This past week ended up being a strange one for me. Frustrating even, but for strange reasons. Mainly, I spent too long in Bruges.
Some aspects of this are easy to identify: very uncomfortable beds (and I’m hardly picky) to the soundtrack of debaucherous drunkards setting off the fire alarm or having sex in a room full of twenty people. I’m not sure if that or the Irish guy puking below me in Buenos Aires was a more awkward experience. As a result, a lack of sleep certainly played into my impressions.
Fatigue naturally evolved into frustration. Every time I ventured into the town, having to literally elbow through dense throngs of umbrella tours to get anywhere. I try not to judge other travel styles, but these felt pretty out of hand, especially with people stopping in the most inconvenient spots. Most of these folks, of many nationalities, fulfilled that tourist stereotype that is very easy to poke fun at (read: they were rude).
As a result, most parts of the town catered to this crowd: overpriced, mediocre meals and tacky souvenirs during the day. Everything appeared to wrap up by 7pm. Though, like the romance of a dorm room, to each his own, I suppose.
But once those major crowds dispersed Bruges’ charm came out. It really is a beautiful city with some neat little gems to discover. My favorite happened to be De Garre, tucked into the city’s narrowest alley, serving tasty gouda cubes with every glass of its aptly named “Garre” beer. Particularly exciting about this was that one can only drink it in that bar. And it’s delicious.
|This was the end of my second, so I tried getting artsy. Did I mention they’re 12%abv?|
After a couple of those I searched a night shop for a recommended bottle, but came away with this instead:
|Speculoos is just… Wonderful in every way|
Some Belgians just outside the store popped the top for me, and I wandered the canals reveling in the glory of having discovered the marriage of two of my favorite things.
During the day, there are also some great places to hang out. Most notable are the parks, where the largest group I encountered was but four people strong. These provided beautiful, quiet retreats from the masses. It was in one of these that I picnicked, eating a massive chicken breast with my hands after buying it from the market. One of the best chickens I’ve eaten.
|I didn’t photograph the chicken, but I ate it next to these flowers|
Of course, despite finding these charms, I was ready to leave Bruges by the time I could move on (improvised lodging is already getting very difficult). I then moved to Brussels, where I’m quite enjoying the grit and relaxed chaos of the city center.
|Not to mention the intense statues|
|Juxtaposed old and new|
|In front of the Finance Tower. Money is sexy, I suppose?|
The most important part of my stay here, though, is the hostel. It stands in stark contrast to the last one, with only 19 guests and some of the comfiest beds I’ve slept in. Best of all: hostel dog!
|Automatically awesome place|