A Travellerspoint blog

Belgium

Last day in Bruge

11 October 2010

sunny 45 °F

Bell tower

Bell tower


Today is our last day on this trip but we have a few things to do first. The belfry opens at 0930 and we are there waiting when the door opens. We pay 8 euros each and climb 366 steps to the top of the bell tower.
belfry view

belfry view


Here you can get beautiful views over the town of Bruge.
Belfry View #2

Belfry View #2


Half of it is closed so it doesn’t take toolong to snap a few photos and make our way back down.
Basilica of the Holy Blood

Basilica of the Holy Blood


Last but not least was the Basilica of the Holy Blood. Supposedly a bit of Jesus’ blood was brought back to Bruge by a soldier and has been kept in this basilica since. Every year on Acessions Day they take out the sample in a fancy carrier and parade it around town. Otherwise it is kept in this basilica and you can’t see it. There is a museum where you can view the carrier.
Back to work sculpture

Back to work sculpture


Reluctantly we left Bruge to drive home for work tomorrow. This sculpture says it all!
us by canal

us by canal


Bye Bye Bruge!

Posted by ErinDriver 11:54 Archived in Belgium Comments (0)

Brussels Half Marathon on 10-10-10

10 October 2010

sunny 50 °F

canal along our street

canal along our street


On 10 October 2010 Curt and I woke up and walked the 15 minute walk (actually 30 minutes) to the train station to catch our train to Brussels for the half marathon that started at 1000.
boats on way to train station

boats on way to train station


The trains run between bruge and Brussels twice per hour but we missed the train we were shooting for and had to take one that left at 0900. This put us to Brussels at 1000 (race starts at 1030). When we stepped out of the train in central station we saw someone with a race number who looked like he knew what he was doing so we shuffled after him to the metro. Five metro stops later we arrived at the start!! I was skeptical but we had just enough time to adjust our gear before the start.
start of Brussels half marathon

start of Brussels half marathon


This marathon is through the city so outside of buildings there wasn’t a whole lot of scenery. They also had water bottles instead of cups so we ended up carrying one for the duration. The ridiculous part of this run was that the marathon runners started 1.5 hours prior and the courses came together with about 4 miles to go. This was very unfortunate for the marathoners who in the final miles had to swerve around slower half runners.
The run ended up being long at 13.34 but we still did a respectable 2:08. The finish was a disaster. It ended in a beautiful plaza but it wasn’t big enough for thousands of runners and their fans. We inched our way through medals, water, foil blankets and chip turn in. The changing area was about 1 mile away and we didn’t get away from the crowd until then. We were glad to have the one hour train ride back to Bruge to stretch and rest our eyes.
Curt with dragon bench

Curt with dragon bench


After careful thought we decided the spaghetti we had yesterday was too good and cheap to pass up. The restaurants here are very expensive. We went for the small portion today though :)
Market square with horses

Market square with horses


On the way back home to rest we passed horses waiting to give rides around town.

Posted by ErinDriver 11:50 Archived in Belgium Comments (0)

Touring Bruge

9 October 2010

sunny 60 °F

view from our B&B

view from our B&B


Our wake up was 2 hours after we intended this morning so we had our breakfast before heading off on our run. Because we are training for craziness in Orlando in January we can’t skip this. The morning is VERY foggy and the canal is hard to even see. Somehow it made the run even more enchanting.
running trail

running trail


There is a trail along the canal all the way to another town called Damme.
damme paddleboat

damme paddleboat


We didn’t make it that far but we did pass four windmills and a paddlewheel boat coming from Damme.
street in bruge

street in bruge


The street reminded me of where you might find Jack the Ripper.
Market square

Market square


After a shower we set off to the center of town or Market Square. IT is ringed with restaurants and shops. Unfortunatley today in the center is a big stage and lots of sound equipment. It wasn’t a great time to get a view from the bell tower so lunch was in order. Due to the run tomorrow and because we can be cheap we took a suggestion from Rick Steves and ate at Medard Brasserie.
Grande portion of spaghetti

