Waffles, Chocolate, and Lace, oh my!
Trip Start Jan 21, 2010
8Trip End Apr 20, 2010
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Where I stayed
New International youth Hostel
We arrived in Bruges in the afternoon, ready to start off our Belgian experience with some waffles! After walking through town and enjoying the splendor a bit, we found a nice, cozy cafe, and ordered waffles with butter and brown sugar
After waffles, it was on to the Groeninge Museum, where we saw an array of Belgian paintings and other such things I know very little about but still enjoy. On our walk to the museum, we passed a school that was just letting out for the day. It was fascinating to watch all the kids walk out to their bikes (they had a things for bikes here too) and go about their normal days. It made me think about how I could have had any one of their lives, instead of mine. I could be in their shoes, unimpressed by the architecture around me, sick of waffles, wondering why so many tourists desire to climb the narrow 366 steps of the Belfry (which we totally did, by the way). Just a thought.
After the museum, we walked through a couple of parks, which were just as picturesque as the center of town. I’ve included some pictures of the strange trees we saw that looked like people stretching their hands toward the sky. While walking to one of the parks, we stumbled upon a free art exhibit in someone’s house, which ended up being worth the ten minute digression from our schedule. The house itself was pretty amazing, with a big loft room overlooking this really elaborate garden in the back yard.
That night, we went to a pub that offered 300 flavors of beer
After the pub, we returned to our hostel utterly exhausted. We were a little worried about our mystery roommate (as we had booked a four person room). I was afraid some crazy old naked man would be standing in our doorway when we returned. But! Our other roommate happened to be a mechanical engineer who told me how to finagle some hot water for my shower. So, much better.
The next morning, we climbed the Belfry Tower, (just like “In Bruges”!). I wish I could describe what the city looked like below, but unfortunately the fog just made it seem like we had climbed into a cloud.
After putting our feet back on solid ground, which was an enormous relief after descending a 366 step tiny narrow wooden staircase, we headed directly to the train station for Antwerp. I’m not going to spend too much time describing Antwerp, as reliving it is a painful experience
Next stop was Brussels, which TOTALLY made up for Antwerp. We went to a fantastic museum, first thing. Then, we did an underground tour of the former Grand Palace of Brussels. That would have been an archaeologist’s dream– we got to walk through what used to be the palace at ground level, got to see the stones used for the old ballroom, the archways that used to be part of the church, all underground. It was incredible.
At lunch, we all knew how to order in French, (The northern part of Belgium speaks French, and the southern part speaks Dutch) which is always fun. It was nice to take a break from Dutch for a while and return to something slightly more familiar. All the food we had in Belgium was delightful, by the way.
On the way to the train station, we walked through the main square. It was a shame we didn’t have more time to spend there– it was absolutely breathtaking. There were groups of primary school kids playing games in circles, shouting at each other and laughing. The buildings stretched up and around us like we had entered some kind of magical kingdom. Amazing.
Last stop was a chocolaterie, where we bought a few pieces of filled chocolate. The perfect end to a few of the most exhausting days I’ve ever had in my life. Totally worth it.
More to come. Off to Venice tomorrow!