Monday, June 22, 2020

Day 9--To Bruges

Today we find ourselves in Bruges in Belgium. I loved Brugges. We caught a Flixbus from Amsterdam to Belgium, and 4 hours later we were here, about a little after 1 (there was a stop in Antwerp, thus my inefficiency issues with yesterday's day trip). Unfortunately, the bus let us off at a bus depot (with no train station in sight), which was across the street from a park. Thankfully it had stopped raining, although it was still wet. We had to drag our bags through the park then up cobblestones until we reached our hotel.  Not one of our favorite arrivals.  But, once we reached our hotel, Hotel Die Swaene,


we were plenty happy--our room was so cute! The hotel is old and we are in a room that we were told they think was the kitchen.  This is a boutique hotel with only 24 or so rooms. 

The bed was made in 1703! We even have our own little patio.

There was a beautiful parlor upstairs I went to see too. 

I could have definitely stayed here longer.  Next we went to nearby Huidevettersplein (former headquarters of the tanners and skinners) for lunch. 

(I had a fish soup, just okay) 

We left the square and turned the corner

to continue our exploring, including going inside two art museums full of famous Flemish painters.  First, the Groeninge Museum.

 The second was especially interesting as it was in a former hospital, Sint-Janshospitaal (St. John's Hospital). In addition to art, had displays of medieval medical equipment.  

One highlight is the St. Ursula shrine, depicting St. Ursula's pilgrimage to Rome to see the pope, and returning home to be killed by Huns.

(The one above and below are paintings from when it was a hospital)

After that, we made a stop for hot chocolate and dessert at a tea room (a happy find). 

 The hot chocolate was steamed milk, and a big hunk of chocolate to mix in from the chocolate store across the street. 

So good! With a cherry cupcake. 

After the rejuvenating caffeine/sugar break, we continued walking, past chocolate stores and waffle stores

cutting through the Walplein,

on our way to the Begijnhof, a courtyard surrounded by homes once used by lay women who devoted themselves to God--the Beguines. 

Very peaceful.  The small church was still open so we stepped inside.  The nuns that live in part of the complex worship in this church.  

On our way out we saw swans, so we had to stop for pictures. Swans are a big deal in Brugges and have been for centuries (is it just that they are a sign of prestige and wealth, or is it a tale of  murder and revenge cumulating in swans being keep as a reminder of Brugges bad deeds?  Who knows...)

Next down to the Minnewater (Water of Love) with its bevy of swans.

We started meandering back towards our hotel at this point,

We ended up sitting on a bench for an hour or so, just enjoying the weather until it was time for dinner. We sat in front of one of the most famous canal views in town.   

and just enjoyed the view and people watching (until it got a little bit chilly...but still beautiful!)

I had flemish stew (beef stew with beer in the sauce) and flemish fries. 

We went back out to that same view for nighttime pictures later that night.


  1. Replies
    1. • I've really gotta give some props to Flixbus. This was our first experience with the service and while it was nothing fancy, everything ran super-smoothly. The app was easy to use and even told us where to go to find the bus, so our normal travel day-related stress was really pretty minimal.
      • Okay, the trudge from the bus stop to the (cutest) hotel (ever) was THE. WORST. (LOL, I know I say a lot of stuff is "the worst" but this was just so miserable and far and THOSE COBBLESTONES. Even the front desk guy was appalled that we walked so far lugging our giant bags. I blistered my hands from the lugging!)
      • MOVING ON to our adorable hotel that I lovedddddddddd so much. There was some mild initial stress when it seemed like the hotel had lost our reservation, but it turned out that the man at reception just assumed that we'd reserved a room with two beds, and then he tried to warn us the single bed in the room we'd reserved was really really small, and by the end of it all he definitely thought we were ~a couple~. (For anyone reading this: we are not.) BUT during our many travels together over the years we have definitely spooned in much smaller beds than this one when trying to score cheap hotel rooms and so we were actually pleasantly surprised here. (Carrie, I know at this point you deeply regret that I comment on these blogs, LOLOL. But these things must be preserved for posterity!!)
      • Speaking of the bed, in the US a 300-year-old bed would be in a museum somewhere. Here, it was just...there for random tourists to plop down on and eat chocolate. It actually made me nervous because it seemed like this priceless treasure.
      • I'm glad you got so many detailed photos of that room, though. Definitely one of the coolest places we've ever stayed!!
      • I'm trying to see what I had for lunch at the place where you had underwhelming stew. It looks like a salad. It was probably also underwhelming.
      • Bruges was just so pretty everywhere all the time. Photo No. 13 doesn't even look real!
      • And I really like Photo No. 21 for some reason. I took a similar photo but yours is better. It looks like it could be in an art book or something.
      • OMG THAT HOT CHOCOLATE PLACE. I think that little shop is in my Top 5 places on the planet that I've been, haha. I tell people about the amazing hot chocolate all the time. And my dessert (which I think was called a miserable?) was AMAZINGGGGGG. And it wasn't even my first choice! In fact, I don't think I ever got to try whatever my first choice was (I don't remember now). A reason to go back! And your pictures are making me wish I'd bought some of those amazing cupcakes to go (as if I wasn't sufficiently stuffed with sugar and chocolates...but THOSE FLAVORS!!!).
      • I have...absolutely no memory of the murderous swan story that you referenced. I'm gonna have to Google that.
      • I also don't remember sitting on a bench for an hour but I'm 100% sure that was my idea, haha. I'm sure there were pretty things to look at though, given that we were in Bruges.
      • Did I order stew for dinner as well? The part that I can see looks stew-ish... Ugh, I gotta take more food pics next time.
      • All of the night photos are gorgeous. I can't even pick a favorite to demand that you frame. Okay, maybe Photo No. 77.


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