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Published: September 30th 2017
Tin Tin - one of the many famous Belgian cartoon characters.
Geo: 51.1693, 3.34704
Didn't sleep well again - must be depression over going home soon! So to make up for it, I of course had to stuff myself at breakfast. Some decent stuff - spicy ham (a little fatty) and lots of OJ. They had some crappy fruitcake - but with a little Nutella it actually tasted pretty good!
Off for a walk - there are four windmills along a canal on the edge of the historic zone. It's a funny thing - running alongside the windmills is a freeway. The juxtaposition of modern and traditional elements ... it's a striking snapshot of time. A reminder of how much the world has, and will continue to change. Some things may remain constant but everything around it will always be in a state of flux. It's a unique and memorable experience to sit here and take it all in.
Obviously the traffic on the freeway took away some of the magic of the moment, but still - it's at times like this where you realize how wonderful it is to be able to live your dreams and do the things that you have always wanted to do. There's nothing better!
As I walked to the Markt Square this morning I noticed that it had a hazy, almost other-worldly feel to it. I thought that it was magical and spectacular ... until I realized that the haze was generated by this street sweeper!
to the Jeruzalem Church - it wasn't open yet so I sat outside and ate chocolates until it did (but only to kill time, not because I wanted to!). When they finally opened I saw that there was an admission fee - no thanks! Over to the Burg to finish off the sights that were closed yesterday. Both the Town Hall and the Basilica of the Holy Blood were nothing terribly exciting for me, but I could see the Basilica being a pretty important pilgrimage for many, because it holds a supposed vial of Christ's blood.
The Dumon chocolate shop - a bit of a pilgrimage for me because it supposedly has incredible chocolate ganache and chocophiles flock there for it. It was good, but no better than the other great chocolate I've eaten in Belgium during this trip.
I grabbed a corn dog sort of thing for lunch - it was more like fried sausage roll filling in a light batter. Not bad, not great, but it was cheap food! I did some shopping - as I went to try on some clothes a couple walked out of a changing room together. A changing room quickie, I
What's a statue of Kim Jong-Il doing in Bruges? But this statue looks more like the version from "Team America: World Police" than the real version. The real version is more comical looking!
guess! But I wasn't as fortunate as that guy - I only ended up with a handful of clothing upon leaving that change room. And I definitely didn't have as big of a smile on my face as he did!!!
As I returned to the hostel I ran into a lost Mexican family and gave them some directions. Any excuse to practice my Spanish! After, I quickly changed into flip flops and some of the new clothes I had bought (a non-black shirt and nice light cargo pants - yes!!!) and went off to the Straffe Hendrik brewery tour.
I've never been to a brewery before so it was pretty cool. It was a good deal at 5 Euros when you factor in the included beer at the end. The tour guide was very good - knowing I was from Calgary she asked me if I noticed the Grasshopper and Big Rock beer cans on display.
I stopped by the Begijnhof on the way to the train station. Its courtyard is kind of neat - very tranquil, but it was nothing special. Still, it's a worth a quick visit. Off to Ostend and its beaches. I expected it
A very artistic and stylistic photo. I call it "My Future Dinner".
to be very hot since Bruges was very warm, but I brought a hoodie anyway. It's a good thing because it was very windy and cool in certain areas.
I grabbed a crappy hot dog bun and sat at the church square for a moment. Then I walked along the seaside promenade and had a snack. Ostend is definitely not the nicest seaside resort town I've been to - it's got a gritty feel to it but still provided a nice contrast to the rest of the trip.
I sat on the beach for a while - there were lots of broken sea shells in the sand but it was still better quality sand than I expected. Afterward I walked along a busy pedestrian shopping street and then chilled on a square. I wouldn't come back to Ostend again but it was definitely worth stopping here once.
Back to Bruges and a walk through Minnewater Park. Very cool - drinking my last can of Maes for this trip and strolling through this serene place. A few other people were out enjoying the beautiful weather - lying on the grass, playing Frisbee. The guys weren't actually throwing the Frisbee;
Japanese art students doing their thing along a typical picturesque Bruges canal.
rather they were bouncing it off the ground.
I walked around town and had a waffle with Nutella ... mmmmm ....it was almost dinnertime but I couldn't resist. A nice friendly girl named Gwendolen served me my waffle - she was very chatty and kinda cute, but my interest waned when I heard some mention of high school. I think she may have misspoken because she appeared to be near her mid-20s - but I've been famously wrong for misjudging European women's ages before!
Back to the hostel to change - I had brought some dress shirts to Europe thinking that it would be cool enough to wear them. It hasn't been cool enough, but I figured that I should wear them at least once! I popped by the waffle stand for a restaurant recommendation - Gwendolen suggested a cheap Italian place.
I wasn't really in the mood for it but I figured I should listen to the local - I didn't want a repeat of last night's meal. They served me some crappy bread to start - zero flavour and kind of stale. I tried the Kriek cherry beer - tasted a little like cough syrup mixed
Postcard-quality, without even trying!
with Sprite! It's the Belgian equivalent of the "Flaming Moe" of "The Simpsons" fame!
Caprese salad - good, as always! Tortellini with a 4-cheese sauce - it was reminiscent of the phlegm sauce I had in Palermo (see Euro 2006 blog entitled - "A culinary delight - cannelloni with phlegm sauce!"😉 It was served with some shredded cheese on the side - I'm not sure what it was, but it definitely wasn't parmesan. Definitely not the best pasta I've ever had.
I momentarily crapped my pants - I thought I lost my journal! It's the one item I can't afford to lose. Luckily I found it underneath some assorted crap that was lying on the table. I grabbed a second beer - this time a Straffe Hendrik. Not too shabby.
Not a great meal, but definitely good value. They do a really good takeout business here with students - takeout pastas from 2.7 Euros. But it's much more expensive to dine in. The other day I saw many people eating out of conical takeout containers - I thought it was frites but it turns out that it was from this pasta place.
Dessert was an excellent
One of the 4 windmills in Bruges.
tiramisu. It tasted even better because of the great atmosphere on this street. Lots of pedestrian traffic (complete with Belgian eye candy) and music blaring from a nearby restaurant. Though the restaurant was closed, a bunch of friends and neighbours were having a little get-together. "If you don't know me by now" was playing - haven't heard that in ages! Some crappy Dolly Parton song was playing - knowing that I was Canadian the people in the other restaurant asked me if it was Celine Dion!
A perfect way to end my last night in Belgium. I wanted to walk but first needed to return to the hostel for my jacket (it was a chilly night!). I considered going for another waffle but was too full. Sigh ... off to London tomorrow.
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