Our Flight to Brussells was about 1 hour & 20 minutes and landed on time. We landed at about 10.45pm, and as usual my passport being non eu takes me a bit longer to get through. At least I didn't have to wait as long as I did in London. That was just ridiculous! We ended up following a Chinese guy who was getting the bus to the train station. Anyway, got to the train station just in time for the last train into Brussells. There are no trains after midnight! Not sure what we would have done. We got into the main train station just after midnight (I never realised it would take nearly 3 hours to get from the plane to our hotel). Luckily the guy was still waiting for us to arrive as we had phoned ahead to let them know, so around 1.30 in the morning we ambled in. He sent us in the direction of an all night shop and we got something to drink and a few snacks. Had a really good nights sleep. Breakfast was included the next morning, and was your usual continental brekky of croissants with various jams, cheese and cereals. Good value! It was called Hotel the moon and highly recommended! The views we got over the square outside from our Juliette style balcony were amazing and in the morning we could here all the bustling activity going on, it was great!
We eventually made it round to the Tourist Info the next day. We had gone a bit off track because of all the lovely looking shops and buildings. The chocolateries are all so scrumptiously delicious looking! Most of them have a constant chocolate fondue fountain where you can buy dipped fruit kebabs or marshmallows or have your own pralines made! That bit is pretty expensive so instead we looked from the outside in and drooled! We discovered that the Belguim chocolate you can buy in the supermarket is pretty much the same as that from the boutique shops, but so much cheaper! Anyway, at the Tourist Info we got directions to a city camping ground around 15 minutes walk away! Awesome, so off we headed. Turned up outside this big church and at first thought that the car park was the camping, but quickly realised there was a lovely garden a bit further. It belonged to the church and they had made it into a small camping ground for tents. Brilliant idea! The Congolese girl that ran it was lovely and gave us some free material bags when we checked in, which we have now made into our pillows. We fill the bags with lazy clothes (these are clothes that aren't being worn or ready for washing as they are just being lazy!) and they make excellent pillows!
Later we went back into the city centre to The Grand Place - an imposing 15th centuary medieval square, which is the centre point of Brussells. The centre of Brussells is like Europes real life Gotham city! There was a huge stage being errected for a free concert the following night. We didn't recognise any except for Mika, so thought about going back to town to watch the free entertainment. We shared a Belgium waffle with strawberries, banana & chocolate over the top...wow! We walked for a while round the city and it seems the rain had followed us from Ireland.
We stopped for a pint of Belgium Stella Artois (much, much yummier than anywhere else in the world!) each and got some free peanuts! I love free things. Went back to our tent after stopping off at Lidls for some salad stuff for dinner. Went to sleep for the first night in our new tent!Next day we went in search of washing powder and a laundrette. Too easy, we found one and did some time on the internet while the washing was going. Later went back into Brussells and the free concert was just getting going, most of the music was enjoyable and the square was starting to get packed, but was not to stay like that. A bit later the heavens opened and everyone ran for cover which then guaranteed a front row seat! However, we didn't stick around, but instead went in search of other free entertainment. As it was the weekend there was so much. We had a guy rolling around on a concrete ball, a group of guys from Soweto township doing a long singing dancing and kicking footballs, and a whole load of others too! The whole day was very entertaining.
On the way back to the tent we had to procure ourselves a couple of cardboard boxes to hold above our heads as it was raining a bit too much! We got laughed at, although I think we had the last laugh when we got back fairly with fairly dry heads and very wet bodies...hooray for more rain.
