Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Bruges, Glorious Bruges

When Meems and I started telling people about going to Belgium, everyone who has ever been there flocked to us and said, "you MUST go to Bruges."  We'd been thinking of using our one full sightseeing day to go to Brussels.  It's the capital, it's famous, yada yada.  But so many people said "Bruges Bruges Bruges" that we decided to go there instead.  Turns out, they were on to something!

Love those wide cobblestone streets.  I can just picture the horses pulling their carriages through here.

Possibly the cutest house ever.

It was a little touristy, but that was okay...all you have to do is walk one street off the main square and you find the most adorable, genuine shops and restaurants.  This one, Bistro de Pompe, was written up in our guidebook.  It took some time to find but it was totally worth it.

Is that not the cutest restaurant ever?  How many times can I use the word "cute" in one post?

And because I simply cannot help myself, here's what I ate:

A gigantic goat cheese medallion with a carmelized top set over an amazing salad with bacon and some kind of way-fattening yellow, creamy dressing.  I can't begin to describe how happy this salad made me.  Maybe I should be writing a food blog.

Speaking of the main square (somewhere up there before goat cheese distracted me), it was so pretty.  They have some sort of grass art installation there which I am not sure is permanent, but was very cool.

And another view of the main square with those famous gabled rooflines:

 From there we hustled on down to the canals to take a gondola tour of the town.

Me, Meems, and some random man near the gondola landing.

I just love how sweet these row houses look, and how each one has its own personality.

Flower boxes all over the place.

I really can't get enough of Gothic architecture...don't know what building it is, but I love it!

"The Famous Dog of Bruges," the most photographed citizen of the town, or so our tour-guide said.

One of our main goals in Bruges was to shop for Belgian lace, and I am going to let you in on a little secret.  We went looking for "The Little Lace Shop," which my guidebook said was the oldest lace store in a town full of them.  We found the address, but no Little Lace Shop.  So we trudged on, and found a very cute shop called the Lace Jewel.  And there we met Patrick.  He spent at least an hour teaching us all about Belgian lace (and how to tell the difference between "hand-made" lace made in China vs. "hand-made" lace made in Belgium)--and the kicker was that he had once owned the Little Lace Shop!  It was his family's business for years before it closed last May.  Patrick himself trained for 35 years to become an expert lace-maker.  He showed us the famous bobbin technique of lace-making that is specific to the town of Bruges. He was a very particular, sorta prickly man, the kind of man you'd expect to spend 35 years learning to make lace.  And under his prickly, perfectionist exterior he was a sweetheart.  If you ever meet him, tell him I said "Hallo!"

I didn't expect to be so enamored with the lace, but its inherent beauty won me over.  I fell in love with this tablecloth and brought it home with me (thanks Meems)!  Can't you just see it over a little French table on the patio?  With roses and tea?  Love.  Love.  Love.

I thought a square was the most versatile--could go like this in my dining room or on a small circular or square table.   Is this cute or would you do it differently?

Look at the amazing detail in this thing--every stitch hand-made.  
We had a big day in Bruges, and finally got our tired selves on the train back to Antwerp.  Like dolts we accidentally sat in First Class before getting kicked back into "party class" with all the kids from Bruges going to Ghent for a night out.  Just me, Meems, and the party bus.  That night we said goodbye to Antwerp and packed up to leave for Paris the next morning...and that's where I'll take you next!  Tune in tomorrow to learn all about how to navigate a Parisian police station...and other fun stuff!

P.S. If you are just joining me, this is Day 3 of my European Vacation series.  You can see the first two posts here.

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