Grande portion of spaghetti


You get a GIGANTIC plate of homemade spaghetti for 5.50 euro. And food here is very expensive. We strolled down the shopping street which was very crowded now that the weather got warmer.
postcard view of canal

postcard view of canal


Next up was a boat ride along the canal. There are several vendors that will pack you on to a boat and drive you up and down the canal for 30 minutes.
dog along the canal

dog along the canal


The best thing we saw was this dog sticking his head out the window watching the boats go by.
canal houses

canal houses


We passed a flea market that we walked through and scored a black elephant tea pot!
Belgian beers with matching glasses

Belgian beers with matching glasses


You can’t go to Belgium and not enjoy the beer – they have hundreds of kinds. The shop 2Be had hundreds of beers all with the glass that matches. The Brugse Zot beer is the only remaining kind still brewed in Bruge. The store has a patio where you can sit and enjoy their brew. We took this opportunity to have the Zot and cherry beer.
Our Belgian beer

Our Belgian beer


Our first dinner option had no open tables so we went to De Gastro which is the restaurant owned by the sisters that run our B&B. The meal was amazing and the restaurant has a good atmosphere with black and red interior. Since we are in Belgium we started with mussels. Next for me was grilled salmon and potato croquettes. Curt had Flemish stew and fries. We finished it off with tiramisu and crème caramel with dessert wine. In the end we didn’t feel like we missed out, in fact we got lucky!

Posted by ErinDriver 11:45 Archived in Belgium Comments (0)

Driving to Bruge

8 October 2010

sunny 55 °F

Bruge canal

Bruge canal


Today was a long day of driving in the car but worth it in the end to get to the gem of a town called Bruge, Belgium. First we drove 2.5 hours to Ramstein to have American food (Macaroni Grill) and shopping (PX) at the Air Force Base. After waiting 20 minutes in the line to get gas we were off on another 3 hour stint to Brussels.
I’m sure Curt would like to ban me from the internet because earlier this week I had found that Brussels is having a marathon and half marathon this weekend. So we stopped in Brussels at 1730 on Friday night (not a smart idea) to register for the race. The registration was inside the Royal Military Academy which was a tiny bit intimidating but the expo was one of the worst I have seen. It had about 4 vendors and fit inside one hallway. It was lucky I guess because we still weren’t to our final destination.
Another one hour that ended up being more like two thanks to traffic and we were parking at the train station in Bruge. Buses come to give you a free ride to the center however the number we were told to look for 6 and 16 turned out to be 92. We didn’t waste too much time before Curt asked the bus driver and we were dropped off at the fish market.
Because we were coming late we went to the restaurant of our B&B owner so they could give us directions. The Canal House B&B is adorable and we have a studio room. We quickly dropped our bags and went to dinner along the canal. I had shrimp croquettes and curt had mixed grill with cherry beer.
Spider at dinner

Spider at dinner


This spider was my dining companian - He reminded me that it is Halloween time!

Posted by ErinDriver 11:42 Archived in Belgium Comments (0)

WhirlWind Tour of Europe

1 November 2009

overcast 50 °F

This morning I had in mind to hit the park with the Atomium and Mini-Europe.
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We got there at opening time but decided not to go to the top of the Atom. It was built for a worlds fair and you can take an elevator to the top circle. It was advertised as claustrophic and there was a line so we skipped that tour.
Before touring Europe we stopped to have a waffle for breakfast.
Mini-Europe is a collection of 350 miniature models of the most famous sites in Europe. They are 1:25 size and very realistic.
In a about 2 hours we visited.....
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Copenhagen, Denmark,
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Big Ben and Parliament in London,
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The Arc de Triumph in Paris,
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a Bull Ring in Spain,
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Gondolas in Venice,
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the Berlin Wall,
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the astronomical clock in Praque,
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and I got a better photo of the parthenon than I actually got in Athens.
Brussels is heavy on business as the center of the EU and the NATO headquarters but was still a fun weekend away.

