A Quick Day Trip to Bruges

from the followsummer archive

Today is All Souls Day and a holiday in Belgium and indeed much of Europe.

It is also our last day in Europe and we must do our final repack and organize the return of the car when we arrive for our flight to Argentina tomorrow evening. We plan a quiet day (for us!) which includes a quick trip to Bruges and making dinner for Yves, Marc, and Marc’s daughter Allison, who is visiting for the weekend.

Bruges is for Foreigners, Gent is for Belgians

We are up and out fairly early today and on the road by 9:30 for the 48-kilometre drive to Bruges. The fall weather continues grey, cool and wet. The leaves are practically gone from the trees, leaving yellow carpets on the ground. Bruges isn’t completely open when we arrive around 10:15 but because of the holiday, some small cafés are doing a brisk business for the busy tourists that, like us, have descended early on the picturesque town. Bruges is a medieval tourist town and probably more visited than Gent; we have been told that Bruges is for foreigners, Gent is for Belgians. There are organized boat tours and caleches that regularly (and recklessly) tread the cobblestones, leaving groups of tourists scurrying to get out of their paths. Gent is less openly touristy and therefore easier to absorb and enjoy, and my personal favorite.

We wander the town, jumping back and forth over canals covered by footbridges, sticking our heads into the souvenir shops and window shopping for clothes we won’t buy. The town is quaint and romantic in many ways and you can see why it is such a draw. Even the restaurants have candlelit tables welcoming you at lunchtime. We understand Bruges is particularly wonderful at night; the medieval buildings warmly and invitingly lit for the delight of its visitors. However, we don’t have the opportunity of seeing this night-time splendor,  as we head for Gent and home shortly after our lunch. We drive up and find parking right in front of Yves and Marc’s house and pull out our big bags and bring them inside for the repack. Yves and Marc are busily working on restoring the blue room upstairs, and we catch up a bit on email and our journal, and do laundry, before naps and dinner tonight.

A Final European Dinner

I start prep work for a simple dinner of cornmeal-coated pork loin marinated in dijon,  browned then roasted, and finished with a port wine reduction. We are also having braised anise and leeks and the pork will be served with a fall fruit compote, and a nice salad to start. We sit down for our final European dinner just after 7 o’clock and spend the evening with a couple of bottles of wine and lots of conversation. We try to convince Yves and Marc to come to Canada when we return and, we hope, are successful in planting the seed. After dinner and the dishes are done, we receive a phone call from Mieke, a close friend of Yves and Mark from Antwerpen. She sometimes spends weekends here and we met her when we first arrived in June. Mieke is a convert to and we have laughed and welcomed her many comments during our trip. She wishes that she could have joined us for dinner tonight but alas she too is entertaining guests, from South Africa. She wishes us continued good travelling and we extend our invitation to Canada to her too.

We are going to have a very busy guest bed!

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