okay. so another one of the many fabulous things i did with camille when she was out in holland was take her to this sweet little flemish village in the western part of belgium. adam and i had passed through brugge a few years ago on that big adventure we took through moscow, berlin, paris, london, etc., and i thought it was worth a second visit. camille really wanted to do something in belgium (mostly drink beer and eat chocolate) and i thought that since her time was limited, we'd go to a small town like brugge instead of a big, bustling city like brussels or ghent. both of those cities are beautiful and have much to offer, but they're just so BIG! if all she wants to do is drink beer, look at pretty buildings, and eat chocolate all day, then i thought we should probably do that in a little town that is easy to get around, rather than in a huge, expensive, busy city. you'd get to do the same things in brugge that you'd get to do in brussels, but in brugge the pace is just much more chill.
it only took about 5 hours on the train, if that, for us to get from hengelo to brugge. it was a quick walk to our adorable, mom-and-pop hostel with a bright orange room and a view of an old gothic cathedral nearby. we checked in and immediately hit the streets, armed with cameras and a map. we ate dinner at a really funky hotel bar and had drinks to compliment our entrees -- camille had a leffe blonde (my favorite belgian beer) and i forget what i had, but it was pretty decent too.
the first night was pretty chill, mostly wandering and admiring. we stopped off for waffles at a little corner establishment and met this really engaging woman who, as she was making us our waffles, told us the whole story of her day, including how she lost her keys and sent her helper worker buddy to ghent to get a spare set from her daughter who is a medical student or something. and then it started to rain. hard. and wouldn't you know it, we forgot our "paraplu's" ("plu" for short) back at the hostel, so we're huddling under the awning of this little ice cream/waffle shop, trying not to get too wet as we're eating nutella-drenched goodness. (and yes, that is nutella stuck in both of our teeth. funny!) we thought the rain would peter out eventually, but it didn't, so we ended up having to run back nearly a mile to our hostel. and i was wearing white pants! eep!
the next day was basically our one full day in brugge. fortunately it was sunny and amazing that day, so i bought myself a really obnoxious pair of posh-spice-meets-olson-twins sunglasses, the kind that i think my mom probably had back in 1982 (see the posting on gouda to get a good look at how ridiculously awesome they are). then we got a couple of tickets for a tour boat which was basically a crowded motorboat, with a cool tour guide who spoke i think 5 different languages (english, dutch, french, spanish, and i think italian or german or something else. i think he was even able to say a few things in japanese too, but it was so long ago now that i forget. anyway, it was impressive.) afterwards we climbed to the top of the belfry, which was, if i can remember back to my first time back to brugge when i learned this, built in i think three different stages about 800 years apart. i could just be making that up, but i think i remember hearing that several years ago when we passed through the first time.
normally i don't climb to the top of bell towers since they're mostly terrifying, but since adam wasn't there, and i knew it was something he'd like to do, i braved the 300-some-odd steps so that i could make it up there to take some pictures for him to see. i'm so nice. brownie points for me.
let's see what else? i think we went back to the hostel for a quick nap after that, and then did more chocolate shop shopping. i believe we made it into at least 4 or 5 different places while we were there, and got treats at every one. my favorite was a salted chocolate which was so good it gave me a tummy ache. or maybe it was all the chocolate that just had a cumulative effect on me. either way it was lekker.
we walked around. lots of walking. and then it started to rain. fortunately this time we had our plu's again, but decided instead of using them that we'd hop into a little cafe for beer and waffles. so we did that. then back to the hostel again to get all dressed up for a fancy dinner at a very hipster local place, and i'm sure we had dessert somewhere but i can't remember now. we ended up at a local pub where we tried a few more glasses of local brew, and saw a "fat tire" sign on the wall. fat tire is a brand of beer from fort collins, colorado, made by the extremely awesome "new belgium brewing company." (please support them. they're incredible. everything they do is socially and ecologically responsible, including powering their factory 100% by wind energy and methane, which is just a by-product of making beer anyway, and all their employees have FREE health care. sweet.) anyway, if you work at new belgium for 5 years, the owners take you on an all-expenses paid biking tour of belgium, to try the brews there. and i saw this fat tire sign on the wall and it broke my heart because it made me so homesick. (the sign was on the wall because the new belgium kids almost always stop in that same pub when they come to belgium, so they left their mark there.) so i stood up and got my picture taken with this sign, which made everyone in the bar stop what they were doing and stare at me (because i was being "inappropriate" or something, which is just an annoying european way of chastising us casual americans who really aren't doing anything harmful), which made me feel a little awkward and weird, so i was all "take the damn picturrrrrre" and then camille did, and that's why my face looks all weird and stupid. oh no wait, that's just how i always look. yes, that's it.
oh before i forget we ended up wandering into this old old church where there was a michaelangelo sculpture on display. it was all free, which was awesome, so we stopped in to get a look at this beautiful work of art which is truly a testament to the incredible wealth that brugge had at one time due to the extremely popular lace industry. this was one of the very very few michaelangelos to leave italy during his lifetime, and it's really because one very wealthy lace-making family bought it for the church there. anyway, while we were there, there was this lovely choir from england who was singing all these beautiful pieces, and an organist who accompanied them, so i took a brief video on my camera which you can see here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MxGHqmAQarQ
i think that's about it. on the way back she had herself a palm beer (another favorite) and we ate a bunch more of the chocolate that we picked up. back to hengelo for a night or two before off to gouda (which you've already read about) and then amsterdam (up next).
there you have it!