Thought I’d just write a little about the places I’ve visited. Can’t remember what happened down to the little details but I’ll just revisit the highlights of every stop.
We left Schiphol, Amsterdam almost immediately upon touching down. Collected the car and it took us about three hours before we hit the outskirts of the city of Brugge. The characteristic brick houses came into view as my dad navigated the stationwagon through the narrow cobblestone streets. It took us a while to find parking because there was none outside our hotel and the public parking spaces were mostly taken up. For such a small city like Brugge, which had to retain their centuries-old architecture and layout, it had difficulty accomodating modern lifestyles. They could only dig deep for an underground carpark. But that’s the beauty of it all. The charming brick facades, flowers that spring up in every corner, cafe canopies draped above huge glass windows, alfresco tables and that lovely canal make for a complete picturesque town. There weren’t other obtrusive buildings or architecture that destroyed the look except for the controversial contemporary concert hall in the city centre, which was the talk of the town when Brugge was trying to obtain the heritage city status.
I’m glad the sun was hanging high up in the sky and it had been so breezy that day, because it was the perfect time to hop on the cruise and explore Brugge via its canals, which run like veins across the entire city. Everything was basked in a nice warm glow. The guide spoke about little snippets of the city’s history as we passed by a particular monument or building.
There was this really interesting story about swans as well – why the city council allowed for these graceful things to be swimming freely in the canals. There is apparently regular maintenance and welfare for these swans too. It was said that long ago, the monarch of Brugge (I forgot who’s that) had this friend whose name literally meant ‘long-necked’, and if I’m not wrong was martyred or something. So to commemorate his sacrifice, the monarch let the swans roam, because they’re long-necked. And probably because they make the place look happy and nice.
It got a bit challenging to find our way around because of the numerous small roads and the place wasn’t really designed in an organised grid system. My sis became the topo queen and so that just solved everything. Haha I’m a terrible sister. I just stood around taking photos while waiting for her to figure our location. Mobile GPS.
On the second day we visited museums – the Frietmuseum (Fries) and the Chocolate Story. The history of these two very important food retold in videos, interactive walk-throughs and of course, the partaking in the eating of the food. French fries were named such because Belgians speak French and during the world war, Americans mistook the french-speaking Belgian soldiers who introduced them the slices of potato fried in animal fat for the French. Chocolate story housed a number of rooms, each themed differently – history of chocolates, origins of cocoa, how chocolate’s made and even the evolution of packaging! After all that, we embarked on a short walking tour around the city, an alternative, but not so authentic, way of exploring Brugge.
I particularly loved the feeling of walking along those quiet streets though, the entire place was so prettily quaint. An occasional cyclist breezed past, sometimes you could hear heels clicking on the pavements, other times there was just the rustling sound of the wind. It was my favourite destination of the entire trip.