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February 20th 2010
Published: February 23rd 2010
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Bruges in the sunlight!
We got up early the next morning and headed back into the center of town to visit two last things we wanted to see in Bruges: the bell tower and the Choco-Story Museum. The weather was absolutely stunning outside--the best day of our trip by far! The sky was clear and blue without a cloud in the sky, and the sun was shinning brilliantly and warming my face like an old friend. Suddenly, I was in love with Bruges. All of the houses and buildings looked better in the sunlight, and we watched little duckling swim down the part of the canal that was thawed.

So we walked through the main square and towards the entrance to the bell tower, which is 366 steps high. We paid the entrance fee and started our climb up the tower. Every 50 steps or so there would be a resting point, which we made use of, because it got pretty tiring. The higher up we climbed, the more narrow the stairs became until it also felt like we were literally climbing vertically. There was even a rope attached the wall to hold on to and help hoist yourself up! Finally, we made it

the bell tower
to the summit and we suddenly emerged to the belfry where it was really windy! The brisk air was whipping my hair around as I gazed outward and saw the brilliant skyline of Bruges. It was an amazing view, and totally worth the grunt-filled climb. We stayed up there for a while, looking out and then started our descent down, only the find out that it's the same way going up as down! Several times we had to squeeze past people going the opposite direction in the stairwell that was only three feet wide at parts!

Next it was on to the chocolate museum. We found our way there again easily enough. Inside we read about the history of chocolate all the way from early Central American times. They also had all sorts of things carved in chocolate, like a life size statue of President Obama! We also got to watch a chocolate demonstration where a chocolatier made pralines all the way through! Neat!

We walked around a little more and then headed to the Bruges Centraal station to take the train to Brussels.

In Brussels, we were thrown into a whole different ballpark. We left the station to find ourselves in a big, dirty looking intersection. Our hostel was supposed to be near and after poking around for a little bit we found our street. Due to a lot of signs in Arabic and kebab stands we assesed that we were in the Arab quarter. We found our hotel (that's right! hotel!), which was a very sketchy looking establishment, but hey, Sarah and I had our own room AND our own bathroom! After nights of sharing a dorm with 10+ people, this was going to be awesome!

So we dropped our stuff off and headed into the main square, which had lots of impressive buildings. I was so glad to be back in the land where they speak French! I had spoken French with the hotel man, and all the street signs had French names. We walked to the Bozar, the museum of fine arts, to buy our tickets for the Frida Kahlo exhibit that I'd been dying to see ever since we heard about it in January. The exhibit is so popular that though it was 3pm we had to wait until 6pm to enter. So we went and kicked around until then. We visited the Cathedral of Saint Michael. It's an awesome piece of architecture! Inside we sat down, and it looked like they were getting ready for a mass. The church bells were ringing.

I don't recall ever being to a Catholic mass, so I was kind of curious to stay at least for a little. The mass started and the huge organ started playing. Then the choir started singing and the Priest and two other guys walked down the aisle solemnly carrying the Bible, the cross, and the smoke thing. It was pretty interesting, but then i figured we should go before it got too into it (because it would be rude to leave once things really got rolling), so we tried to leave as stealthily as possible.

After stoping for a coffee, we returned to the Bozar and saw the exhibit. WOW!!!!!! It was so amazing. I was the coolest exhibit i've been to.

That night we had pizza at an Arab run place with very friendly staff, and then we went back to our hotel and showered and watched a French soap opera!

And then to cut a long story short, the next day (Sun,

21) Sarah and I decided to leave Brussels early for our respective cities, because we actually didn't like it that much and we were ready to be back. I took an early bus to Lille (because the trains still aren't running), only to find out that the train I'd booked at 6 was the only one. so I waited in the train station for 5 hours. I bought a book there and read it to stay occupied. Then I arrived back at Besancon just after 10:30pm totally exhausted and ready to hit the hay.

It was a trip that was full of challenges and twists and turns, but over all I learned a lot, had a lot of priceless experiences, and above all had fun!

Additional photos below
Photos: 22, Displayed: 22



view from the top!

view from the top--catherdral

Obama statue in chocolate at the chocolate museum

Brussels: our hotel!

main square

Cathedral of Saint Michael

park by the Royal Palace

24th February 2010

Chère Ashley, Même si je ne laisse pas beaucoup de commentaires, je viens souvent sur ton blog pour voir si tu as ajouté un article! Ton blog est vraiment excellent! Je suis contente de voir que tout se passe bien pour toi. Tu as raison d'en profiter un maximum, le temps passe si vite!
28th February 2010

cou cou cherie! ca me rend tres contente de l'entendre :) j'aime bien d'ecrire beaucoup et quelquefois je me demande si c'est trop d'etre interessant aux autres, pense de toi et notre prochaine rendevous a Paris en mai! bisous!
21st March 2010

OMG what a great adventure you are having! I am so proud of you. keep blogging we want to live through you vicareously.

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