Today I arrived in Ghent, Belgium after a days drive through Holland, Belgium and France on backroads and am staying in the Carlton Hotel Gent where we have a lovely European view out our 5th story window. I took lots of photos to share with you AND, always keeping my readers in mind, I spent a good portion of the 8 hours in the car working on the third book! It’s weird to be mentally in India and physically in France, listening to French, Flemish, Dutch and English throughout the day on the radio. Before carrying on with Ghent, I wanted to finish telling you about my time in beautiful Brugge.
If you could imagine your perfect breakfast? How would it play out? There are too many on my list, but I think this one ticked a fantasy theme off mine. 16th century decor, huge tapestries hanging from the walls, a walk-in sized fireplace and old marble mantel, statues, a grand collection of old encyclopedias on one of the walls, coffee served hot and a selection of fruit, cereals, juices, breads….Sitting down to this picture perfect, romantic breakfast in Jan Brito Hotel really brought out the grandma in me.
Some of you may not know that Kees (pronounced CASE like nutcase) is quite a lot older than me. Throughout our nearly 7 year relationship, many people have looked at us and thought or even said to him on several occasions, …. “Oh, how nice of you to bring your daughter with you!” They just don’t realize that I’m an old lady stuck in a young girl’s body. Sometimes I really think I was born in the wrong era. Before leaving Brugge, Kees and I wanted to go up the Belfort Tower and get a view of the city. We really lucked out because the weather had cleared up and it was sunny the second day. Our location was so perfect, our car was parked literally two steps from the front door of our hotel which was 300metres from the main square, Markt. I guess the power of 088 worked. In our family we believe in 088 which is the 88% of the brain we don’t use, to draw a perfect parking spot to us. Of course you can tap into the 088 (The ritual is said “OH! eighty eight. You’re so great.”) to draw anything you want, the parking is just a daily necessity. Try it! Seriously, it works.
On our walk to The Markt we decided to hop on a 30 minute boat cruise through the lovely canals so we could fully experience “Little Venice of the North”. Everything in Brugge seems so straight forward, easy to access, beautiful and comfortable. 30 minutes was the perfect amount of time to see the city from the water, looking up at all the old brick buildings, passing by swans, churches, old residences and ducking under the low arched bridges.
The lineup was long and slow to climb the 366 steps to the top of the tower because they only allow 70 people at a time in the tower. It’s a good thing too, because as you progress higher the stairs get narrower and narrower making it hard to pass the two way traffic. When we reached the top of the Belfort van Brugge the old bells started ringing. Our brains rattled a little from the noise but it was a very special moment to experience. It sure was windy and cold at the top but looking out over Brugge was well worth the 366 step climb (though Kees and I both counted fewer than that). The last photo really made me think of a Disney fairytale, especially with those clouds.
A van parked at the edge of the square selling fresh waffles from his window seemed the obvious choice for lunch. The sweet, fresh scent wafting down the entire street from his van, made it hard for his competition. And the task, no doubt, of eating the hot waffle, balanced on a piece of napkin, overflowing with juicy strawberries and whipped cream, wasn’t any easier than the first time I’d eaten one, years ago in Brussels. But gosh, do they ever smell and taste good. And I don’t even like sweet things!
Many shops are boasting chocolate, beer, Belgium’s famous waffles and lace which is some of the most elegant in the world.
Even though it was cold with on and off showers, we had a great time. Don’t let winter keep you from enjoying a weekend trip to Brugge. You’ll fall in love with the city and have another reason to come back in the summer. I can only imagine how lovely it is when the trees are full and green, hanging over the canals of the Northern Venice.
It’s been more than a week (wow time flies) since we were in Brugge and I’m still overloaded with sorting and deleting photos. The bloggers curse. And now in Ghent I can’t wait to share the new pics.
Thank you again Hotel Jan Brito for making this trip possible.
I love that I can take my work with me anywhere in the world that has internet access and electricity (you’d actually be surprised how many places DON’T have those two things). The Twitter Travel Chat that I co-founded with Shane, @thetravelcamel has started (6pm-7pm GMT), please join us by using the hashtag #TRLT. I will be tweeting from my lovely Carlton Hotel Gent room with this lovely view from my “office”. When I return from dinner I’ll continue the 48 hour journey South to the tip of India on a jam-packed, garbage filled train in book 3.
PS! I wrote about the 088 rule while I was in the car, consciously thought about it… and guess what. Again we are parked RIGHT in front of our hotel’s front door, this time the Carlton Hotel’s. Even the owner said, “Yes that is indeed a parking spot. You are very lucky.” That is the car looking down from the window, with the hotel’s front door sign right above. And it only costs 2.30 for nearly 20 hours! Wham Bam! I’m telling you. TRY IT.