October 11, 2010

B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L Bruges (Part 1 of 4)....

It's a sunny morning in Holland, a rarity and maybe a result of Slim and I bringing back some sunshine from b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l Bruges.

The trip went great - I'll draw out the story (as a story teller usually does) into three segments that are full of delicious bites and great sights.


FRIDAY or  
VRIJDAG in Dutch/Flemish

Our trip got started a little late as I, "the great rememberer"  forgot something at the apartment.  If I could only get the whole, "make a list" concept down that my mom always preached to me about maybe I would loose the title for most number of things forgotten when vital to remember. :) 

The only down part about this little side trip back into the city was that we had (not thinking in our current statuts as slaves to public transport every day) brought all of our luggage with us to work.  In hindsight this was only necessary if we were flying or taking a train, and meant we got to drag around our bags, on - bikes, trains, and the sidewalk on the 40 minute commute to work and then on - the sidewalk, train, and a cab on the 40 minute commute to the car rental station. 

The up-part about carrying an extra load around the Dutch streets was that we got a nice workout before consuming literally 1000's of calories in beautiful Bruges.
Hertz was the rental company of choice, and we had no problems renting - with the weekend cost for the car only being 65 Euros, or 90 US Dollars + Gas $.  After looking out the window of the rental company and drooling over a sweet looking VW sports car,  we were informed that our chariot for the weekend would instead be a hysterical looking White Fiat Panda.


Lemme tell ya, the Panda Mobile, she was one mean machine.
But in all seriousness we saved some serious dollars on gas mileage with this little number.


We hit the road running around 7pm - Slim the navigator with the GPS, me behind the wheel for this leg of the trip.
  
Heading through Antwerp, Belgium the ride turned out to be only a short 2.25 - 2.5 hours, and the roads were relatively easy to follow.  Except for when we noticed that, in what would in both the U.S. and Australia be a two laned road, there existed this bizzare middle lane where traffic from either side could pass in Belgium!  All we could think was - that is an accident waiting to happen - but you never know, maybe it is in reality a safer system.

Once we hit Bruges, Beligum it was a serious pain in the neck to find parking!  I fell short on my driving skills here, several times turning down the wrong street and having to reverse back (opps!) - or completely missing a street which meant we had to do a massive 20 minute loop around the mid-evil city to get back to where we needed to be.  Not a fun thing to do after a long day of working and driving. 

A big thanks goes out to Slim for being so patient during my moments of inept driving (although I insisted it was partially his responsibility as "the navigator" ;) ).

After finally finding a free parking space, only to realize we would have to be up a 9am to move the car (something neither of us wanted to do on our relaxing vacation), we decided to just have the hotel valet the Panda Mobile - which was outrageously expensive but probably worth it in the end.

The hotel we stayed at was the Hotel Heritage:



The concierge staff was super nice, and brought our bags to our room which was very much appreciated.  The hotel itself was also very beautiful - but had some memorable moments.  More photos of the hotel to come in installment numero dos and tres of this epic adventure.

 After dropping our stuff off we decided to head out and grab a very late dinner (at this point it was circa 10pm).  Neither of us were too hungry, and the only options around our hotel seemed to be full on dinner servings - so we opted for a delicious dinner of fresh Belgium Leffe Bruin and peanuts at a pub with a beautiful view of the Market Square.

Leffe Bruin

Leffe Brown is an authentic abbey beer that has a delicate flavor of vanilla and cloves, and a full aroma of toffee and caramel. This deep, brown beer is perfect in autumn because of it's dark-roasted malt. Leffe Brown contains 6.5% alcohol and suits spicy, savory and sweet dishes or appetizers such as foie gras on toast. 



One liter of fresh Leffe Bruin a piece, two dishes of salted bar peanuts later and we were full.  The bar was closing and it was time for us to "have a lay down" as Slim puts it so we could be up bright and early (before 1pm) to take on the day in beautiful Bruges.

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