Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Bruges Revisited

After the French Open our Oakhurst friends, Heather and Troy, came to visit us in Brussels. It is VERY exciting to have visitors in our home. Makes our apartment full and us happy. Even if it does accentuate the homesickness a little (especially when they have to leave). Connor thinks it is a big treat too. She took to Heather and Troy right away without missing a beat. But then again, who wouldn't love Heather and Troy - they are just about the most all-American glamour shot of a couple that you could find!When they arrived on Friday we barely let them put their bags down before we loaded them in the car (Kirk got home a couple hours early in anticipation of our friends) and drove to Bruges. I recently wrote about my tough time tour guiding in Bruges. Well this afternoon/evening jaunt got me on the right track! The weather was sparkling and we of course warmed up with a visit to Dumon Chocolatier.After that we found the elusive beguinage I had been searching out my past three visits to Bruges. A beguinage is a small neighborhood that was traditionally where women went to live in faith, meditation and silence - often for only a short time period (vs forever) without having to take full oaths as nuns. Most of the time this was when a woman lost her husband at war or something like that. There are beguinages all over Belgium and the Netherlands. The one in Bruges didn't disappoint.We next stumbled upon the Half Moon Brewery. We of course had to stop in for a drink on their patio. Belgian beer when visiting is a must! Connor loved picking up the small pebbles and lining up and counting them on the table. Whatever kept her attention!Finally, and probably the crowning jewel of our Bruges trip, was the evening canal tour. I had kinda poo-poo'd these as too touristy for a while but whoa was I mistaken. Bruges looks like another city from the water...and it is pretty gorgeous to begin with. The canal cruise was 30 minutes and only 6 euros. We limbo'd under the low bridges and the guide filled in facts and stories. Like did you know traditionally the Belgians were taxed in Bruges based on the number of windows in their homes. So some tricky ones (see below) bricked theirs up to reduce taxes! I am definitely more on the 'Bruges bandwagon' after this picture perfect trip. I think the canal cruise and the Half Moon Brewery are key. Just having a purpose is good - and stunning weather certainly helps. The aimless wandering in a heavy tourist city with confusing streets is just difficult. Now we have more of a tour together. We loved spending time with Heather and Troy!

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