Hallo from Bruges!
Well, it was a long haul and a few days of intermittent sleep (mostly lack thereof), but I'm here in my home base of Bruges and boy, was it ever worth the effort! The Venice of the North, as it's nicknamed, could out-charm just about any city I've been to. The medieval market squares. The cobblestone streets. The stepped gable rooflines. The peaceful canals. The candlelit restaurants. Even the drizzly, chilly weather has a mysterious mood all its own when the fog stealthily oozes into the alley ways. Let's just say I'm already concerned about my phone storage because I can't stop myself from taking pictures. And this is just one city!
If you saw the movie In Bruges (and by the way, the city credits that film for the last decade's boom in tourism), you might get the impression that Belgium is the ugly stepchild of some of its neighboring European nations. Weird though, right? I mean, who could have distain for a country known for its beer, chocolate, and waffles? I intend to get to the bottom of that but I have learned a few fun facts that are actually quite impressive. Belgians tend to be liberal thinkers; they legalized gay marriage in 2003. Belgium's people and land played a tremendous role in WWI. Belgium has three official languages: Dutch, French, and German. Not to mention the saxophone and "french" fries (called frites) were invented here!
And speaking of the latter, I've already put a dent into the region's biggest menu item: mussels and fries. A steaming pot of mussels (prepared in a variety of ways) paired with delicious fries and (dipping sauce of Belgian choice) mayo is literally on every restaurant's blackboard. On the contrary, I strongly doubt I will even come close to making a dent in the country's hundreds upon hundreds of uniquely brewed beers. Proost to trying!
Until then, I'm looking forward to seeing the transformation of spring here, what lies beyond Bruges, and a month of not flying over my bicycle's handlebars while traversing the cobblestones! Thank you for coming along!
My Bruges apartment...
...and new favorite cafe down the street, Blackbird
Bruges main market square
The revered swans of Bruges
Daffodils in bloom all around the city
Because I can't get enough of rows of colorful houses...
Just a short bike ride along a canal to the tiny countryside town of Damme