Thursday, December 8, 2011

Final Afternoon in Bruges

After finishing up a nice meal in a fabulous pub and checking out of our hotel, we had our greatest challenge yet: keeping the kids awake for the rest of the afternoon. Since we had to check out we had nowhere for naps. Like Ray Milland in The Lost Weekend, we just kept walking.

We walked along more canals, which is quite easy to do in Bruges. Bruges is the Venice of Belgium. It may not have been just the children that we tired, because we saw this sign on the canal and thought it forbade crossbows.

Or maybe no cables? Or no crossbows with cables attached to the bolts?

Upon closer inspection, it is clear that if forbids anchors, not crossbows. Though we'd probably get in trouble if we started shooting crossbows.

We admired more buildings along the way, but eventually we sensed the children were running out of energy.

Backside of the hotel with the lame tea room from the morning

I don't know what this is, but I'd like to check it out someday.

Lucy shows some wear and tear; or maybe she's just dropping a leaf in the water?

We decided to go for a canal boat ride. If the kids slept, so be it. If not, at least we'd be off our feet for a while. While there are plenty of canal rides to choose from in Bruges, our selection criteria was a simple one: the nearest one. Luckily, that also happened to be one recommended by the guide book we borrowed from the library (which also had a separate map inside and a receipt from the previous borrower's hotel).

The canal boat ride was a lot of fun. Even after cutting out bad, out of focus, dark, etc., pictures, I have 30 left! I will just give a few highlights here:

Happy boat riders

Built in 1675 (if you couldn't guess)

Pretty building along the way

Emergency exit for the canal

We went under a lot of bridges

Church of Our Lady

Not an emergency exit!

We tried to go back to the hot cocoa shop from yesterday. They had a long wait for seats, so we wandered off in search of another treat. One thing my wife was interested in trying was oliebollen, which are deep fried dough balls. They are a standard Dutch treat that are called smouteballen (literally "lard balls") in Belgium. They are very tasty and probably extremely unhealthy.

Fried food stand

I guess the Dutch name is more popular

Jacob was uninterested in the treat but Lucy loved it. After a satisfying snack, we headed back to the hotel to get our luggage. We asked about taking a bus to the bus station. The lady at the hotel desk said she thought it was one or two euros for the ride. We had three euros left, which meant only one ticket if it was too expensive.

We went to the bus stand and the bus showed up soon. The driver said a ticket costs two euros. I got on with the kids and the luggage (so we could avoid the crowds on the Saturday streets) and Angie walked. The bus was full so we stood for a little while. One nice lady gave her seat to Jacob. Jacob didn't want it, so I sat with Lucy on my lap and one hand on the luggage and the other on Jacob. Slowly, the bus filled even more. Luckily, the bus station was only 15 minutes away and everybody got off when we arrived there.

Jacob made it off the bus before I did but another nice lady held on to his hand while I struggled to get Lucy and the luggage out. We finally made it out and reconnected with Jacob. We wandered over to the queue for the ferry bus, hoping Mommy would make it before we boarded the bus. She made it with five minutes to spare!

After the twenty minute drive to the port, we easily made it onto the boat for our overnight trip back to England. More in the next post!

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