Had a long weekend to spend with our pal Matt (known as Cool Guy Matt to some readers) and some of his pals from England, so we hopped in his car while it was still dark last Friday and drove through the morning to Bruges — also known as Brugge and Brügge. It took about eight hours and when we got there, we were exhausted. And too early to check into the house we rented. So we drove to the seaside in search of some chow and to kill a few hours before checking in with the rented house’s landlord.
We got all checked in and then set out to procure foods and drinks for the weekend — that’s when the pleasure of reading Flemish really got started. All weekend Sarah and I were reading everything we saw out loud, giggling at the not-quite-English-and-yet-not-quite-German-ness of all the words we saw and quite easily could understand. It was even better than a layover in Amsterdam — that’s usually all the exposure to Flemish / Dutch that we get and this time we got lots more than just airport words.
Bruges is a dense little watery place that specializes in cute. We never did get around to trying any wafelen, but we had plenty of interesting beer and frites. (The rumors are true: those are some darn good fries.) At first I was quite pleased with the apparently abundant willingness of everyone local to speak English with us. Everyone from our landlord for the weekend to the barmaids and even the check-out grannies at the Carrefour switched seamlessly to English for us. Then I got a little embarrassed, thinking about how they were all at least trilingual. Then I got over that too, thinking about how the town’s livelihood probably depends on it. We overheard a lot of not-French and not-Flemish that weekend.
We got lucky with the weather in that it didn’t rain much while we were out and about exploring the town on foot. The drive back to Germany from Bruges was a non-stop downpour though. Big props to Matt for the use of his car and footing the deposit. If you’ve got a big enough party, renting a whole house for a long weekend sure can keep the cost down. If you’re going by car, bring all that stuff you think you’d need at home for the weekend, like your good knives, and extra bottles of your favorite juice, or whatever — and don’t forget to hit the markets to stock up on stuff you’d have to think long and hard about if you were traveling by plane.
Here’s the slideshow (looks pretty nice full-screen):