Thursday, December 1, 2011

First Morning in Bruges

Safely deposited in Bruges, we made our way through the narrow streets to our hotel, the Hotel Cavalier. It was only a mile but seemed longer with luggage and Lucy the reluctant walker.

We found many canals along the way and while we were in Bruges

The hotel was quite nice, especially since they let us in the room at 10 in the morning. Since it's off season here, we didn't have to wait for everyone to clear out before our room was ready. The lady even mentioned that she thought the room wasn't warm yet, but after three flights of narrow and steep stairs, we were certainly warm enough. The room was delightful, with a bunk bed and a queen. Jacob thought about sleeping on top of the bunk bed, but he decided against it in case he needed to go pee in the middle of the night. Smart boy! So I wound up there and Jacob slept with Mommy in the queen bed.

Lucy poses with our luggage.

Bunks and the TV we forgot to turn on.

Unencumbered, we headed out for a snack. We found a lovely bakery a few blocks away. Jacob had some tiny muffins, Lucy a chocolate pastry shared with Mommy, and I had a cherry danish. All were excellent, as was the tea. We also had a narrow escape. The table we planned to sit at was taken by a group of five adults, leaving us nowhere to sit. A table for two left soon and the bakery staff provided a tall child's chair. Lucy tried to take the tall chair but we convinced her Jacob should sit there while she was on Mommy's lap. Another patron with a child soon left and offered us her tall chair, which meant Lucy could sit too. Such good people here!

Across the street, we saw some civic building with a statue of Papageno in front of it.

Birdman of Bruges

Senatus Populusque Bruges!

We then went to the Markt, which has many spectacular buildings, including the famous clock tower. The locals were also setting up a Christmas market. In the middle of the market in the Markt was an ice skating rink, also opening that evening. We came back later and saw a performance by a girls' group. We weren't brave enough to try, alas.

Buildings along the Markt

Family by the civic building
Ice Rink in the middle of the Markt

We wandered over to the Burg (where a lot of government offices are) and found the Heilig-Bloedbasiliek. This basilica is famous because it is home to a relic brought from the Holy Land right after the second Crusade. It is a vial that is said to contain the precious Blood of Christ gathered by Joseph of Arimethea after the crucifixion. The upper basilica is only open from 10 to noon and 2 to 4 each day. We happened to get there at 11:30, so we were able to go in and see the highly ornate church and venerate the relic. Pictures weren't allowed there.

The modest exterior of the Holy Blood Basilica

Coming back out, we wandered the streets for a while and then returned to our hotel to get a recommendation for lunch and, more importantly, Jacob's peanut butter and raisin sandwich. We went to a nice restaurant and had traditional Flemish beef stew with the famous Belgian french fries. Belgian fries are famous because they are cooked twice. First, they are mostly cooked at a lower temperature. Then the fries are flash-fried at high temperature to get a crispy outer coating that crunches nicely. The stew was a traditional recipe and tasted great. And I had Brugse Zot, the local beer that was crisp and refreshing.

We headed back to the hotel to catch up on sleep, so everyone took a nap.

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