If you have a spare week, spend in in Bruges, Belgium.
This well-preserved medieval town is fascinating. There is something new to find around every turn.
Upon first arriving, I took a lengthy walk around. Once I ventured beyond the central tourist core, I only encountered a handful of people during my two hour jaunt. Just when I thought there was nothing more to see, I’d turn a corner or find a hidden alley and a sidewalk cafe, a sculpture, a church or museum would suddenly make self known. I even encountered three windmills AND a public urinal (boys only).
Having had a nice introvert refresh just yesterday, I didn’t feel like I needed to spring up out of bed and marathon our way through town. Instead, we had a nice breakfast at a sidewalk cafe (Belgian waffles!) and then started walking. During our breakfast, we saw a wedding party arrive for their wedding at the nearby basilica. The bride and her beaming father pulled up in a vintage convertible Rolls Royce. The men loitering around the square were taken aback by the car, while the ladies were cheering for the bride.
I had read that Saturday was market day in Bruges, so I suggested we find the vistmarkt (fish market). Of course we were distracted by all of the chocolate shops, stopping to buy little bags of the pieces that looked most intriguing. Kiki especially loved looking (and eating) all of the chocolates. Her new favorite is a strawberry praline, sort of crunchy, filled with strawberry mousse and coated in white chocolate.
We finally found our way to the vistmarket only to find just a few flea market stalls set up. A few was enough for us to find a few treasures before heading back to the hotel to drop them off.
Since the World Cup was happening AND Belgium was playing Tunisia, Jeff wanted to experience fútbol with the locals. He found a pub, while the girls and I visited a couple of kid-friendly museums.
The Frietmuseum is a great place to go to learn all about potatoes and their history throughout civilization. It goes on to explain the introduction of Belgian frites as an innovation that fishermen came up with because they didn’t have fish to fry in the winter, but they always had plenty of potatoes. In fact, we saw field after field of the. On our way through Belgium.
The Choco-Story is a museum that traces the origins of chocolate from the Mayans until modern times. It included exhibits on the prominence of Belgium in the global chocolate scene, a room full of chocolate sculptures, a demonstration on how specialty chocolates are made and, of course, a gift shop.
To round out the day, the girls and I checked out some local clothing shops. Kiki got outfitted in a Belgian National Futbol Team jacket and jersey. Kai got some knick knacks.
I really wanted to climb the centuries old clock tower in the market square, so we left the kids to rest and went to climb the steps without them. Unfortunately, after waiting in the line a short time, the line keeper came out and cut off entry right behind the couple in front of us. Instead, we retrieved the kids and had an enjoyable dinner at an open-air cafe on the market square. There was a 1/4 triathlon culminating in the square so we were able to cheer on the finishers as we sat and stuffed our faces.
All in all, a successful and very enjoyable day in Brugge!