Oh, by the way, in case you've ever considered doing this, the WORST thing you could ever say to someone who's just sat down in a dentist's chair is "Now you do know in The Netherlands they don't use anaesthesia when they drill, don't you?". Ha Ha Ha. Very funny - I thought. But Dorine was deadly serious. Then she saw my face and got the nervous giggles. As I prepared to kill her. Slowly.
I forgot to mention yesterday that the reason I could actually eat the Flammkuchen at lunchtime was that dentists in The Netherlands don't use anaesthesia when they drill. So no numbness or drooling, but plenty of pain. The upside is that I am now free to eat my way around Europe without jumping out of my chair weirdly every time I bite the wrong way. And eat we have! I've always felt the best way to travel is to choose somewhere great to eat and then organise the day around that. Today we set off with Dorine to the Belgian town of Bruges, which I might say was fairly deserted. Maybe it was because of all the rain lately? I felt sorry for all the
shopkeepers and tour operators who rely on tourists.
Frank, the self-proclaimed "Tin-ass" found us the perfect, free, parking spot right at one of the gates to the old city which gave us permission to splurge at lunch. Dorine had booked a great restaurant right on the canal opposite the place where our boat cruise started, and we ate the 'menu' special, which was delicious. The canal tour was great, and our captain very funny - luckily he spoke great English so that we could understand his jokes. Frank enjoyed seeing the beautiful hotel which featured in the movie "In Bruges". I have never quite made it to the end of that movie - too violent for me, but I did recognise the hotel. We were ready for a walk after getting off the boat and decided to climb the belfort of the old 'kerk' (church) - worth the 366 steps for the view. The old city of Bruges is surrounded by a large canal which must have acted as a very effective moat, and there are 3 or 4 "city gates" through which you can enter the town. It actually made me feel a little claustrophobic. You could theoretically
be shut IN if they were closed for any reason! After getting over that feeling fairly quickly, I began to enjoy the different architecture and the beautiful colours of the town. Markt square was particularly gorgeous, and the market stalls were still set up when we arrived around lunch time. There was a horse and cart which passed us regularly, carrying families and lovebirds alike, and it added to the old world feel of the place. I've been nearly skittled by bikes several times since arriving in The Netherlands, but Dorine is always on the lookout. It is very hard to tell what is a road, what is a footpath and what is a bike path when in actual fact the street is all three and you are just supposed to be on alert and get out of the way when necessary!
What struck me most about Bruges was the number of chocolate shops! They were almost every second shopfront, and although I'm sure it doesn't all taste the same, there were certain similarities. We loved the amazing chocolate made to look like rusty tools, nuts and bolts, and the beautifully coloured fruit jellies. We indulged in a few
sweet treats to take home and I found a small birthday gift for Isabel in one of the little boutiques that we were able to post home so that it arrives in time for her birthday. Can't say what in case it spoils the surprise!
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