people in the dining room had a good laugh at me as I tried to find a seat. Yet in the end the soup was fantastic and was totally worth it.
Getting off the boat we thought we were out of the woods yet somehow the winds picked up even more. The bus was really shaking now which we dealt with fine, that was until we got to a bridge. With many busses and trucks coming off the boat with us, the traffic was backed up for miles at this bridge as no driver believed they could make it across without tipping over. We sat in traffic for hours as us and everyone else waited for the winds to die down. Eventually the traffic slowly began to move and we finally making some progress towards Belgium.
Arriving in Brussels only an hour late even though there was at least 4 hours of delay we made our way to the train station. Although it was 6am our journey wasn't over yet. Next up was our train to Bruges which would take well over an hour. Once we arrived we hopped on yet another bus, this one only 20 minutes long taking us the last step of the way. We had made it to our hostel, arriving at our final destination just before 8.
Now being in Bruges for only 2 days we had no time to waste. That being said as soon as we had checked in, got cleaned up and had a bite to eat we were out the door ready to explore the town. We went everywhere that first day exploring the hell out of that place. We climbed the famous bell tower from the movie giving us an awesome view of the entire town and more. The tower was made even better as we walked down finding as quotes from the movie people had written all over the walls.
We explored the Christmas markets that stretched all over town finding cool souvenirs along the way. We went to the church containing Michelangelos Madonna and Child and another church which supposedly contained a canister with Jesus' blood inside. (You can't even see the canister, it's inside a tabernacle that can't be opened). We found monuments all over town that were all completely random. One was something that looked like a beehive car wash and another appeared to be three female stick figures. We weren't really sure what either was for but we had a good laugh anyway.
By the time it had reached 2 we were tired of just walking around and realized we couldn't handle the rest of the day without some sort of a break. We headed back to our place for a relax and took it easy for a while despite us wanting to do so much more. By 6 we were out again, knowing we wouldn't get everything we wanted to do done unless we got a bit of a move on. This time we were heading to something we had wanted to do for quite some time now, ever since it got cold. Yup, we were going outdoor Ice Skating.
In the middle of town surrounded by Christmas markets they had set up a awesome ice rink. For a good hour we skated around there having a great time. The time we went was perfect as the sun set and all the Christmas lights came on whilst we were still on the ice. However eventually the other boys got tired of skating (I could have stayed there for hours) and we did decide to get off. After we stayed out a bit longer and explored the town a bit more. Yet Bruges not being a nightlife city at all we soon ran out of things to do, got dinner and headed back to our place.
Day 2 started early with us wanting to take advantage of the free breakfast yet again. Now I'm sure most of you know that Belgium is world renowned for it's fantastic chocolate making abilities. As such after breakfast we headed into town to a chocolate museum hearing rumors of a full size chocolate Obama. With plenty of free samples along the way the museum was excellent with us learning how chocolate is made, where it came from as well as a live demonstration (which of course we got to eat as well). The highlight however was not Obama as we expected (which was still cool) but rather a room filled with tens of full sized chocolate birds, creatures, bumblebees and even a recreation of the Madonna and Child. It was spectacular.
From there we headed back into town, hoping to tick off some other attractions we had been recommended to do. We went to many specialty stores, a bar with 1000s of different beers all lined up on a wall, a mysterious cannon stuck in the ground and anything else we could find that interested us.
Now the food as always was a large part of our experience making Bruges one of the top places we have been to Between the chocolate, hot chips and waffles Bruges really had all the main food groups for us. We went into every chocolate shop we could find looking for free samples and laughing at all re sculptures they had made. We tried waffles covered in cream and syrup just because we were in Belgium. We also went to many Chip shops around town trying all their sauces. We even got caught up in the Chips competition having to decide which of the two competing companies located right next to each other we would eat at.
Now after all this eating had been completed it was safe to say we were feeling just a tiny bit fat. With little else we wanted to still do in town, we decided some exercise was in order and the easiest form would be by bike. We hired bikes from our place expecting to take a leisurely ride through the countryside to the beach. Yet once we started going we realized how far away the beach actually was and how bad the weather was becoming. We rode and rode and rode, for the good portion of an hour and half before we decided to check a map. We were just past halfway there yet it seemed we were running out of time as the sun was beginning to set. we decided to abandon the beach idea knowing we had done our exercise for the day and then some. We started to head back but thats when the winds began to pick up. I'm not really sure how long it took us to get back but it was a decent ride and a half. Eventually we did get home walking in completely stuffed, yet we had all had fun and were glad we explored a little outside of the city centre.
Despite being completely out of it our final night was one of beer tasting as the Belgiums do love to drink. Sampling many different kinds of beer we met lots of people in the bar and just had a good time. It wasn't the latest of nights as Bruges does kinda close down past 10, yet we all had a good time wrapping up Bruges in a great way.
To Brussels we go!