Bruges Day 2

Our European Adventure 2018

Bruges Day 2 (Day Trips!)

Today, our main activity is to take a day trip in our rented car to Brussels.  We are out the door by 9 a.m. to meet our guide, Beatrice. Beatrice was a very knowledgeable guide who came to Brussels 35 years ago to study languages, fell in love with the city and stayed. We booked her through cecile@bravodiscovery.com. She gives us a tour of the Lower City including the grand square called Grote Market where City Hall is situated. She outlines the history of the development of this old part of the city dating back to the middle ages when it was a swampy area and the street we were standing on was a canal. The magnificent buildings in the square used to house seats of political power such as the various guilds including beer makers and butchers. The facades of the buildings display relief sculpture as symbols of the various guilds and most have been cleaned and restored with sections highlighted in what appears to be gold leaf but must be gold paint. They are now mostly commercial shops, galleries, and restaurants.
Beatrice takes us to a chocolatier and we sample wonderful dark chocolate from Madagascar. I purchase a variety box of dark chocolate. I don’t think any of this chocolate will make it home on the plane because we are eating it day and night.
We also have a spontaneous beer tasting at in the oldest part of this area at Halle de St. Gery. This beer was made by the micro-brewery the Dutch Beer Project and it was delicious.
After our visit to the hustling bustling city of Brussels, we head back to Bruges for a quiet evening and dinner on the main square. As things go, sometimes, though, we end up losing Terry for awhile when he droped us off near the square and went to find a parking garage.  After finding a place to sit and relax for a beer and wine break, we noticed that Terry was gone a long while and so we sent out a search party.  We thought we would easily find him on the “Find Friends” app that we thought was so smart to sync with each others phone but alas, his phone battery died on him so we were unable to locate him.  Plan B…We had previously agreed that if we lose each other we should go back to the last place we saw each other. And sure enough, that worked.  As we wait for our traveling companions to fully reassemble, what is there to do?Eat and drink, of course!
In our unofficial quest for the best tiramisu…Margee’s favorite!…we find one that is pretty fabulous at a little restaurant on the square…the beer was pretty darn good, too!
Bonus!  It so happens that we were a couple of days early but on the cusp of a local holiday celebrating the cat.  Historically (like a few hundred years ago) cats were not treated well and many met an untimely death due to fears that cats were the cause of all bad health issues–like the plague.  Once the reality of the town’s sins related to the murdering of all the town’s cats, to as retribution, a two day celebration is held every couple of years and cats are given their due respect with parades, speeches and all the kibbles and bits they can eat (I’m just making that part up…). Here are a few of the fun images we ran across. (Note: Margaret and Shelley made friends with very large feline.)
Cars are great for day trips but a hassle in the city as exemplified by today’s trouble in Bruge.  A better mode of transportation would be to ride bikes but with five of us and a caution about night riding AND needing to rent bikes, we drove (only when necessary), relied on public transportation and walked most everywhere.  People ride upright on sturdy urban steel bikes with baskets and saddle bags and wide springy seats but few if anyone wore helmets. Inspite of great mass public transportation there were still loads of cylists on road bikes wearing high tech biking clothes and helmets riding from town to town. And some of these people are OLD. I would like to try that some day before it is too late.
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