This town's name is probably derived from the Dutch words bruggehoofd or brug meaning bridgehead or bridge. It has many little bridges over canals, so that makes sense. The Middle (or medieval) Ages period lasted from the 5th to 15th century. Brugge received its city charter in 1150. Much of its architecture is from that time.
The town name is spelled and pronounced several different ways-- either Brugge or Bruges and using a soft (French version) or hard (German version) "g." The train station in Bruges is named Station Brugge located on Bruges Street. Google maps and Wikipedia show Bruges. Our Eurail ticket says Brugge. Its even spelled both ways on its info website: www.bezoekers.brugge.be/museums-and-places-of-interest I'm so confused ...
Slept well. Got up natural (meaning no alarm). Showered, shaved and down to breakfast. It was a formal setting in a chandeliered room with fireplace, lace table cloths, fine art on the walls, a lovely centerpiece of roses, and "minuet" music in the background. Très élégant!
The food fare was about the same as Nice with the addition of scrambled eggs and little hot sausages, just presented more ornately.
The coffee machine worked similarly to Nice, but it was made of shiny silver instead of brown plastic. May be our mind-bending imagination, but it tasted way better here. Another extra special thing was that the hotel owners made their croissants from scratch daily in the original hotel kitchen.
This morning we had chores. To get our bearings, we started down the street to the town square about four blocks away. We didn't know it but Wednesday was market day. The whole square was filled with tents filled with amazing produce, breads, meats, flowers, and more.
Our first chore was to be a drug store, so we decided to continue on and linger longer here on the way back. Somewhere along the line I had gotten some insect bites around my ankles. I am quite sensitive to bug bites, so they were more than itchy and swollen.
I had been using cortisone cream which I brought with, but needed Benadryl or some other anti-allergy pills. Not much further away we found an open pharmacy. The pharmacist said they didn't have Benadryl, but something similar and was happy to provide it. Yay! The medication was quite helpful and cleared things up in a couple of days.
We continued on to the Brugge train station, as we had a few questions about our ticket. It was quite a walk, but we really enjoyed seeing the side streets, houses, shops, and parks that we passed through. One had to make sure you were not walking on the bike paths though, as this is considered quite touristy and a no-no. You usually got loudly bike-belled out of the way.
The station was newer and not as classical in style as the ones we had seen in France. We discovered it was built in 1939. We loved that it had brightly colored recycle bins. Hard to miss or mis-use them. We had a short wait at the service window. All our questions were answered and our affairs in order. Chore number two complete.
Our last stop was an Apple authorized store. Streets were deceptively winding, but with our trusty town map we found it. It was a last ditch effort to get our iPhone usable and iPad hooked-up to the Internet so we could blog as we went along. We had added the "free" Eurail SIM card to the phone, but it had not fired up. The agent was able to get it working, so we at last were able to send some text messages.
We needed another SIM card for the iPad and the young man directed us to a spot a few blocks away for that. When we got there, they said they could fix us up but that SIM would only work in Belgium. We would need a different SIM card or set-up in each country. Hmmm! That did not work for us, so we just resigned ourselves to the fact that we would blog all when we got back home.
Back to the Grote Markt square. The sights, smells, sounds, colors were intoxicating. Mike bought a bag of fresh figs. I chose a chunk of white chocolate. We also got tins of mixed Belgium chocolates for Bella's cat sitters. Chocolates came in every size and shape. I was particularly fascinated by these that looked like old rusted tools.
There were horse drawn buggies and bicyclers everywhere. You learned to watch your step quickly and figure out where the "bike lanes" were. A few cars and trucks were mixed in for good measure.
There were also lots of street musicians and artists. One was the type that appeared to stack three people straight up. They stayed very still and looked like a statue. Not sure how they did it, but the bottom two guys were guys and the top guy was actually a dummy. Still, pretty clever and earned a Euro from us.
Lunch time, so we decided to walk away from the crowded market. We found a large outdoor cafe, Punta Est, next to a canal and plopped ourselves down. It was chilly but the sun was shining brightly to balance the temp. A pretty gal with head-to-toe tattoos was our waitress.
We ordered warm brie cheese on chunks of perfectly toasted French bread topped with diced apples. Wonderful. We topped it off with some Belgium sour cherry Lambic (or Kriek). It was a perfect match and was just enough to fill us up.
People watching here was great--students, young lovers, glitzy-richies, and regular folks like us. Just as we were leaving a couple passed by our table. He was wearing a Detroit Tiger cap, so I said, "Hi, Detroit." They stopped and we chatted a bit. Nice to hear English without an foreign accent.
Heading back to the hotel to drop off our purchases now. A group of school children on a field trip. Boats cruising the canal. Uneven cobblestone paving. Quaint little shops.
Brugge is nicknamed Venice of the North and we could see why. On our walk we crossed over a number of canals and the main part of the city is circled by a series of canals.
At the hotel we munched on a few figs and were ready to explore again.