Amsterdam-LU-Brussels


Day 9 - Sunday, April 21, 2013 - Optional Full Day Excursion to Bruges

What a beautiful day for an excursion to Bruges! The temperature was 45°and the humidity was 72%.

The streets were very quiet this Sunday morning when we left the hotel at 8:36. All members of our group joined this optional tour going northwest to the coast.

We traveled through Flanders, the flat, Dutch speaking region of Belgium. We arrived at Bruges after driving an hour and stopped at the tour bus park for a restroom break.

Thomas divided the group into two for convenience in getting around this historic town. Jacques, our guide began by showing us a map of the city. He gave us an explanation of the Golden Age of Bruges; the 13th through 15th centuries.

At one time Bruges was one of the primary cities of Europe being the hub of trade and commerce. When the harbor silted in around 1500, Antwerp became the sea port of Belgium and Bruges was in decline.

Our city hike took us across the Lake of Love and then we walked into the city center. Jacques pointed out the church spires towering over the city. The swans were nesting and the daffodils were blooming, making this a very picturesque setting.

We walked through the Begijnhof, built as a housing area for widows whose husbands were killed in the Crusades of the 12th Century. Now a community for pensioners, the peaceful neighborhood has its own chapel. The gates are closed at 6:00 each evening for privacy and protection.

We continued on through this quaint little tourist town and got to the boat dock at noon and thanked Jacques for sharing his city. The boat was very crowded - the captain gave 30 of us a 25 minute tour traveling on the canals under the 13th century bridges past the old brick step-gable style buildings.

Bruges has always been known for lace, chocolates, and beer. Thousands of tourists pour into the city on hundreds of cruise ships, buses, and cars during the summer.

We finished our formal tour with Thomas and then were on our own for lunch and the remainder of the afternoon. Heading to the Fish Market area, we had an incredible lunch of mussels and fries, the specialty of this area at the Brasserie Mozarthuys.

We sat close to three groups of Iranians who were on a UCLA Alumni tour. Now living in LA, they were exceptionally friendly. To tide us over while we waited for our lunch they offered us meat stew, some of their mussels and fries.

After lunch we had more time to walk the back streets and take pictures to get a feel for the less touristy areas of the town. We met the group at 3:00 at the Belfry of Bruges Tower and then we walked back to the bus park together.

It was almost 4:00 when we left Bruges to return to Brussels. As soon as we dropped off our back packs we went out to the Careefour Express Market to get a few things for a light dinner.

Thomas invited everyone to the bar at 7:30 for a good-bye drink as there was no Farewell Dinner with this tour. We packed our bags for our departure on the TGV train to Paris in the morning.

Accommodations: Thon Hotel Bristol Stephanie - - - Meal: B - - Rating: A-

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Go Ahead Tours: Amsterdam, Luxembourg & Brussels



  Comments

The daffodils are lovely; such great pictures. We do not have any daffodils yet. Snow is coming tonight.

Lindy Powell   April 22, 2013 - 10:52am

Mussels in Brussels? :)

Chris   April 21, 2013 - 7:30pm
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Historic City Center Bruges, BE

Historic City Center Bruges, BE (0:40)

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Arrival in Bruges

Arrival in Bruges

Begijnhof (Pensioner’s Homes)

Begijnhof (Pensioner’s Homes)

Traditional Brick Step-gable Buildings

Traditional Brick Step-gable Buildin...

Mussels at Brasserie Mozarthuys

Mussels at Brasserie Mozarthuys

Guild Houses

Guild Houses

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