October 28-31 2016
To see photos of Bruges in a Google Photo album, click the following link
I originally requested four nights starting Oct 24 for the houseboat in Amsterdam and three nights starting Oct 28 for Bruges but was told that the Amsterdam booking was only available starting Oct 25. I was able to change the Bruges booking to Oct 27. That was fine except that when it was time to book train reservations, several months later, I read the requests incorrectly and had Erica book our trains based on the earlier Oct 24 departure from Paris. I didn’t discover the problem until we were in Paris, so last minute changes were necessary. I was able to change the Amsterdam booking back to an Oct 24 start, but could not change the Bruges. The landlady had booked a family into the house for a week starting Oct 30 and it couldn’t be changed. That meant we had to find another place in Bruges for the last night, Oct 30. At least the Ibis next to the train station had rooms available.
Our train from Amsterdam to Bruges involved a change in Rotterdam, which worked well. Arriving in Bruges we found our way easily to our small, rental house near the center of town. The house was certainly more luxurious than our houseboat, with 2 bedrooms and a set of bunk beds on the upper 2 floors. The boys immediately chose the top floor that had a big king-sized bed and lots of space. We had the master bedroom on the 2nd floor with the main full bathroom next door. We didn’t have to use the extra bunks which were on the 2nd floor landing. The main floor had a nice living room with dining area and a compact, well equipped kitchen. There was also a small outdoor space off the living room with a 2nd toilet. The house was on a quiet street very close to the center of town so we were able to walk everywhere.
The first day we walked through the Arendts gardens, very close to our place, to the Burg. Ray and I especially enjoyed the Basilica of the Holy Blood in the Burg. The boys were less enthusiastic. They really wanted to go to the Chocolate Museum. They waited outside while we explored the church with its ornately carved exterior and ancient, beautiful treasures inside.
So it was the Chocolate Museum next, which lifted the kids’ spirits. Roman had been in a funk and the chocolate treats were just what he needed. The exhibits were well distributed with questionnaires to keep the boys on track.
Lunch was nearby, a good antidote to the chocolate consumed. we made it to the Markt (the Market Square). We headed for the Historium which tells the history of Bruges from Medieval times through a mixed media story. Visitors are led from room to room to get the next chapter in the story of a young apprentice to the artist Jan Van Eyck, who painted the famous “Virgin and Child with Canon van der Paele”. The mixed media show, ended in a series of rooms relating further history of Bruges to what we had gathered from the story. It was very well done. A door from these last display led to an outdoor terrace giving excellent view of the entire market square.
The next day we took the boat tour of the canals in Bruges which was appreciated by all of us. Roman asked if we could rent bikes again, which we did. We rented from a recommended shop near the Gentpoort gate. It was Sunday and we got to the shop just in time as the owner was closing at 12:30 for the afternoon but would be back to retrieve our bikes before 5 PM. We started out along the bike paths next to the canal marking the perimeter of old Bruges. We had a great ride passing three windmills, several gates to the original city walls which ended with a circumnavigation of Bruges. We got back to town in time to have a treat of Belgian waffles topped with your choice of ice cream, whipped cream chocolate or fruit. It was rich and tasty. That gave us energy to ride back to the bike rental shop and returned the bikes.
We had checked out of our rental house and checked into our two rooms at the Train Station Ibis before our bike ride. That meant only a short walk to our room for the night. Each Ibis room was just big enough for two people so the boys had their own room. They thought that was super. The next treat was takeout pizza for dinner from the shop at the station. There was even enough Pizza left over for lunch for the boys on the train ride home the next day. All in all Ray and I, Atticus and Roman declared our trip a success.