4, 1998 Brugge, Belgium
We arrive in Brugge around 1:00 p.m.. An
expeditious stop by the information booth at the train station, and we are armed with a
map and a plan for making the most of the afternoon. Brugge, like most smaller European
towns, can be rather easily navigated by walking in the general direction of the tallest
structure (usually a steeple), and beginning your tour with the town, or market square.
Along our stroll, we slip under an old brick archway into a
narrow walk with 12 ft walls on either side. Our short cut leads us into the courtyard of Gruuthuse
Museum. It is here, as we sit on a far wall and watch fallen leaves in the canal
lazily drift alongside us, that we glance upstream for our first introduction to the canal
cruise boats. Yes, a bit touristy, but now a must do on our list.
Continuing our casual stroll, we do eventually make it to the market
square. Like others, it is lined with small shops and cafés. Laura picks the
cutest and we grab a table and order cappuccino to help us study our map and decide
on our must sees. With the sight of the canal boat slipping gracefully through
seemingly still waterway, still fresh in our minds, we quickly decide that should be the
activity next on our list.
The old polished varnished wood didnt seem
to complain as we each piled on board. Instead, the craft simply sank quietly to remain
just above the waterline as the last passenger was seated. Our guide patiently repeated
each of the tours highlights in Dutch, French, and English as we silently floated
by. The bridges were more charming than practical (at least
for those of us who were passing BENEATH them, we had to duck at least twice). Our vantage
point from the water gave an engaging perspective of this picturesque little town as well
as a glimpse into what it may have been like to tend a small trading barge up and down its
banks hundreds of years ago.
Along our tour we see two of the citys most
prominent landmarks (Jan van Eyckplein Chapel and the Belfry and Halles) as
they pop in and out between the buildings in the foreground.
Our next planned stop was the town brewery.
Im afraid Laura and I didnt take the time we probably should have to learn of
the history or special brewing methods of Brewery De Halve Mann. We were far too
interested in the finished product! After sampling quite a number of European brews in my
research over the past few years, I must say none match better with my palette
than this one Straffe Hendrick. Delicious!!