Sunday, 9 September 2012

In #%*# Bruges

We didn't see Colin, Brenden or Ralph, but we did see the Belfy.

Having been...well, I don't think you can say 'enchanted' by the movie "In Bruges" - so let's just say fans of the movie - we took the opportunity of a) close proximity and b) free time before needing to be in Austria, to visit the town.

It's very picturesque with canals winding past medieval buildings, cobblestoned streets filled with chocolate shops and a stunning belfry tower (366 steps to the top!) in the main square. And like most other picturesque European towns - it's filled with tourists - two more Canadians shouldn't be a problem.

The town is very compact, with most of the twisting roads ending in the main Markt Square with the imposing Belfry:

You can pay a few euros to be allowed to climb to the top of the Belfry - the previously mentioned 366 steps twist their way up a narrow passage way. You get to make friends with your fellow tourist going the opposite way as it's a bit of a choreographical achievement to pass one another on the stairs. At the very top are the bells of the Belfry - which ring on the quarter hour....loudly. After you've finished protecting your hearing, you can lean slightly out the various openings (well, up against the safety wire-coverings) and look back to where you took a photo of the Belfry from wayyyy down there:

Belfry - check.

Now onto the classic wooden power boats jammed with tourists, including the two Canadians:

It's a really beautiful ride - it's obvious why they call this the Venice of the north. The buildings appear to come right out of the water. And they are, for the most part, all immaculately kept up - it's hard to believe they could be 300 years old.

The boat captain/cruise director helpfully points out sites (in four languages!) while keeping stylish in his panama hat:

Canal ride - check.

We were lucky enough to be in town on a Saturday to see the market. In one of the large squares on the west side of town is the butcher and dairy market. Actually, to be more exact it's the butcher, dairy, bikes parts, hosiery and pet accessory market. The butcher stalls have huge rotisserie racks loaded with chickens cooking. Already cooked and ready for consumption are full racks of ribs, pork chops, hams, potatoes and mushrooms. You could make a very easy lunch by stopping there - and so we made like a Bruggelingon and bought a half chicken and a scoop of potatoes to take back to our apartment.

The produce market is in the next square over and the street in between is the home shopping network in real life. You pass by tables selling pineapple corers, vegetable slicers, hand-cranked food processors, hunting knives and watches. On our walk back, this street looked like a veggie war-zone with shredded cabbage carnage everywhere.

But back to the stroll towards the apples and strawberries - suddenly you could smell the best stall ever.

The Dutch version of mini-donuts. Bags of freshly made, crispy sweet waffles:

Waffles - check.

We dined out for our last dinner at a great restaurant called Bierbrasserie Cambrinus. Cambrinus is known as the king of beer - the inventor of beer and lambic - so we're just paying our respects to royalty by being here. One of each please:

And something to soak up the beer with. Cheese croquettes. These little square packages were like portable fondue. As soon as you cut into them they oozed out Trappist cheese (is it then up-Trapped?).

And to help soak up all the melted cheese in our stomaches - we dined on the two big (in size and history) Bruges dishes - beef stew simmered in beer and an enormous kettle of mussels (with requisite bowl of frites and mayo for dipping). Could not finish them....the frites, that is - because it would have been a sin to leave any mussel unturned, or whatever the saying is).

Frites - check
One more frite - check
Oh, just one more - check.

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