Saturday, 28 March 2015

It could'a been Bruges-al

Well, sadly my stay in Amsterdam came to an end. Day Three of my bus touring adventure took me to Bruges, with a quick stint in Brussels.

After breakfast (where I broke my coffee-fast), we jumped on the bus and began the drive to Belgium. Along the way, our tour guide Arjan, gave us a pretty decent history lesson. Then he made the mistake of asking if there were any questions...and for the remainder of the trip (and I don't just mean from Amsterdam to Bruges), I proceeded to grill him on the water system and climate change plans of Amsterdam. Quite impressively, at one point he actually pulled out a semi-academic article which he thought would answer all my questions, but much to his dismay, only led to more... Apparently, this was not meant to be one of those vacations where I can turn my brain off.

Anyway, our stop in Brussels was short. We took a quick photo-stop at the obviously inaccurately sized molecule. Then we did a quick driving tour of the city, before walking around and enjoying some free time. There was some really impressive architecture to be found here, but overall Brussels was sort of 'meh.' The highlight of this stop was the TinTin mural, and the massive cathedral we found - St. Michael's.

Grand Place on our walking tour

TinTin! (and Captain Haddock, and Snowy, Neige,
Milou, or 'Bobby' (?) depending on who you ask!
Sean Connery*
The view from outside of St. Michael's Cathedral
St. Michael's Cathedral. It took 300 years to build this bad boy!
Inside this magnificent beast.
The organ...which slightly looks like a face with a decent moustache. 
Soon we found ourselves driving towards the small town of Bruges. Many of you are most likely familiar with this area due to the popular Colin Ferrell/Ralph Fiennes film, In Bruges. Unfortunately our guide wouldn't let us 'when in Rome' it on top of the Belfry tower. Something about liability concerns...

We checked in and went for a nice little intro stroll before being left on our own. Bruges is quite simply one of the most charming places I have ever visited. It's known as the "Venice of the North," which I tend to disagree with, but I truly enjoyed my time here. Just walking around, looking in some of the shops, seeing the buildings, and just acknowledging the historical aspect of this place was amazing.

The Belfry

It's also where I picked up this gem...

If you look closely you will see the questionable illustrations.
It gets better once you actually read its contents! Yikes!
Later on we all regrouped and went for dinner. Here I had the pleasure of sitting at the table that was served first, while enjoying the ambiance producing light-adjustment struggles of the staff. We had some really good conversation, and it was nice to just unwind after a busy few days. Afterwards, a few of us walked off our meal and toured around the town seeing it again for the first time in a new light.

The next morning we had free time, although at 9:30 am, had the option of visiting a church where Michelangelo's Madonna of Bruges is found. And while I did partake, the real highlight of not only this particular morning, but the entire trip, was the part that involved me not sleeping in like everyone else did, and taking a much needed early morning walk.

I left the hotel shortly after 7:00 and returned about fifteen minutes before the meeting time to visit the church. I wandered throughout many of the streets. I watched the setup of the fish market, and walked amongst many of the locals heading to school and work. It was lightly raining and was just so calm and peaceful - pretty much the only real time I had to decompress throughout the trip, as it was pretty intense (and amazing!).

When I returned, I was feeling quite relaxed, but filled with anticipation for the remainder of the day's events, including a long drive to Paris.

-the Orange Canadian

*Not actually a statue of Sean Connery.


  1. Are you sure it's not Sean Connery? It relay looks like him!! Love ya L.E.

    1. I'm about 98% sure... The clown nose is throwing me off! Sure miss Krampus...

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