Sunday, December 28, 2008

Belgium: Part 1

Xander: So where were you? Did you go to Belgium?
Buffy: Why would I go to Belgium?
Xander: I think the relevant question is: Why wouldn't you?

Why wouldn't you indeed? Belgium was great. What a great holiday. We went to Brugge, Leuven, and Brussels. There will be a jillion photos, so I'll break this into parts. Have your imaginary passport ready, here we go...

We caught the Eurostar train to Belgium. I'm trying to keep my footprint as low possible, which is pretty much the only reason that I'm not jetting off to a different European location each weekend. The Eurostar not only has the lower fuel usage of ground travel, but it's also carbon neutral. That's pretty cool. It was a good way to travel. A lot better than air travel. The part going through the Chunnel took 34 minutes, and the total from London to Brussels was about 2 hours. I'm really surprised that it's so quick.

I've changed the template to try and stop Blogger from truncating the photos. If you want, just follow the jump. There are also some pictures there that I haven't linked to on the blog:

The ticket to Brussels gives you free travel anywhere within Belgium, so we went straight to Brugge. We had dinner, stayed there for the night, and roamed around. Here's the meal we had. Mine was a fairly average pasta, but my brother had a fantastic scampi dish. We asked the chef and he said it was flavoured with the drink Ricard (it had an aniseed flavour). Note the frites to the left and Belgian beer to the right.

A Brugge square at night

A Brugge sweet shop

Another lit square

Gatehouse over the canal

One of the four windmills on the outer canal

House on the canal

Shop with lights

Organ grinder on the street (those liberal Europeans)

Horse carriage in the main square

Brugge from the belltower (I)

Brugge from above (II)

Brugge from above (III)

Brugge from above (IV)

Another of the windmills

A tower

Buildings on a canal

More houses on a canal

Locals walking among the old buildings

Christmas market

Decorations in the hotel garden

Mirror image in a canal

The reason that Brugge has remained so historic-looking is a little tricky to decern. Centuries ago, people left the city. Lonely Planet is woefully vague on the reason why. Wikipedia is little better, but seems to attribute it to silting of the river. Anyway, they've maintained the appearance in modern times. However, I guess they are still building too:

Cranes on the Brugge skyline

More to follow.


Anonymous said...

Wonderful photos, thanks! You've just made me want to go back to Brugges. Think I will in February, I really enjoyed it there and thankfully didn't run into any midgets with guns.

James said...

I suspect that's a reference to the movie (I haven't actually seen it yet). I was going to title the post "In Brugge", but I didn't know if people back home would know it. It's a cool place, it's impossible to take a bad photo, and it's probably pretty cheap for you to get to.