After traveling all day Wednesday and eating a warm, delicious, very filling meal (that included two very large glasses of red wine) I slept like a baby! It helped that we had a California King sized bed, so that if Nick did snore, he was too far away for me to hear him, which was fine by me! I awoke on Thursday morning a bit disoriented, but ready to go!
As I drew back the thick hotel black-out drapes, I was slightly disappointed to see it was “pissing down.” (That’s a phrase I’ve picked up since living here in the UK! Along with similar sayings, like: “She was so pissed,” or “Are you taking the piss?” All very useful. I used to say “Are you pissing on me,” but soon learned that was not the appropriate use of the term and should that action actually be taking place, it would be very, very wrong!!) …but, I digress. On this particular morning, I had the distinct feeing this was no passing shower, this was an all day, grey, cold, bleak, wet, “nice day if you’re a duck,”weather!
One good thing about being in a city visited by a lot of tourist, is that when it’s raining, many people sleep in, so the streets, shops and cafés are usually vey quiet. And that was to be the case on this wet and wild Thursday.
We walked the sloppy, winding cobblestoned streets looking for the perfect cafe and decided on “The Gulliver Tree.” It was again warm and welcoming and decorated with a Scandinavian flair.
It was well lit, with beautiful wood lamps hanging from a crisp white ceiling. There was a small modern fire place, that was somehow warming the entire room. Fake fur rugs and cozy natural colored throws were casually tossed over the backs of couches and chairs and there was lots of recycled wood and brick everywhere I looked.
The two young women and their mom, who owned this gem of a coffee house, spoke perfect English and spent a lot of time with us talking about the horror that had taken place in Paris the day before. After a long time and some delicious coffee and cakes, we reluctantly ventured out into the still… cold and wet day.
The streets were still rather empty and we saw only the occasional tourist, with a wet soggy map in hand, looking up and then back down the street. To our disappointment the canal boats were not running, but since they had no canopy or roof on them, it may have been just as well.
Instead, we opted to climb the famous Bruges Tower, at €8.00 a head! I actually think they should have paid me €8.00 to climb 366 stairs, of a spiral staircase, which was often not much wider than my shoulders!!! …but that was not the case.
It was a challenging climb, but only because I’m so out of shape! We did make it to the top and were lucky enough to be there on the half hour when the bells began to ring, quite loudly. It was totally cool! …and what a view!!!
The narrow winding streets and pedestrian passageways were filled with great, little “one off”shops and boutiques. Most of the shops were closed. I’m not sure if that was because of the weather or because the shop owners were taking a well deserved holiday after a busy Christmas season, but it didn’t really matter, because window shopping was about all I could do, since Christmas was just a few weeks ago and I haven’t won the lottery yet.
Here are a few photos of my favorite store windows…
Ok, moving right along….
After a very long, wet walk around the city, it was time for lunch! What better than a nice Italian? HA! …a good pizza or pasta wouldn’t be bad either!!! We ended up at the Italian restaurant right on the main square where we had a nice lunch and met two young girls from North Carolina. We stayed there as long as we possibly could, to avoid going back out into the rain.
More window shopping… A visit to an amazing chocolate shop (that apparently Rick Steve’s recommends highly), a fun trip to the local grocery store for water and other necessary supplies and then back to the room to collapse. *sigh* This sightseeing is tough work, but somebody’s got to do it!
All in all Thursday was very wet and cold, but quite pleasant. Beautiful city, good food, nice friendly people and I got to spend the day with my lovely husband who makes me laugh and indulges my whims. ….well most of them anyway. The Antwerp Diamond Exchange wasn’t in the card for me on this rainy Thursday, but that’s ok, maybe next time.