Moving to Holland is not easy, but it's worth the effort. This blog tells the story of shifting from American life in Pittsburgh to Expat life in the Netherlands,
and all of our European adventures that follow.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Valentines Day in Bruges (it's in Belgium)

- February 13-15, 2009

Anyone who has seen the movie In Bruges, after you stop laughing, has probably thought to themselves, "you know, that town does look like a freakin' fairy tale." ;) (if you've seen the movie, you'll get the joke) Chad and I had been wanting to go to Bruges since we saw the movie. Since it is touted as the most romantic city in Belgium, what better time to go than on Valentines Day?

Once again, the major convenience of living in Europe pays off, as Bruges is simply a 2.5 hour train ride away from Rotterdam (with a train change in Antwerp). We arrived on Friday evening, so we could have the entire day Saturday, and most of Sunday to explore the city. When we arrived, it was already dark, and as we made our way from the train station, it appeared as though we were walking through an abandoned city. At night, there are not many people on the side streets, and all tiny shops are closed. The town is so old, and the streets are narrow and windy, with buildings or walls lining either side. The sidewalks are only wide enough for one person. I liked it, though. I already felt like this was a quiet little place where you could really relax, far away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Chad had booked a nice little hotel very close to a plaza that had bars, restaurants, creperies, and even the local Bruges brewery. The Half Moon Brewery makes Bruges Zot beer, blond and dubbel, and it's pretty good. On Saturday we took a tour of the brewery, which was interesting. We even saw an old Yeungling can in their "beer museum," which had walls full of rows and rows of cans of beer from around the world. We spent the day slowly wondering around the city. It was beautiful and sunny, though a bit chilly, as it was still February. Everywhere you turned there was a beautiful canal, winding cobble stone streets, Belgian chocolate shops & lace shops, creperies, the clop clop of the horse drawn carriages, outdoor cafes, buildings that were hundreds of years old, a church bell in the distance, people kissing, swans… man, this place really is a fairy tale!

The beer stores in Bruges were really impressive. They have hundreds of types of beers, each with their own special glass. We had fun picking out a couple new ones to take home and try. Chad tries to find the ones that look like they'll be the strongest, or have the most hops. I pick the ones with the cool labels. Haha. Our backpacks were definitely a bit heavier on the way home.

We also went to the Basilica of the Holy Blood, and saw the vile which is said to contain Christs blood. A clergy man is always sitting behind it to protect it, and to wipe the glass shield of any fingerprints. It was hard to tell what exactly was in the glass vile. It looked like a piece of cloth with a reddish brown stain. There was also a large cathedral in Bruges, that we went in. They happened to have an incredible art exhibit of paintings of the Stations of the Cross. It was painted by an artist who spent time as a monk in the Westvleteren Monastery (the ones who make the best beer in the world… literally). Chad liked them so much that he bought a book of the paintings.

Unfortunately, we did not see any midgets during our time in Bruges, which was a bit disappointing. Though, all of our other expectations were met and exceeded. It is a beautiful, small, historic town with many surprises. Bruges is one place we definitely want to visit again.


Photos from Bruges:

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