Bruges Beer Bikes & A Ring

August 2008, by Gini

With the August long weekend looming, Tom booked us a trip to the land of chocolate, beer and mussels! Bruges in Belgium.  We traveled Eurostar style which now to Europe for us is the only way to go! Such a stress free way to travel. It took two hours to Brussells where we changed for another train for free to the town of Bruges.

The next morning we wandered around Bruges and ended up in the Markt where we couldn't miss the Belfey (also a big feature in the movie 'In Bruges') with the clouds looming around we decided to make a climb for the top of the tower. We timed it well to see and of course hear the bells playing their little tune, manual style. The view was amazing and really windy from the top. After our 'exercise' for the day we couldn't resist the 'famous' chip carts at the base of the Belfry and got one each with the biggest dolip of garlic mayo you have ever seen. Needless to say I felt ill after that. After wandering a little longer and passing the many chocolatiers we finally came across the canal which surrounds the centre of Bruges and elegantly passing in and out of the city as well. Bruges has been described as the Venice of the north. It has its charms and an interesting food culture but I don't know about the colour of the water! I didn't see any turquoise colour!

We couldn't help but want to get on a boat and see another side to Bruges. It was interesting and even more so as it was commentated in Flemish, with a crowd of greyhairs and a drop of rain here and there, but it was an experience and it never ceases to amaze me how the houses are in the water and still standing!

Belgium is famous for its beer and we had been in Bruges for a good 15 hours and still hadn't had our first 'real' Belgium beer so we checked out the Half Mann - Zot beer Brewery where we sampled their finest beer in a elegant beer glass (had to buy some of those!) which we both quite enjoyed and I finished it all on my own! The tour was great value and we had another beer and then another?! Lets just say is was very moreish!

When the sun showed its face late afternoon we took the opportunity to check out the panaromic view from a hill top (on the map it made it out to be a bit of a climb) I don't think they have seen our hills somehow. We did get to see the sun set from a interesting hill with a windmill on top! All that exercise got us thinking of dinner and the biggest reason we wanted to come to Belgium was its mussels. We weren't disappointed. Beer in one hand and a mussel in the other - this is the life!

The next day the weather looked promising so we had a leisurely breakfast at a cute cafe who served crépes. Tom couldn't help himself and went all out on a chocolate and Banana one and I stuck with the classic lemon and sugar. YUM. We then wandered slowly towards the bike hire and checked out a few chocolatiers along the way to get another tester box - you have to try them all and then buy the good ones was our motto. We hired these cute old fashion bikes which were extremely easy to use and took to the bike track along the canal. It was so peaceful and enjoyable riding through the amazing parks with the scenic water beside you.

We picked up some beers - Belgium of course and some lunch along the way and headed for a park Minniewater which Tom claimed as a place we should have lunch in. After we found our secluded spot a few more tourist bikers settle down in the same area. Little did I know this was most disagreeable to Tom who had other plans. After a few beers and people moved off Tom came to a conversation about how he wants to grow old together and have a family, at first I thought the beer being 9% had gone to his head but he started talking more seriouly and asked me if I would marry him. Still I was a bit shocked (the beer had definitely gone to my head) but when he produced a proposal pearl ring and got on one knee and asked me by my full name it all became apparent he had been planning it for weeks. Oh and of course I said yes! It was a very surreal and wonderful feeling I felt I was biking on water! that might have something to do with the beer?! hmmm.

Still dazed by what just happened we dropped off our bikes and headed for a lovely wee restaurant in Simone Square called Poules Moules where we sat overlooking the square as a fantastic day turned to night. We couldn't say no to more mussels which turned out to have a different spin to them, as they came with a dipping sauce which was extremely fun! Pick, pop and dip! The frites where delicious and so was the champagne and belgium beer! One thing remained! The infamous call to ask for permission. With the time difference Tom had to wait until well into the night and a few more beers under his belt before making the call. Dads first reaction was 'what has happened are you alright' which quickly turned into a happy surprise call so I'm told. The festivities went on into Belgium night with a lot more beer to follow.

Our last day we decided to move on to Bussells for the afternoon before heading home. I'm glad we did! The tube was easy to figure out and we soon found ourselves standing in the middle of the Grand Palace Square which was so different and amazing to anything I have seen yet. We couldn't help ourselves and behaved like tourists and bought the odd souvier and visited the peeing statue or commonly known as Manneken Pis. After reading Wikipedia we are still not sure why it is so popular!

With our weekend getaway coming to an end we popped back on our eurostar train and left Bruges and Burrells in Belgium but took with us some memories which will last a life time.

G
Back into the main squre "Burg" square

Back into the main squre "Burg" square

Cute pointy step shaped roofs were common place in Bruges

Cute pointy step shaped roofs were common place in Bruges

Chocolates galore - there were so many types we couldn't possibly get through them all. But we tried.

Chocolates galore - there were so many types we couldn't possibly get through them all. But we tried.

Tom was pack horse for the day.

Tom was pack horse for the day.