Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Days 19-20: Bruges, Belgium

So we finished our two day excursion to Bruges, Belgium. We didn’t blog at all while we were there because we “discovered” (I already knew about this, Kristy did not) that we could rent movies on iTunes and watch them. We have had some fun evening activities such as concerts . . but we aren't pub crawlers - so we usually end up in our rooms by 8 or 9 at night. Monday night we watched Bride Wars and last night we watched Doubt. It’s pretty cool for traveling purposes but I don’t think I would regularly rent a movie on iTunes. We had planned on watching some movies that you could “view instantly” on Netflix, but Netflix knew we were out of the country and wouldn’t allow it. We found a much better option anyways (we finished Doubt on the train this morning) and since Colby’s debit card is the card that shows on our itunes account, he is footing the bill! Thanks Colby!

We started late on Monday and first thing we did was get more waffles! We went to a place on the Main Market Square and had the most delicious banana chocolate waffles. They were even better than the strawberry ones we had the night before.

We spent the rest of the day exploring Bruges. We just wandered up and down the streets. Bruges is a beautiful, well-preserved gothic city. In fact, Bruges has been described as even more gothic than gothic. This means that when buildings are restored they add extra gothic embellishment than might have been there originally. After walking around for awhile, we decided to rent bikes and explore the city. We biked through the parks and around the canals and it was very enjoyable. Mom went crazy over the architecture. She pointed out how the windows all shared the cross motif. Look at our pics below and see if you can see it too. Unfortunately, the bike seat was very uncomfortable for me so I have had a sore bum the whole time we have been in Bruges. I still really enjoyed the bike ride and I wish it hadn’t been so painful. Most everything was closed on Monday, even shops, so we called it an early night. We’re not sure if Monday is just the dead day in Bruges (many museum and sights are closed on Mondays) or if it was the Pentecost holiday. That night we picked up some take-out Chinese food, skyped the guys, and watched Bride Wars in our hotel room.

Tuesday we decided to visit some of the museums in Bruges. We started first by climbing the Bell Tower in the Main Square. It felt a little bit like we were climbing the Eiffel Tower again. We climbed all the way to the top (366 steps). We were even up there when it played a song. The Bell Tower is pretty incredible and we had a nice view from the top but the line and traffic to get up and down was a little ridiculous. This was because the stairwell was so narrow and there were people going both up and down at the same time. There wasn't room for two people wide - so you had to wait your turn much of the way.

Following our climb at the Bell Tower we walked to Burg Square where we viewed many different types of architecture – from the 12th century to modern day. The Bruges Town Hall had an incredible gothic hall – no pictures allowed of course – with beautiful murals and decorations. Kristy didn’t see the sign and so she took a video of the inside of city hall. She didn’t get caught so maybe I should have just taken some pictures.
After that we got a lunch at place recommended by Rick Steves – we were more confident in him as he had recommended the waffle place the day before. It was a tiny restaurant called Bistro den Amand. Kristy had Shrimp with vegetables and rice. She prefers not to have her shrimp served with the heads on and the beady little eyes staring at her. Not only did she get 7 shrimp staring at her throughout the meal - but she had to push the shrimp whiskers away to get a forkful of rice. Good thing it was delicious. I had spring “rolls” (more like little packages) filled with chicken and vegetables and rice and paprika sauce. It was very good.

After that we visited the Groeninge Museum, which instead of its typical art exhibit, had a special exhibit on Charles the Bold. Charles the Bold was the Duke of Burgundy during the 15th Century and the museum was filled with artifacts from this time. It was a neat exhibit and there was still some of the art from the museum peppered throughout. No pictures allowed, of course.

We popped in the Church of our Lady (upon editing the second word in this sentence discovered that I had typed a double o and a single p – hah! Can you imagine??) before it closed. This cathedral seemed more real to me. It had all of the same gothic architecture like every other cathedral we’ve been to, but there were displays on the current ministry of the church and the local activities that were going on. I liked that. It made the catholic church seem not so ancient and distant to me. There was also a Madonna and Child statue by Michelangelo there, which was nice to see. The expression on the Madonna's face was so peaceful.

We window shopped for awhile before purchasing a quick take-out dinner at a grocery store. We skyped with the guys again and started Doubt.

Sorry for the lack of detail in this entry. Kristy is the master of the pen. She could describe all of the gothic architecture much better than I could.

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