Wednesday, June 21, 2017

My Belgian birthday! Part four

Bill and I visited Bruges (or Brugge, if you prefer) back in September 2008.  I remember very clearly why we were on our first trip to Belgium.  He had been working hard on an exercise at EUCOM and was exhausted from the late nights and demands of his bosses.  Labor Day was coming up and he knew we'd have a long weekend.  So he sent me an email that read, "Darling, I think we should go to Belgium and see Mannekin Pis."

I could practically hear in my mind the edge to his voice.  Bill is usually a super laid back, easygoing guy.  But the demands of his job had put him in a foul mood.  I could tell.  So I found us a nice hotel in Brussels and we visited, traveling via first class on the Thalys train.  While we were in Brussels, we took a day trip to Bruges.

Bruges is a beautiful city, but it's generally packed with many tourists.  Such was the case on Sunday, when we visited again after an almost nine year absence (wow-- time flies!).  I figured things would be open in Bruges on Sunday and I was right!  After about a forty-five minute drive on a fine highway, we found ourselves in the quaint city.  Bill found a very convenient parking garage that actually won an award for being as awesome as it is.  It even has red and green lights to show which parking spots are open.  I was delighted to find a clean public restroom, even though we had to pay 40 cents each to use it.

As nice as the garage was, I can't say the same for the area just outside of it.  Apparently, extensive renovations are going on, so we ended up walking through a construction site that butted up to a row of restaurants and bars.  Once we got through that mess, we were in familiar territory.  We walked toward the train station to see if the restaurant where we had lunch the last time was still operating.  It was, and it smelled good-- in fact, we probably should have eaten there.  They have great Middle Eastern food.  But Bill wanted to go somewhere different.


Anyway... if you find yourself in Bruges and want something vegetarian or made with curry, De Stoelpa is a good bet.


It offers a good place for pictures, too...



I took this next to an art gallery that we didn't visit.  We probably should have gone in and checked out the art.  


But we went into the cathedral instead.  As usual, Bill was moved to tears.



Since it was Father's Day and my dad is now in the great beyond, I lit a candle for him.  I also unloaded a lot of loose change.

We wandered around the city for awhile in the hot sun until we came upon the "Little Venice of the North" area (seems like so many European cities have Little Venices).  Although I usually prefer to find places that are off the beaten track, it was hot and I was hungry.  And Jilles Beer & Burgers sounded like it was just the ticket.

We sat at a table right next to the window, which proved to be an excellent spot for people watching.  Jilles Beer & Burgers has all kinds of burgers-- everything from the usual beef burger to veggie burgers.  They also have a large beer list and beer pairings for their sandwiches.


Bill checks out the burgers.  He had some trouble deciding because there were several appealing choices.


This was the suggested brew for my choice.  I think it was called the Bacon Eli.  Basically, it was a bacon cheeseburger with a sauce that tasted Thai inspired.  It was sweet, spicy, and a little peanuty.


Not bad.  The frites came with mayo, but I was also happy to see a big bottle of ketchup on the table.


Although the label was a little odd.


Bill's burger... the name of it escapes me.  The burgers all came with side salads.  Frites were an extra three euros.  We shared an order and that was plenty!  I don't think we finished them.  


Beer for dessert!  This one was so good, we bought some to bring back to Germany.


Too bad I quit coloring my hair.  How would they know if the rug doesn't match the drapes?


A guy on a trike.  Little did we know it, but a bike race was scheduled... and we were at a great vantage point for watching.


I did get some film footage.  Maybe later, I'll upload it.

Below are more shots of Bruges.  It really is a beautiful city, although there were so many people there the other day.  I don't have the tolerance for crowds I once had.  But we did manage to find our way to a chocolatier.  All the while, Bill was quoting lines from the film In Bruges, which we discovered during our last time in Germany.


This is a pretty funny film, though it's not for the straightlaced.












Bill just before we bought a kilo of chocolates.  Hello!  Present for my ass!




The candle on the end was for my dad.  I'm not Catholic, but it seemed appropriate to light one for him.  Bill used to be Catholic (and Episcopalian, Methodist, and Mormon)...  He suggested it.  I think of all the religions he's tried, Catholicism speaks to him the loudest.  I have always been Presbyterian and have no urge to change, not that I go to church much anymore.  Incidentally, we were married by a Presbyterian minister whose parents immigrated to Canada from Scotland.  I recently reconnected with the minister who married us (and was my boss for awhile).  He's now Catholic and has changed careers!


I got a kick out of the award our parking garage won!  It's good to have goals.

When we got back to the house, the boys were waiting for us.



So was the couch and Belgian TV... and beer.  Actually, I think we ended up watching an Australian soap called Neighbors.  It was different!


Part five!



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