Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Second Evening in Bruges

When the children woke up, we headed out for more adventures. It was getting late, after 5 p.m., which meant many sites would be already closed. So we walked along some of the canals, watching the ducks swim along and admiring the buildings and bridges.

Jacob looks for ducks

We planned to go the Jerusalem church to see some replicas of the Holy Land but that closed at 6 and we were already pushing it. In stead, we continued walking leisurely, winding up at Cafe Vlissinghe (which has been open for business continuously since 1515!) for a dinner. We ran into friends from the ferry again here! The bar was not too small but very cosy. We sat at the six-seat table in the middle, the only one available that was large enough for us. The bar had some coat hooks in the corner.under which was a stack of board games. My wife grabbed dominoes for Jacob and Lucy to play with. Lucy started making train tracks and swimming pools and churches and other buildings. Jacob was less creative since he was more hungry and focused on getting food. Why don't more bars and pubs have board games for customers?

In its special glass
Be that as it may, I had Tripel Karmeliet beer that went nicely with my grilled ham, cheese, and pineapple sandwich. Jacob and Lucy has spaghetti bolognese. My wife had soup and bread, anticipating the future snack. Dinner went well. Some Brits came in looking for a table just as we were finishing up. We told them our table would be available soon. One of the ladies sat down with us after getting a drink. She chatted for quite a while. Turns out she works at a tourist information center in the south of Britain and had lots of recommendations for things to see down there.

One thing she didn't recommend was how they got to the continent. They drove through the Chunnel (the tunnel from England to France). Actually, they drove onto a train that drove them through the Chunnel. She said it was disorienting to be in a stationary car that was moving so quickly. It was especially odd inside the tunnel, where there was no external references to go with the feeling of motion. They did eat sandwiches as they rode, so time wasn't wasted. But it wasn't as fun as it could have been.

The pub also had a long shelf of saints' statues. It was the first time a pub reminded me of my mom's home. I wish I had taken a picture, but maybe I'll find something on line that shows how much they have.

We finally paid for our check and let the Brits take our table. We started following canals again for a little while. We wound our way back to the Markt where my wife bought a crepe with sugar. Fresh-made crepes are awesome.

Mommy and Lucy enjoy a crepe

Daddy and Jacob happy not to be skating

I finally had Gluhwein, which is a hot mulled wine. I was a little nervous about having hot wine. I shouldn't have been worried. It was yummy and warmed me up twice over. We watched some more of the ice skating as we enjoyed our treats.

I definitely identify with the poor girl in the blue shirt clinging to the inside rail. Hence I did not skate. Soon enough, the children were complaining of the cold. Rather than giving them a sip of the Gluhwein, we headed back to the hotel for bedtime.

After the kids went to bed, I went two doors down to the Cafe De Kuppe, home of 100 Belgium beers. I had a Jupiler and later a Trappist Bruin as I worked on pictures and blog posts. When I first arrived about 8:30 the place was quiet. It quickly filled up with customers from a wide demographic, young and old, couples, families, friends, etc. The music is a pleasant if too loud mixture of mostly American pop music. I'm not 100% sure since I was focused on other things. A lot of recent American pop is unfamiliar to me. Something has to be an Internet or YouTube sensation for me to be aware of it. Or it has to play in every store, pub, and public place you can imagine.

Anyway, an interesting fact about beers in Belgium is that they often have their own specially-shaped glasses. The Jupiler came in a tall, thin glass. The Trappist has a goblet-type glass. Even though bars use this system, I can't imagine people do it at home. Sure, they might have special glasses for their favorite brand or style of beer (and I'm not sure if it is tied to brands or styles of beer). If I'd discovered a favorite beer, I probably would have bought some glasses for home. I suppose it will be something to buy on a future trip!

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