more sights in bruges and travel to brussels.
first of all, our hotel bed was ridiculously comfortable so we nearly didnt make it out of it. when we did, we were greeted with the bruges rain (similar to brittany rain). we headed across the street to a bakery and got an apple pastry and a bowtie pastry painted with buttercream frosting. not too bad.then we started the day with a walk through the convent square again. quiet, but without the sun it was slightly less magical, but still peaceful and serene. then we headed south along the canal to minnewater park. after that, we worked our way up to grot markt again to see if the concert and triathlon stuff had been taken down yet so we could take better pictures. some of it was gone, some of it was not.
(typical bruges buildings in the grot markt)
then we charted another course north of the city centre, this time heading west. canals, bridges, parks, all with no people and then we arrived at the big, open, modern square called t'zand. apparently this is where the biggest saturday market is in the city. they have a huge fountain in the middle and mod building on the south side. along the east side are TONS of restaurants and cafes.
(us by a canal on our walk; me by the mermaid in the fountain squirting water from her boobs)
on the t'zand, we chose the "petite maison" for lunch. dave ordered a formula menu with tomato soup, steak in pepper sauce, and vanilla ice cream. i ordered just a main dish of pork loin in mustard sauce. damn was it good! also, i tried to order water again, this time the french way that always gets me free tap water (une carafe d'eau). nope, still got a 2€ water. i was especially offended because dave got a jupiler pilsner for 1.90€. i have been drinking the tap water from the hotel without getting sick so i was pretty annoyed that this city seems to be incapable of giving people free water.
(my lunch...mmm, pork)
anyway, after lunch, we walked south along the western canal bank under shade trees and groomed trails listening to the sounds of nature. we passed a covered bridge (smedenpoort), the minnewater bridge, and stopped at the gentpoort. here we found ourselves close to astridpark again. there was a bakery we had noted and wanted to go in. they had a selection of things, but something simple caught my eye, a wafel crème (looks similar to this dutch wafel). hands down the best thing i ate in belgium! thin and chewy and filled with amazing tasting cream. sweet but not overly sugary. amazing little snack. mm mm mmm.
(us by the minnewater bridge)
we walked north, licking our fingers, inspired to find a belgian waffle shop to add to our tasty treat experience. our nose led us to a shop selling fresh waffles with toppings for a pretty reasonable price (under 3€ for waffle and a sauce). we ordered a waffle with chocolate. came to us piping hot from the iron with two fork-knives. plastic forks with a knife edge on one of the tines (so, a knork then? or fife?).
(me and the chocolate waffle)
the waffle is not a breakfast food. the batter is different than the u.s. it makes the waffle stiffer and resistant to becoming too soggy and mushy. the batter is also sweeter, like a waffle cone for ice cream. also, they dont pour a batter onto the iron, they press a dough ball into it, so its definitely a different texture. good, but now we were in sugar shock.
hopped up on sugar, i didnt have the presence of mind to buy the 4.40€ bag of 10 wafel crèmes at the fresh waffle store. i convinced myself that id find them all over belgium and be able to enjoy many more of their deliciousness before leaving. note to self, dont be a dumbass. if you have in your hands a reasonable-priced multi-pack of the most delicious/memorable thing youve eaten in a while...do NOT set it back down and walk away. it will come back to haunt you (i was unable to locate any more of those while in belgium and couldnt bring any home for tasting purposes).but, ignorance is bliss, so at this point we simply left the waffle shop and bumbled along the canal, a little street market, down side streets, through a garden, over a little stone bridge, and back to the hotel to collect our bags to head to the train station for brussels.
(adorable wooden toy snails at the market. loved em; dave in the garden by the museum)
overall, i liked bruges, when we avoided the tourists. its an expensive place but a nice visit for one night. the people were nice and the adjustment to the multi-lingual world was a bit strange. you were jealous, impressed, but also a little frustrated. we knew enough french to communicate with them in one of the national languages, but this was flanders so flemish was the language of choice, and pleasing the tourist was the name of the game so they preferred to switch to your native language once it was identified.
other weird things: a snack option nearly everywhere was a ½ chicken and fries (a snack!?), the tv channels at the hotel were vulgar! (simulating having sex at work, other less main stream sexual inuendos, etc!), and the american music choices were weirder than france even (my sharona, mm mm mm mmm [crash test dummies], easy like sunday morning, metallica, etc).
anyway, we left bruges on a train bound for brussels. once there, we stashed the heavy bag again in a luggage locker and navigated the brussels metro to the stop closest to our hotel. once we emerged from underground, we encountered construction and a roundabout. we had to take one of the spokes but 50% of the streets werent marked. fun when youre tired and hot...finally we chose the right path and walked up hill on cobblestone dragging luggage for 1 km.
tired and sweaty, we arrived at the hotel. thank god it was awesome cuz i had a short amount of patience at this point. the place is called Hotel Housing (rue louis scutenaire 3) and your actual room is exactly like a regular hotel room, and its a nice modern one. but, just outside our room was a loft-style common area with nice couches, a big TV (there was also a tv in each room), a computer, a table, a sliding door with balcony and sitting chairs. nice. then the check-in area on the main floor was also the kitchen. stocked with snacks at all hours (water, juice, tea, granola bars, candies, cookies, yogurt, bread) and a free breakfast in the morning. pretty sweet.
after check-in, we went out in search of dinner. we were too hungry and tired to look far and weigh our options, so we got pizza. and it was poop. but we have tomorrow to find something better.