I'm slow but I get the job done. This was my last night in Bruges! (You know, back in late June.)
It was a Sunday night so there weren't a lot of options for dinner. I opted for douchey/touristy and chose one of the big outdoor places near a big landmark you can probably rest assured is going to be mediocre and expensive. And it was! :D
I'm 80% sure this is City Hall. Feel free to correct me. But it was sunset so the big areas were clearing out and it was fairly peaceful.
Mussels! They are known for their mussels. I think in all honesty I am not a mussel girl. I've eaten them on more than a few occasions, so the vote is in.
Do not order steak in Belgium. I know this looks good. It was pretty sad.
Fries! Save! the Day! No, dinner was just fine, it was just very mediocre. Both my waiters were very nice, not sure why I had two. One of them was all, "Why are you spending your weekend alone in Bruges?" and I explained I was working next door in Holland and it was my birthday so what the hell. And he kinda rubbed it in some more--"Your BIRTHDAY? ALONE?" Jesus, well, I was cool with it til you put it like that...
One of my friends back in Holland insists he was fishing, but either way. Wth? And that's ok, because the second waiter just flat-out invited himself along to the rest of my evening. He asked what I was doing and I said there were a few places I wanted to check out. He said something along the lines of--"Maybe when I get off I join you!" I really don't remember how I got out of that without embarrassing either one of us but I recall it went down okay.
This was probably my favorite part--nice and simple and yummy. ICE CREAM DOESN'T LET YOU DOWN!
So then I wandered around (alone, thank god) in search of a couple pubs that my hostel's brouchure made sound cool. I was also a big fan of the Rick Steve's Amsterdam/Bruges/Brussels book. Rick Steves himself might be annoying as hell but that is a solid book. I think I had some Lonely Planet excerpts as well. Anyhoo.
The golden hour never fails to be the ideal picture time! Good night, Belfry!
Walking away from the city center to a vaguely off-the-beaten-path pub area.
There are still some good pubs open Sunday night, but it sure is quiet around town! Bruges is also supposed to be a very haunted town (pretty sure any town with any amount of history has this "reputation," read: "gimmicky tourist trap"), and I wandered around in front of a famously haunted house over here, but did not see whatever it is one is supposed to see in the window. I guess only arthouse cinema ghosts like me!
Poatersgat! I like this place--great atmosphere and besides, basement pubs rock. My hostel guide had listed it, noting its extensive beer list and cool atmosphere.
Let's go inside...
Again, really neat place. Would love to go back with friends and when it was hopping.
I miss Belgium beers!! Well, for these prices, anyway. Really good Belgium beers here (in the States) are $9-11 and then it tends to skyrocket. These were probably $6 tops. Sigh.
Ok. Then I left and went in search of this other bar nearby that sounded really cool. It was REALLY off the beaten path and I'm so glad I kept my hostel's guide because I could NOT find it via internet search (I could not recall the name, the place doesn't even have a sign I don't think!) no matter how hard I tried.
It's called On the Rocks and was written up as being a great late-night place where the barkeeps themselves go to drink. A "few years back" it used to be a striptease joint "with rooms upstairs." Classy. It mentioned it no longer had the pole but kept the red carpet and the Dean Martin/Shirley Bassey records. "Tony calls the shots and serves snacks til the last sleeping customer goes home, usually around 5:00. Good place for a solitary whisky, but don't come if you want to party." OMFG I WAS IN.
These photos utterly fail to capture this place. It was like a 70s strip joint from a Scorsese film. Very narrow place with LOTS of faded red/pink velour, all mirrors, it was PERFECT. And no, I was not creeped out. Well, wait. One guy was kinda icky.
He was sitting back along the mirrored wall and the bartender (well, the owner, Tony, see above) and I were talking. Tony is one COOL MOTHERFUCKER. He is older and is incredibly well read and has extensive, intelligent hobbies, like, learning Russian and shit. I forget most of our conversation, all this time later, but he was a lot of fun to talk to. The creepy customer would join in sometimes, and I was polite, but both times I walked to the loo he had to touch my arm. Whatever.
See that lone beer? That's where the creepy guy was. And he was harmless, probably just a remnant customer from the earlier years?
When I came back the second time I was going to head out, but I think they were both happy to have someone new in on a slow night, so I was just given a beer to stay. I absolutely will stay for Belgium beer.
But after my free beer I really did leave (they are Belgium, after all, I can't have that many) and wandered around looking for a particular bridge for a good night shot I wanted. I was distracted by a chocolate shop window along the way. Remember those ejaculating chocolate penises?
Sigh, why not.
And yes. For that classy touch.
Ok, now these pics were impossible to get in the low lighting but I still have to post them.
The details are what make it. First of all, the rabbit:
But best of all, the chicks:
So these are all chocolate, I guess? Neat. I was really tired and did not find my bridge--someone moved it--but I will get it next time.
The next day was my actual 32nd birthday, so I stopped off for lunch before hitting the train station. An easy panini sandwich and a (mini) white wine bottle. It's not proper-sized, in case the photo is deceiving! I had to change trains, after all. ;)
So obviously Bruges gets an A+. The hostel guide was so helpful and I kept it. It also had a section called "5 Minutes of History" starting from 1277 until 2009. Two of note that made me laugh:
"1892: Bruges wakes up. The popular book 'Bruges la Morte' describes the city as dark, poor and ugly. Locals are not too happy with this, but tourists see some romance in it, and start visiting Bruges more and more."
"2009: The movie 'In Bruges' wins an award for best scenario. Quote: 'If I grew up on a farm, and was retarded, Bruges might impress me. But I didn't, so it doesn't.' So just like in 1892, somebody calls Bruges a shithole, which only attracts more tourists."
Waiting for the train to Antwerp! The day turned out to be a very warm day in both Belgium and Holland. Fuck it, it was hot. Ask my precious chocolates. And everyone and their dog was heading to Amsterdam, which unfortunately is AFTER den Haag. That was one shitty train ride with everyone packed into the aisle of a train in which people do not typically stand. At one point during a stop they threatened not to go anywhere unless some people got off.
But I made it back to the Hague and had a very nice dinner at my Italian spot with B. Nice birthday!