Friday, December 2, 2011

First Evening in Bruges (Thanksgiving!)

After nap time, we headed out to get our first Belgian waffle. We walked back to the Markt since the Christmas market had several little booths with food and drinks. We soon found a waffle worthy of us, which we enjoyed as we watched the ice skating.

Fortunately, there was a troupe of girls skating around to some Christmas music. It was a lot better than the human Zamboni that performed in the afternoon. He basically shoveled all the snowy ice chips off the surface so others could skate. If only we had taken a picture! We did take pictures of the horse-drawn carriages available in the Markt.

Lucy wanted a boost to see better.

When do we ride?

We went shopping at the supermarket to get some treats and some necessary items for the children, including some prune juice for Jacob's constipation and some "no refrigeration required" milk for Lucy. The milk came in boxes with Mickey Mouse on the outside, which was delightful for her.

On our way back, we had the opportunity to walk underneath the famous belfry.

An amazing structure!

The alleyway in the middle of the building was tight. It led to a small courtyard right behind the tower that was enclosed by two-story buildings. It was an odd spot, though I think back in the old days, merchants would set up stalls in there.

We wandered some more and came across the Flandria Nostra statue that made me think, "That's the name of one of the geocaches I printed out!" She is Mary of Burgundy, a ruler in this area (though she didn't rule Belgium because it didn't exist then) back at the end of the 15th century. On the next day, we saw her tomb in the Church of Our Lady (where the Michelangelo statue is, but that's a story for a future blog post).

Can't really see the statue, but the ladies look good!

I really did take this pictures at the same time of day. Really!

After that, we shopped for dinner places for our Thanksgiving Dinner. We went to Dell'Arte, a local restaurant just north of the Markt. We sat in one of the front tables and enjoyed the roaring fire. Everyone ordered more or less normal food except for me. I decided to try a local specialty. I had rabbit. Yeah, Bugs Bunny was my Thanksgiving dinner. It must have been my imagination influencing my taste buds, but the meat definitely tasted carroty to me. It was enjoyable and came with fries. My wife tried a little and really liked the sauce. It was a dark, beer-based sauce with raisins and some other vegetables that I didn't recognize. Maybe the carrots were hidden in the sauce! I had Templiers beer, which went well with the meal and was very refreshing.

Later, a lady came in with her dog and read one of the papers available in the restaurant. The dog was very shy even though Jacob and Lucy were pretty curious. They watched the dog go under the table, under the lady's chair, under the lady's imperious "shush" when he'd whine too much. Towards the end of the meal, Lucy decided she was a dog and started going on all fours under the table. I just wish I'd been able to stop her from eating dropped food off the floor. Jacob eventually got in on the act, though the food was all gone from the floor by the time he got down there.

We pulled their leads up short and headed out. We walked around some more and ran into a random bagpipe trio on way home. They wore kilts and had a full set of retainers, at least 20 people marching behind them. They played well (though come to think of it, I've never heard bad bagpipe playing). We finally made it back to the hotel to Skype with family back home for Thanksgiving.

The internet at the hotel cost five euros for two hours, which seems pretty outrageous considering the exchange rate. But it was worth it to talk to family. My family was doing well and was glad to see us. The connection wasn't that great, which might have been our hotel or the cell phone hot spot configuration at my mom's house. I would say someday we'll convince her to get internet connectivity, but that won't happen. She is a great fan of Skype and talks it up amongst all her friends. She says they all should get Skype machines.

We also Skyped with Uncle Nate, Auntie Helen, and their twin girls Ava and Isabel. It was fun to catch up with them, even with our kids bouncing off the walls of our hotel room. I mean that almost literally. Jacob was jumping on the bed and running around; Lucy was following big brother's example.

After the children finally went to bed, I used the remaining internet time to post one blog item before Lucy's calling out for me became too much. I closed the laptop (thereby losing the rest of the internet time) and got her to sleep. I decided to crawl into the top bunk and get some rest for the next day's outing.

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