“Binsar, I have a proposition you can’t refuse!” That was the first line Szaszi told me during our phone call last Saturday (January 5th). He asked me to join him, Minette, and Lean to go 2 days travelling to Bruges, Gent, and Antwerp. It is indeed an offer I can’t refuse: traveling with friends to Bruges, one of the cities I’ve never been too, what more could you possibly ask. Thanks to Minette’s driving skills, we managed to get to Bruges just in time to have our lunch with delicious sandwiches she had prepared. Lean was acting as Mio, because Tomtom Szaszi was not working properly hahaha. Me? I was just sitting quietly at the back enjoying all the snacks. Well, somebody has to do that considering the large amount of snacks they’ve prepared.
Bruges was established between the 7th and the 9th century and was called Bruggia. Counts of Flandres built the fortress called ‘Burg’ (Borough, and the town developed around it. In the 13th century it became a world port. Since the Dukes of Burgundy settled in, Bruges regain its magnificence and developed in an splendid town and became an unequated artistic center. The official town site stated that Bruges is known as the Venice of the North. UNESCO included the entire hisorical city center on the World Heritage list in 2000.
For me, Bruges is a very old city that preserved its medieval arts. Its very easy to walk around it and the city tourist map really helps. The city map also includes tips to act like local such as: “Don’t buy chocolate, spend it on beer” and 3 questions to upset the locals, one of which is: “Where is McDonald’s?”. The town gave me the impression that it was really a center of art and trade. It has towers and arts that are preserved until now. Bruges also famous for its beers and chocolates. Minette had her best hot white choco drink ever in her entire life. Szaszi will now use her weakness for his own sake.
However, we came on Monday which was the official town’s day off. Almost every museums were closed, and we did not think that it also includes restaurants. We walked all night long to find a decent and budget-wise restaurant and finally ended up in a cozy Italian restaurant near our motel. We ended the night with beers and a good early sleep.
Bruges has a low pace of life. It is probably the most relaxed town I’ve ever been in Europe. People don’t seem to think much about the time, in fact I did not spot any clock in the city. I guess they must use shadows to tell time back then :D. And I can’t figure out whether I have met any of the locals on the street other than those who are working in shops and restaurants.
These images changed a bit when we entered Gent. Gent is bigger than Bruges. It is the third largest city in Belgium after Brussels and Antwerp. The pace was a bit faster than Bruges. Here we could see modern transportation system roaming around old paved-block roads along the city center. We walked around to get some cool pictures then set off to the next destination.
Antwerp is the shopping city. It was all shops. Well, this is not true, but the fact is a friend of mine just asked me to go there to shop after I got back. I’ve been here twice before but I never thought that the shopping area was enormous until Szaszi showed me all about it. Antwerp for us was pure shopping walk. I bought my last spending for the year here.
We finally entered this mexican grill restaurant for dinner after debating for some times whether we want argentinian or mexican grill. This is understandable because Szaszi made exquisite ribs and he did not want to be disappointed when he is paying for one. I almost had too much alcohol after two glasses of Duvel beer, two shots of tequila, and half a glass of Amaretto. But we got home in Amsterdam at 10 pm. It was a great experience thanks to Szaszi, Minette, and Lean.
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