Booking it to Brugge (Belgium Day 2)

Posted by D on Thursday, June 21, 2012

Couldn't resist the alliteration, sorry :P Second day in Belgium started a little too early - the girl in the bunk below me got up at 7am, put on her shoes, and then paced loudly around the room for two hours until 9am. I don't even know. Why? (I was actually kind of impressed with how much I managed to see in Belgium, considering the chronic sleep-deprivation leading up to & during that weekend.) Had some interesting life chats with the other girl in the room, who was originally from Uruguay, but currently located in Spain. Most cramped shower of life, brunch, and then I was on my way to Brugge! 
So I'd figured I would try the whole boho/drifter thing of going with the flow for this trip, and as such had no map or plan for Brugge. In my head, I figured the main things would be near the main station, right? Wrong. Sort of. The guy at the info booth said I'd have to take a bus (3 stops!) to get there, so I dutifully bought two bus tickets, & hopped on. Except there's no stop screen display nor speaker announcement, everything was in Flemish, and the bus didn't stop at every stop. Somehow I managed to end up in the suburbs. (Yeah, who knew Brugge was big enough to have suburbs?) 

So I caught the bus going the other way, somehow missed the stop again, and ended up back at the station. #fail. Third time was the charm - after a quick walk through Sint-Salvatorskathedraal, finally managed to get to the historic centre. Walked around half the perimeter of Grote Markt, but all that getting lost business made me pretty ravenous. Wandered down a side street and decided to treat myself to an Italian lunch at La Cantina (not that I'd done anything particularly worthy of being treated, but hey, a girl's gotta eat!)
Got minestrone soup & salmon pasta - it was delicious! Although kind of lonely, eating alone. I think you feel it more acutely at a sit-down restaurant too, especially when it's all set up for two.  
Ended up continuing my wanderings down side streets away from the Markt. I'd heard that Brugge is extremely crowded with tourists in the summer especially, and is basically a commercialized tourist hotspot for the most part now. But somehow I found a bunch of blocks of deserted streets - I guess most visitors don't bother to go past the general tourist attractions. (Which is kind of sad in a way, I suppose - while the main attractions are obviously great, sometimes they don't really embody the spirit of a place.)  
It was another blisteringly hot day, but the castles, canals and bridges were pretty gorgeous. (I really want to go to Venice. After Brugge, "Venice of the North" this summer and Xi Tang, "Venice of the East" two summers ago, I figure the real Venice must be in the near future for me...)

I tried stracciatella ice cream for the first time (after reading about it on 17 & Baking months ago) - the lady cut me off mid-word when I was ordering, so I barely had the opportunity to slaughter the word. Pleased to report that it was pretty heavenly. The little curled wisps of chocolate add the perfect amount of flavour. Checked out the Basilica of the Holy Blood as well, which is said to house a vial of blood of Jesus.  
Stopped in Ghent for about twenty minutes on my way back to Brussels - the bicycle culture in Europe is pretty huge, but here in particular - by Gent-Sint-Pieters station - there was a massive field of bikes. It's kind of incredible. And so much more eco-friendly than in North America! 
So I'd decided to try CouchSurfing for the first time for the Sunday night. I'd looked up the address of P, who I was surfing with, earlier, and it didn't seem that difficult to find. So I got off at Gare Nord and...somehow accidentally wandered into the Red Light District. It was...unexpected. May have accidentally wandered through a crime scene just as the police were packing up as well. 

Before, I'd thought some Canadian streets were bad in terms of labeling and street signs. No, Belgium is much worse. It took ages to find the building, and I ended up going to like three different #23s, because half the time I had no idea whether that was the street. And of course the flats weren't labelled with numbers or letters or any identifier. 

Luckily, B, an Irish guy living in the same building, was super helpful in locating/getting in contact with P. (There were some really nice and interesting people living in that building actually, from Hungary, England...) 
Tried some local fast food concoction for dinner. It was... interesting. All in all, ended day two in Belgium pretty beat, but content. 

One Comment

  1. Belgium looks so pretty!
    hopefully one day i'll be there and see it myself


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