Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Day 2

Thursday 2nd June 2011 - Bruges By Day

I woke up to the smell of steamy hot coffee floating in on a woody breeze through the mesh of the half open tent door. Apparently I had slept in. I asked for my coffee and fell back to sleep still holding it. I then promptly poured it all over myself - this I felt must be included as it should be known how innately clumsy I am. After burning myself and giving the tent a sticky new flavour, it was time to check out the shower facilities at the camp. Camping Memling's shower facilities are free which is not the case at every camp site and were found to be more than satisfactory. It may be wise to mention however, that if you do plan on visiting this camp site, you should plan not to shower between 9am and 10am as you will find the showers either all occupied or the water may well already be cold.

We then packed a rucksack with two rain-jackets, a water bottle, camera and sunscreen - these are essentials for any day out in Europe - and begin our walk to the centre which is about 20 minutes away. On arrival we find that we have, without prior knowledge, stumbled upon Bruges lent festival. This turns out to be a superb spectacle with hundreds of participants in a parade that circles the entire city centre. The parade acts out Bible stories as well as showcasing young choirs of children dressed traditionally, young dancers, again in traditional dress waving flags as well as many other traditional skits and not forgetting the compulsory marching band. It is impossible to move around the city whilst the parade is in progress, if you don't look like you are inappropriately sniffing the hair of the person in front of you, then you are probably standing behind a child. It's worth the 'tinned sardine look' though as personally I have never seen a real live two humped camel wandering down a cobbled road carrying a man dressed like he's from the time of Christ shouting out Bible stories in Flemish, have you? My personal favourite however had to be the women in traditional dress, including the pointy hats and braids dancing in formation. Apparently, according to a free guide I picked up at the campsite, the most annoying thing you can say to a local is "why aren't you wearing you lace uniform?" and here I am not expecting anything of the sort and I get to see the whole traditional scene literally waltzing down the street. I say hats off to them - literally. So as you can probably imagine from my description I was giddy on the atmosphere, to say the least.

We then found a bar in the T.Zand area of Bruges where nearly all the bars have an option to sit outside. We chose a bar called Bras which was quite quiet with an incredibly tall man behind the bar. I do remember however that the actual bar itself was quite high and made me feel a little bit like I'd time-warped back to my youth again. Anyhow, we asked the tall man to pour us both something that is popular with the locals and he chose Westmalle which as we soon found out is 9.5% alcohol. This is a fact I researched later after finding myself go from giddy to downright skittish very quickly - beware of this beer travelers, if you're going to try it 'tapisser l'estomac' or 'carpet your stomach' as I was politely told by the very tall man after, not prior to drinking the very tasty but alcoholic beverage.

Suitably sloshed, it took nearly 2.5 hours to get home due to the crowds which was a little frustrating but honestly, its nearly impossible to become too stressed in this beautiful city. When we got back I feel I should disclose that as it had taken 2.5 hours to get home I didn't want to go to the shops so cooked up some savoury rice and threw in a whole can of corned beef on top of it. Granted, if you try this at home it does look suspiciously like dog food but trust me, if you are hungry and can get past the obvious problems of presentation, you will find it to be an unbelievably delicious meal.

This was our only full day in Bruges before we had to move on. I wont tell you how beautiful the Belfry is, or how magnificent the buildings are, I really cant do them justice. Everywhere you look in Bruges the scene that is reflected back at you is enough to make you blink twice. The canals are terrifically romantic, the walking routes, the buildings that rise out the trees like regal palaces are phenomenal. I can only recommend you come and see it for yourself.

More Photos Of Bruges >>

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