Part 3 - Bruges / by Adam Stern

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We arrived in Bruges the previous night via train from Utrecht, and found our way to the Hotel Navarra for an 11pm check-in. The hotel looked very nice, but really… all we needed was a bed in an air-conditioned room. Which we were given. Good night.

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One nice sleep-in later, we awoke to a sunny morning and we were off to explore the magical city of Bruges. 

Wow

Deb has been telling me about this charming place for years, and it did not disappoint. Straight out of a fairytale. We walked cobblestone streets enjoying the centuries-old architecture, canals, and castles. 

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First stop, breakfast at “Le Pain Quotidien”, a lovely spot with a beautiful garden patio in back. A nice meal, accompanied by cappuccinos served with Belgian chocolates. The temperature quickly began to climb, but… we were in Bruges. So no worries.

Next stop, a brewery tour at “De Halve Moone”, one of two working Bruges breweries that offer a glimpse behind the curtains. We had a wonderful guide who showed us how the beer is made, and explained how they crowd-funded a 4km pipeline from the brewery to their bottling/distribution plant through underground pipes. Participants in the successful campaign receive beer for life — once a year on their birthdays, or for the big spenders, every single day.

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After indulging in a wonderful sample on location, we headed out for more - just taking Bruges in, wandering the streets and lanes, walking around Lake Minnewater, known as the Lake of Love, taking lots of photographs and being full-on tourists.

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After a quick siesta back at the hotel, it was time for WAFFLES. I was not leaving Bruges without completing the tasty trifecta of chocolate (breakfast chocolate! Check), beer (check), and waffles. Deb did a quick search on where to find the best in town, and the one that caught our eye was called “Lizzie’s”.

Lizzie’s waffles were mind-boggling. I have issues with sense of scale when even trying to describe the PIZZA-SIZED confections that were presented to us, after choosing our toppings - cherries, ice cream and hot chocolate sauce for me, white chocolate and caramel for Deb. 

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Waffle-pocalpyse. 

We took a moment, heads buzzing from the sugar, then were off to one of Bruges’ main tourist attractions, the famous Belfry Tower (Have you seen “In Bruges”? If not, we won’t ruin it for you). But… oh no! We were literally 5 minutes too late to join the cue for the day. Somewhat disappoined, we quickly rallied and decided to go for it in the morning.

We walked a bit more, until we felt we could ingest something again. TripAdvisor pointed us down an alley to a cool little bar called De Garre. I tried their tasty house brew and Deb sampled a peach beer. Yum.

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Off to dinner in the main square. We “walked the menus” until we settled on one of the several patio’d establishments, and tucked into mussels, fries, appetizers and more beer. yes, I did most of the tucking. 

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Ready to pass out from the eating, beer, heat, and a full day of walking, we made our way back to the hotel for a good night’s sleep.

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The next morning, we hit the Belfry at 9:30am to climb it before having to catch our train. We can now say we did it, and it was a fun quick climb up the 366 stairs, but frankly a disappointing view at the top behind a wire mesh grid. I guess they saw “In Bruges” too. 

Back to the hotel to check out, and off to the train station.

Bruges. Amazing. And done.