|After such an epic time in Amsterdam, it was a nice change of pace to take the train to Belgium. We were headed to Bruges connecting in Antwerp when we realized that Sam’s small backpack was gone. Thank goodness she still had her passport in her purse. The thief escaped with a Eurailpass, and her journal full of feelings...jerk. We can now say that we visited the Antwerp police station though as we had to file a report and before continuing toward Bruges. A little bump in the road but definitely a situation that could have been a lot worse had her passport and other important belongings been in the bag. We took it as a wake-up call that we need to lock our bags even if we were all awake.
On the train from Antwerp to Bruges we met this 80 year old man, Luc, who went through the guidebook with us and telling us what the most beautiful sights in Bruges were. He actually ended up walking us all the way to the market square when we got off the train.
The place was gorgeous and a definite time warp to Medieval times. The sun was just starting to fall over the medieval buildings and cobblestone streets as the four of us walked down the canals of Bruges through the old streets with our massive bags – escorted by this old man wearing a socks and Tevas. It was our version of a fairytale. After 30 minutes of being shown “the most beautiful sight of Bruges” from Luc, however, we were ready to find the hostel and put down the backpacks. We got a picture with him before we set off the find our hostel – the Snuffle.
Questionable accommodations run by multiple dreadlocked individuals – which was a change from our spotless and huge hostel in Amsterdam but we endured.
In the morning, we ventured the markets and cute town of Bruges. We visited the market that conveniently is only open on Wednesdays (perfect timing) and climbed the 368 steps of the Belfry. We had lunch in the sun on the side of the canal then enjoyed delicious waffles and chocolate for desert. We spent the afternoon walking through the town and found the 3 windmills on the outskirts of Bruges. We all sat under the windmill and laid out in the sun listening to Sam’s iPod and all fell asleep. Magic once again.
We soon found out that Sam’s skin is a lot more sensitive to the sun that originally thought. We are pretty sure she got some heatstroke and invested in some aloe that evening. We went on a beautiful but the most poorly guided walking tour of Bruges that evening but we decided that we had enjoyed that beautiful day in Bruges and were ready for the bigger city of Brussels.
We had one day in Brussels and we made the most of it. It was refreshing to be back in a big city. It was very refreshing to be surrounded by French – finally I understand what is being said! We explored on our own starting with the tiny Mannekin Pis statue dressed in a soccer uniform, the palace, the parliament and Congressional monument. Lo and Erin enjoyed some amazing Belgium waffles that ended up all over Erin’s shirt. We ended up metroing out to the Atomium where we decided that taking pictures of the structure from the parking lot would be more cost effective than actually going to tour it. The guide book says that this structure is the Eiffel Tower of Brussels – I am going to go ahead and conclude: Paris 1, Brussels 0.
After an amazing dinner we thought we would be able to get ourselves together and have a night out in Brussels. We were doing well until it actually came time to go out around 11. We managed to get some free chocolates from a store in the main square – we have decided that Belgian chocolates are indeed unreal and we have made an effort to try many different kinds. We soon realized that we were far too exhausted to be much fun for the evening and after a brief stint at a pub we retired off to bed. I know we are a pathetic bunch at times but at least we will be somewhat ready to see Ben in Maastricht!