From Bruges to Bavaria

I’ll admit I wanted to go to Bruges (Brugge, not pronounced the same which can be confusing) because of the scenery in the film ‘In Bruges’. The city is almost all medieval or mock-medieval buildings with cobbled streets. Even the new buildings such as the monolithic post office near the station are fairly tasteful, and there is not a concrete block in sight. There is a lot of bell-ringing going on too at the 83-metre high central Belfry.

Our hostel (‘Passage’) turned out to be basically a hotel, being the first with the free little bars of soap and towels. It had an adjoining restaurant run by the same people, which we went to in the evening on the back of a promise of two free beers for being guests. The restaurant is open to the public too and was very busy which I think is a good sign. We ordered Flemish Stew (beef in dark beer gravy with a jacket potato and assorted veg) and Waterzooi (chicken broth stew with veg and jacket potato). It was defnitely the best food we’ve had so far and incredibly filling.

Afterwards we went for a walk around the city, it was night but the streets are very nicely lit and were very quiet. It didn’t feel unsafe whatsoever though, it was very peaceful. We went to find a bar on the excellent tourist map we’d found. The map is focused on young people and lists many bars and clubs (we didn’t come across any full on nightclubs but there are several music venues). The other side has things to do in the day like going to all the museums with a €1 ticket for under 26’s.

We found an underground bar (‘T Poatersgat’) where I managed to bang my head on the way in despite thinking that I should avoid doing so. Things improved from there though when we found the massive menu containing hundreds of types of beers. The place was pretty cool and seemed to be mostly local 18-30’s with few foreigners besides us, definitely recommended.

Next day we tried to fit in as many things as possible since we had to leave in the evening. Unfortunately a lot of tourists had now come out of the woodwork and there was a massive queue to get into the Belfry tower so we gave it a miss. We discovered a market with random things like ancient letter openers and wooden swords which would have been amazing to have as a violent child, and got the obligatory waffle which is a local speciality.

We spent the rest of the day looking at various attractions on the map including heavenly chocolate shops. There is a healthy rivalry between Switzerland and Belgium over who makes the best chocolate. I haven’t been to Switzerland but some little chocolate shells we bought in Bruges were amazing and I would like to have the money to try more. Bruges is a great place and we would have loved to stay for longer, however we were now going to Frankfurt for a day to meet a friend of Lucy’s.

Frankfurt was a strange mixture of skyscrapers (financial centre of Germany) and an expansive red light district. As usual, we were staying in a hostel in the red light district for budget reasons. It didn’t really seem very dangerous at all though and it was quite bizarre seeing bankers walking out of sex shows at 10AM the next day.

In the city centre there is a lot of opportunity for shopping if you’re into that kind of thing (I’m not). There was also bizarrely a queue and bouncers outside the Hollister shop. Apparently there is also some classical music and opera going on (ditto). However we did manage to get some Bratwurst with Kartoffelsalat (potato salad) and walk around the river which was a lot more agreeable. It is great the way Germany are not bothered at all about drinking in public whereas the police can be a pain about it in England even when you are not at all drunk. A few fountains and ice creams later we got the train to our next stop – Munich!

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