Next day we packed up while it was still dry but had to wait a little while as the rain started, but didn't last for very long. Walked to the train station and bought a ticket each to Bruges. The trip was about 40 minutes. Its described as touristy, overcrowded and a tad fake. Not at all! I think everywhere in Europe is overcrowded in the summer months, however, my opinion this has been one of the best cities I have ever been to. We loved it and its Medieval feel flows through it and around it. Its such a classic example of a Medieval city. We got a bus up to the campsite and were told there was no place left! So I asked if I could have a look to which she agreed. We found a group of English lads talking to the owner and asking how much it would cost for a caravan pitch. He said it was nearly double, so we pitched in and asked if we could share it with them. We both had small tents so fitted on nicely. Ended up getting the last pitch in the place too! Next campsite was a good 12 kms away. Deal done, we set up camp, and then headed out to find cheap food and beer. When we came back the lads were sat at the table we had used earlier for our lunch so they moved up and we joined in. It was great talking to them! 2 Harry's, Jono and Charlie with "the hat". Out on a bit of a lads holiday, and were just on there way up to Amsterdam...need I say more! They went out later that evening to another festival going on, but tickets were 38 euros each. We decided to save our money.
Next morning we went out early and they left us a lovely note under the tent flap thanking us for our company and saying they hoped we went to Amsterdam too! Hee Hee!Next day we had planned to hire some bikes and cycle round Bruges, but the bikes were all out on hire, so walked into the town. We were really glad we had walked in the end, as it was much easier to stop and see things that having to lock bikes and unlock bikes constantly.
We started by seeing the Holy Basillica for the Blood where there is reported to be a coagulated bit of Jesus' blood in a silver tabernacle. Entry was free and the church building although very small was really gothic style! Next stop was the Belfry tower where we paid 5 euros each to climb 366 steps to the top and get deafened by huge bells up there. We did get some very good views over the city and the loss of hearing seemed worth it! Back down on the ground again we got a panini for lunch and sat in Market Square to people watch. There is an awesome fountain with sculptures of various figures including a mermaid with water spouting out her mouth and nipples. We then went in search of the Madonna & Child sculpture from Michael Angelo. One of the only works from him not in Italy. It was also situated in a Church, much bigger than the last one and even more impressive Gothic style. Its different to anything I've seen before. The sculpture was quite moving. All in all that day we walked just about the length and bredth of Bruges and ended up stopping for an ice-cream next to the canals whilst watching the horse & carts trot past. The horses in Bruges even have their own dipers! Great cause you're not constantly walking through horse poo. The weather seems to be a bit better here too, and on the way back to the campsite we passed by some impressive windmills. Salad again for dinner - never seems to get boring!
We are seriously considering getting a cooking top so we can have some hot food from time to time! The next day we had an official lazy day and did nothing but laze around the campsite, a bit of internet communication/emails and booked our tickets to Rotterdam. All sorted we could spend the rest of the day being really lazy! Went to the chippie later for a portion of chips and had hot chips with cold sausages and cold baked beans for dinner...an interesting take!
The following day we headed out after a lazy morning with some stale bread towards the outer canals of Bruges to find some hungry ducks. With Pete's choice footwear of flipflops we were sure to walk much further than his feet would have preferred, and decided in our wisdom that we could walk right round the outside of the city following the canals. When we got about half way round I found a Dutch guy who I spoke to in Afrikaans to determine how long the distance actually was. He said it was 8kms, so we had done about 4 already, but felt that was enough, so headed back through the city to our starting point and then back to the campsite.
The funniest thing about this campsite is there is no toilet paper provided, so you always know when the boys are off for a poo, cause they have a roll of toilet paper in their hands. Its so funny!Next day we were heading for The Netherlands and so packed as much as we could that evening. We were really lucky a couple of days back, we overheard a conversation where people said the supermarkets were closed on a Sunday, so got double rations in. You don't expect that to happen, but it seems to be the case all over Europe that nothing retail is open on a Sunday....a bit like it used to be about 10 years ago in South Africa & England. The city centre is always so quiet on a Sunday too, very strange to get used to, but lovely for window shopping! Oh and one more thing...if you fancy a wee after too many beers, you have to pay. If you go to a public loo the price is somewhere between 25c and 50c. Macdonalds seems to be the cheapest. If you pee in a public place e.g. the street, and get caught you will pay a fine of between 75 and 155 euros depending on where you are in Belgium. So I guess, don't wee in a public place!