Onward to Belgium!
First stop was beautiful Bruges (Brugge), where I took my favorite photo of the entire trip while on a canal tour. I love the tree, the water, the houses on the left and the church spire on the right.
Bruges is a town straight out of the medieval times. It stopped developing somewhere in the 1600s, I think (maybe it was the 1500s?) until around the late 1800s when tourists discovered it. It’s been a well-preserved medieval attraction ever since. I loved it. I stayed in a youth hostel in Bruges, which was, while not an entirely new experience for me, certainly not something I’ve done much of in recent times. It was totally fine and pretty fun, actually. The bunks had curtains so it was relatively private, and there was a great bar attached to the hostel and I met some people and had a nice beer or two (Belgian beer… mmmmmm). The only thing was the co-ed bathrooms, which I’m not opposed to at all, except that every time I went in the one next to my room, there were only young German men in there, brushing their teeth, gelling their hair, etc. I just pretended that I knew what I was doing and no one called me out, but I had this odd feeling that somehow I’d missed the “Men” sign on the front (I checked, but it was co-ed. But still). Other than that slight discomfort, it was a fine place to stay. I don’t think I need to be brushing my teeth next to a tall pimply German teenager anytime soon again though.
Then it was on to Brussels, where I was scheduled to meet Vanessa. We were going to wander the town that evening and then the next day go to the Magritte Museum.
I got there first, checked into the hotel, then went on a walk. I immediately came upon the Grand Place (traditional city square). Grand indeed.
The unofficial mascot of Brussels is a tiny little statue of a little boy taking a pee. I really don’t get it, but you could get every kind of souvenir featuring this little guy. Um. Whatever.
I much preferred the frites version. Yes, that is a french fry relieving himself. Tasty!Declining the urinating frite, I decided it was high time for a real Belgian waffle. OMG, it was so good. Light and crispy and almost sourdough-flavored, with powdered sugar and strawberries. I don’t think whipped cream is traditional but the guy asked me if I wanted it and hey, why not? Yum. Later that evening we went out and I had a Trappist beer, this one a nice dark mellow one. I loved the beer in Belgium. I am not a big drinker in general but I am an Oregon girl (home of the microbrew!) and I love a good beer and Belgium definitely won me over in that regard.Truthfully Belgium won me over in general. I don’t know why I liked it so much, but I had a great time there and almost preferred it to Amsterdam, although I couldn’t really tell you why. I loved the food (maybe that’s why) and although the people weren’t as friendly as they were in Holland, I liked that it really felt like an elegant European country. Holland was so friendly and accessible, which is great, but I really felt like I was somewhere else in Belgium. Also: beer, chocolate, waffles. I think the mystery is solved right there.
Tomorrow just a bit more of Amsterdam to wrap up the trip, and some final thoughts about my travels. I really enjoyed Belgium even though the train ride from Amsterdam was strangely difficult. I felt sick the whole time and was plunged into a gloomy mood, which was immediately lifted upon seeing how beautiful Bruges was. I liked having a few days to myself and really had a good time with no schedule, no museums, just me, my camera, my journal and oh yes, the beer.