Posted by ErinDriver 11:46 Archived in Belgium Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

An Eating Tour of Brussels

31 Oct 2009

overcast 50 °F

brussels_034.jpg
Happy Halloween from Brussels, Belgium.
Brussels is about 6 hours from home so we left Friday night, hit the new PX in Ramstein and the Macaroni Grill. I had trouble reserving a room there so we ended up going to Spangdalem Air Base for the night. We arrived in Brussels by 1230 today and found our place, Hotel Bloom. It was a very modern and nice hotel for only 70 euros per night. It was a 20 minute walk from the center of town and that happened to be down a shopping street :)
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Our first purchase was Belgian chocolate. They are so into their Mannequin Pis that they have him in all different flavored chocolate. They also had chocolate potato chips like Pringles that we had to try.
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Grand Place is the center of town with the Town Hall, restaurants and a flower market. We sat here and had one of those famous Belgian Beers. Eventually we wanted to see what the hype was with this little mannequin of a boy peeing so we headed that way.
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On the way we passed a The Waffle Factory and got another Belgian Specialty. Our waffles were piled high with strawberries, chocolate and banana. We hit some lace and tapestry shops which are famous in Brussels.
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Eventually we came upon a crowd on the street and saw what we had been waiting for....the Mannequin Pis. All the assessments were right - he is disappointing.
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This little mannequin had been given over 700 outfits by various countries so I was excited to see what he would be wearing. I was sad to find out it was ....nothing! Because of this we decided to go to the museum in the Kings House to see the outfits on display there. It was hilarious to see the costumes he has worn including an Elvis Pisley suit donated by the US.
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After this we headed to the comic strip museum because my beloved Smurfs are from Belgium. As it turned out they didn't play that much of part in the museum.
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Tin Tin seems to be famous with the Belgians and the museum went thru the making of comics.
brussels_053.jpg
When we finally got to the Smurfs they had a poster with all 100 listed - however no Female Smurf. They also showed a little model of their house, hefty's work out equipment and what I think is Gargumels Cookbook calling for a few Smurfs!
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For dinner we had the famous mussels in Brussels at Chez Leon. It is a bit of a touristy place but along the restaurant Row it was the busiest. They crank out tons of pots of steamed mussels.
After all the walking we did today we were exhausted and headed to the beautiful room in Hotel Bloom.

Posted by ErinDriver 11:05 Archived in Belgium Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Tongeren Antique market

8 February 2009

overcast 41 °F

The market didn’t seem to start quite as early as 0600 but they were in the process of setting up. We bought an old sled with a painting on the front from a woman before she was even set up. It was from France about 1830’s.
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The market is set up in a gym, on floor of a parking garage, and up and down lots of streets. We seemed to like a lot of stuff from france. We scored with a buffet from Belgium. The timeframe can’t be nailed down but it was made somewhere between 1875 and 1915. We plan to use it as a bar. We also found a lamp table that matched the design of the buffet. We did pretty well and had fun bargaining…yes, mom – I did!
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We have to go back in 8 weeks to pick up our furniture (oh darn) so we left for home with a relatively empty car.

Posted by ErinDriver 10:27 Archived in Belgium Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Furniture Shopping in Belgium

7 February 2009

overcast 30 °F

For this weekend Curt and I decided to finally order some furniture we saw at a Bazaar in Ramstein. The furniture store was in Belgium so we made the 4 hour drive across another border to St. Vith, Belgium. The store is called MK Mobel Drings-Maraite and has 60,000 square feet of furniture. We ordered some stuff for the living room and were served tea and little tiny éclairs. The store does a good business with the military based on the English speaking people with short hair cuts shopping around next to us. The good news was even though they were in Belgium they still took the VAT form. Maybe they are close enough to the German border that it doesn’t matter ?? (about 1 hour)
Next stop was another hour away at Tongeren, Belgium. It is supposed to be one of the oldest towns in Belgium and holds one of the biggest antique markets in Europe every Sunday. Start time for the market is 0600 so it was recommended to get their the night before.
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The town is much bigger than I expected with a long shopping street and a beautiful cathedral. We shopped and had dinner with of course waffles for dessert. The other must in Belgium is to try some of their many beers. A bunch were tried but the best was the blueberry beer! It was fabulous with the waffles.

Posted by ErinDriver 10:25 Archived in Belgium Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

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