In Bruges - I know I'm awake but it feels like I'm in a dream.


Belfry of Bruges
The first time I ever heard about Bruges is when a friend recommended the movie "In Bruges." Watching it, I never ever thought I'd actually ever be standing in this 10th century town preserved like a living artifact. What a mind trip!

So on the third day of vacation we made our way down to the Brussel's metro system where we found ourselves fighting with the electronic kiosk and risking penalty by sneaking onto the subway. I texted Sarah that we were on our way and made it to her flat in Stockel just past 10 AM. We dropped off our packs and off we went. First we picked up a quick waffle from the market which occurs in the square directly below her flat. Made fresh, they melt in your mouth. It's like Brussels own version of Krispy Kreme. No need for maple syrup as you eat them warm and gooey fresh from the griddle. It's an indulgence to add on anyone's bucket list.

Gaufres from Stockel market.
 Noshing away, we walked through the market, and then headed down to the Gare du Centrale to get our tickets to Bruges. We caught the train and a hour later we were in Bruges, a literal time machine to another century.

There I remembered that one line from the movie 'In Bruges' where Harry states to his hired hit-man Ken, that Bruges is like a dream. Harry of course explaining he sent Ray to Bruges, after botching a job so he could see Harry's favorite place in the world before they "fired" him by Ken's gun.

 When the rail conductor first announces you're arriving in Bruges you sort of look around and say "wait a second! This wasn't in the movie!" Not all of Bruges is like a "dream" though eventually things begin to transform as you walk down to the Markt Square of Bruges.
A few people must bike to the train station, eh?

It was right about then that Sarah stopped, turned around and remembered to warn us: "don't speak French." "Quoi?" I gulped. We were just beginning to get the hang of French when Sarah educated us by explaining that Bruges is a bit old fashioned, and if you can't speak Dutch, they'd prefer English over French. "Pardon" and "merci" had just became ingrained in my mind and now I was on the verge of offending a Bruges citizen by this habit? Luckily we managed. It's amazing how quick you can alternate between the three languages when you have to, even if it's only with a limited vocabulary of phrases and salutations.

1 Horsepower.
Bruges was very busy the day we went. Nothing like the quiet little town the movie portrays though Sarah did advise it wasn't normal. We chalked it up to the Easter holiday and indeed there was a lot of British holiday makers there. We walked around taking it all in as horse drawn carriages paraded up and down the streets. A stage was being assembled outside of the famous 13th century belfry (clock tower). Free concerts are a common occurrence in Bruges as well as much of Europe.

It's a diverse country: Belgium.
Eventually after shopping at the chocolatier with as much self-control as humanly possible, we made our was to a Belgian hot chocolate cafe that Sarah proclaimed "we had to visit" and that it was "out of this world." Indeed it was. The chocolate comes separate from the cream and you mix it yourself. You're also given a few small chocolates to nibble on which I then proceeded to dip into the other melted chocolate leaving Sarah's face in shock. "What?" I asked. "You're dipping you're chocolate in your chocolate Liv!?", she exclaimed! So like how was I supposed to know? We had a laugh.

After our bit of chocolate chaud we did some shopping then ended up at a authentic Belgian restaurant for dinner, where Sarah ordered us some ethnic dishes. The ambiance was amazing as it began to rain and the fire inside the restaurant crackled. I'm not even sure what we ate, I just know it was good and that indeed, it had all the appearances of a dream. Indescribable to anyone else- it was like being in a movie at a sleepy corner cafe while it rained in Bruges. Somewhere in the process of our soiree, Sarah then turns to me and says "I'm getting you drunk Liv." Who am I to argue?
Jesus is electrifying.

So off it was to the local pub. Kicking back Baby Guinness (Guinness & Baileys) and a few pints of beer left us all laughing. The music was blaring, the lights were flashing and I practically lost my balance trying to hover over the toilet in the water closet. Everything seemed brighter, louder, and more beautiful as we pried the Scotsman off of Shannon's breasts and strolled out into the crisp Belgian air. Bruges was alive, and so were we as the lights glimmered in our eyes. For a moment, all was right with the world. Thousands of miles away from home and here in the midst of legend and fairy tales were three old friends strolling among the streets of Bruges laughing, loving, and living- feeling like they belonged. The world could have melted away, but there in that moment the three of us knew what life was about and we were living it. Eventually we found our train back to Sarah's. With her roommate down in Paris we stayed at Sarah's that night and had a lovely time reminiscing about the past. Eventually it was bed time, and a new day would be before us. What would it bring? Surely it couldn't be better than this. This was the night I fell in love with Belgium. I would of course wake the next morning and wonder if it was all a dream.


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