December 11, 2009

Brugge - The Venice of The North

When I was here in January 2009, Stijn had told me about Brugge and how many consider it the "Venice of the North". So because of the numerous canals that intersect throughout this coastal medieval city, this is of course someplace I must see!

After our walk in Oostende this morning (Nov 1) we take the 30 minute drive to Brugge. I'm going to pass on to you a little piece of information you might want to consider when you come to see Brugge. Parking can be next to impossible in the old center, so with the advice of Stijn's father, we parked at the train station, then walked over to the cashier and showed her our parking ticket, she then handed us two free round trip bus tickets. What's great about this is that not only do you not have to fight for a parking space, but the bus makes several stops within the old center.

We choose to start our day by getting off of the bus in the Grote Markt (Market Square). Here is where I am immediately in mouth dropping awe of the fantastic architecture, the cobbled streets, the horse drawn carriages.....Oh My Gosh! The picture you see above is the "Belfry Tower and Cloth Hall" which dominates this square.

As we make our way to find where we can get on one of the many boat rides through the canals, we walk into yet another square "The Burg" the heart of the administrative Bruges. In this square is the magnificent Town Hall.
And directly to the left is the "Civil Registry"

Regarding the weather, nothing much has changed since our walk this morning in Oostende, except for the fact that the grey skies are getting darker and a light rain is beginning to fall. We MUST find those canal rides! But you know me, I have to keep stopping and taking pictures. This of course allows time for more rain to fall. So we decide to take a look in several shops. The one I enjoyed the most, and I think most of you would too, was the store, 2be. This was a great shop full of the most extensive collection of Belgian beers I have ever seen. This shop had several different rooms with beer bottles stacked from floor to ceiling. We even took a peek at the beers located downstairs in the cellar. Of course there were lots of other items, like cookies, candies, and gifts. Adjoining 2be was a cute little terrace where you could sit and have a bite to eat along with your choice of beer overlooking one of the many canals. For us though, it's a bit too rainy now, so we opt for some indoor dining.

We make our way through the cobbled streets, ducking under canopies to try and stay dry, in search of the perfect place to have lunch. And then there it is! "Curiosa".

A small narrow staircase leads us down to a heavy timbered door where you enter into a small room filled with wooden tables and chairs set beneath a plaster and brick arch ceiling. Tucked to one side is a beautiful bar wrapped in old brick.

We ordered something nice and hot to help warm us up after walking a few hours out in the cold and rain. For me, I had this great seafood casserole called "Gratinated Fishpot" and Stijn ordered up a grilled filet steak with mixed vegetables and the standard side dish of fries. And of course we complimented our meals with a great Belgian beer.

After lunch we headed back out in the rain and continued walking through the cobblestone streets of Brugge. But first, right across the street is this wonderful Belgian chocolate shop!

Since I've been coming to Belgium, I have had my fair share of Belgian chocolate, so Stijn introduces me to a popular candy with the Belgian's....Cuberdons or as the Belgians affectionately call them, neuseke (small nose)! These are a great cone shaped candy about 1 inch tall, that come in many flavors and are filled with a sugary jelly like filling. We chose the purple ones that tasted like grapes.

We've decided that today was just not the day to take a boat ride through the canals of Brugge. There are really so many beautiful sights to see in Brugge that missing out on a canal ride didn't really disappointment me at all. Besides, while walking I could take my time and peer in the windows of shops, take pictures along the canals of the great little wooden houses and walk over a few of the many bridges that cross over the canals. When we came upon the "Bonifacius Bridge" that is situated between Gruuthuse and Arentshof, it was definitely a Kodak moment.

As we crossed over the bridge, Stijn had me look up to see what is said to be the "Smallest Window" in Brugge.

Brugge really has so much more to see and do, but I think it's time to come in from the rain. What do you think?

If you would like to see more pictures of our day in Brugge, just go to "Where's Debbie" and click on the album "Brugge"

December 9, 2009

A Morning Walk In Oostende

After watching the victory game of Club Brugge last night we drove to Oostende to spend the night. Oostende is the largest coastal town in Belgium.

Our plan today (Nov 1) is to take a walk along the beach before heading back over to Brugge to spend the day. We are staying at Hotel die Prince and it is right in front of the beach! We of course have a room with a view of the lower roof and the rooms across from us. Not the view we were hoping for, but a view none the less. After we have breakfast in the hotel we bundle up to prepare for our walk.

I was so excited to see the waves of the North Sea rolling in as we stepped out the front door of our hotel! It is a day with no sunshine, grey skies, and a light wind. But that's not stopping me, I see a Lighthouse up ahead!

As we continue to walk we see an open air fresh fish market and must stop in to have a look. And what better place to get the catch of the day then from a market on the beach!

Now if you're not into fresh fish you could certainly get yourself some prepared seafood dishes or some dried fish that is hanging from the canopies of the kiosks that line the waterfront.

We made our way to the Mercator Marina and got a close up look of the "Mercator Ship"

The Mercator was built in 1931 and was used by the Belgian Navy until 1960. Now it is a floating museum and tours are available, but we chose to save this for another day and continue our walk through the shopping street while making our way back to our hotel.

I just love the shopping streets of Europe! These are streets where no vehicles are allowed! They are also a shopaholics dream. Walking along cobblestone streets passing stores selling clothing, housewares, flowers, chocolates, pastries! And no shopping street is complete without the "Golden Arches"!

You know the day is going to be a great one when you can start with a walk on the beach!

Next stop, Brugge.

You can see more pictures of our walk by going to "Where's Debbie" and click on the album "Oostende"
Related Posts with Thumbnails