After seeing most of Brussels yesterday, we decided to take a day trip to Bruges today. We had a quick breakfast at the B&B and headed back toward the train station. An hour later (after learning how to read the timetable boards) we arrived in Bruges.

Bruges is way more touristy than Brussels, so to start with we just followed the sea of humanity headed towards the center of town. Along the way we found a myriad of cozy doors tucked into old houses, and what was claimed to be the best hot chocolate ever. (We of course had to try it, and yes it was spectacular)

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After wandering around a bit around an old church and convent/hospital, we high tailed back the visitor center with the hopes of finding a walking tour.

Unfortunately, there are no walking tours on weekdays, but we were pointed towards some boat tours. There are a number of canals that run through the center of Bruges, and the water level is maintained with a series of locks separating them from the surrounding canal which sits about a meter higher. Our tour guide proceeded to give our tour in three different languages, pointing out key buildings and taking the time to chuckle at a delivery truck that had gotten stuck trying to make a very tight corner at the edge of two canals.

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We learned on the boat tour that the belfry at the town hall was open for the public to climb, so we headed straight there to tackle the 366 steps to the top. It was quite the climb, with steep stairwells that were regularly just wide enough for one person to walk up – yet people had to go up and down the same set. On the way up we got to stop and watch the mechanism for the carillon work – it’s basically just a big (no, giant!) music box, with a drum that has legs on it to pull cords and ring the bells. We then stood under the bells while they were chiming, which was cool but extremely loud.

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Walking up all the steps got us hungry, so we sought out a traditional Flemish dinner. At Poules Moules, we got the biggest pot of mussels I’ve ever seen along with a few dipping sauces, and the incredibly misnamed and under-advertised “Flemish Fishpan” which ended up being a delicious cheesy stew of seafood.

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For dessert we high tailed it to a waffle vendor, who sold us a fresh waffle with chocolate sauce and fresh strawberries. Yum!

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We then wandered off toward some windmills on the edge of the city center.

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We then dragged our sore legs to the train station (stopping to see a couple random things en route) and slept most of the way back to Brussels!

And since I couldn’t work them into the rest of the post, here’s a couple more pics from Bruges:

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On to Heidelberg!