July 18, Brugge to Paris and Berlin
I decided that today would be a bit of a sleep in and relax morning before heading back to Paris and on to Germany. I had originally wanted to go to the World War 1 In Flanders Field Museum in Ypres (Ieper) Belgium before returning to Paris. I thought that if we left Brugge early, we would only have an hour or possibly two at the most and that wouldn't be enough time to see all the museums exhibits, especially if we got lost on our way. I guess I'll just have to return to Europe another time. Instead, I got up showered then got Brenna up at about 9:15 and we went downstairs for breakfast. We sat at a table that looked out past a window box of flowers and across the cobble stone street and bridge over the canal. It was quite nice. We then walked through the town square again on our way for a tour of the canals on one of the small boats. The guide conducted the tour in three languages, Dutch, French, and English, pretty good, and he made some funny comments too. I didn't really retain too much knowledge of what he said, it was mostly pointing out what some of the buildings were, the different architecture styles, and the oldest bridge the lowest bridge etc. Brugge is often called Venice of the North. The old town is very clean and people outnumber bicycles and bicycles outnumber cars. I had taken some pictures of the bell tower but they looked as if the tower was leaning over instead of standing upright. I figured it was just an illusion created by the camera and the size of the tower. It turns out the tower is actually leaning, about a meter off vertical!! After the boat tour we visited a couple more chocolate shops, bought some gifts, and walked through the streets and cafe's on our way back to the hotel to pick up our backpacks. We now had an hour to kill so we just sat in the sunshine and people watched in the town square. Soon we were off on the bus back to the parkade. There are 1500 car parking spots and there is a separate section for bicycle parking. There must have been a couple thousand bicycles there, maybe more! We navigated our way outside the city and back to Paris Charles De Gaulle airport to return the car. We actually drove around the airport 3 times. The first time was in search of a gas station to fill up the tank, the second time was because our ticket didn't say if we were supposed to fly out of terminal 1 2 or 3 and they each have their own car return. I picked terminal 2 but of course we needed terminal 1. On the third go around I missed the exit because I was trying to get Brenna to take a photo of the Concorde jet but luckily there was another exit. I was by now a lot more comfortable driving the stick shift, no stalling and no missed shifts and as far as I know never created any accidents in Europe! We are now sitting in a Starbucks at the airport so I'll have to finish this after we get to Berlin.
Well, here we are in Berlin Germany, our third country of the day. The flight here was good, very good in fact. After we got to cruising altitude, we were served a small dinner of a sandwich, yogurt, chocolate and a mint and it was free not like Air Canada or Westjet who would charge $10 bucks or more, and our tickets were only $80 each. But wait, that's not all, next the drink cart came around with water, juice, soda pop, white or red wine, and beer for free!! Unbelievable. I had the white wine. Brenna said she felt lame just having a juice, I think drinking age in Germany is 16. From the airport we took a 15 minute bus ride not knowing for sure if we were going the right way or which stop we had to get off at. German language is nothing like English or French and you can drink anywhere here, a couple guys got on the bus with a half bottle of beer. We checked into the hotel but they were overbooked on the normal rooms. Fortunately, they had a suite available for us, a free upgrade, WooHoo. We opened our door and the room is very big. There is the entryway, the bathroom ,which is almost the size of our London hostel room, the bedroom area with a couple sitting chairs and a small living room and 12 foot ceilings! After settling in we decided to go for a short stroll. It was spitting a bit but when I asked Brenna if she wanted a jacket she said no, it wasn't cold. We made it ¾ of a block then it started pouring. Next came the lightning and thunder. We waited for about 15 minutes under an awning then gave up and sprinted back to the hotel. The exploring will have to wait until morning.