Others call it ‘sightseeing’. For us it was too little time to enjoy all the beauties the cozy Flemish town had to offer. Nevertheless we tried to point our cameras towards every detail we could capture. Which we did eventually.
But the adventure had started in a much less hyped manner. Friday evening, 8:00 PM. Ravaged by an all-too-annoying flu I try to keep my optimism level high and persuade my buddy that I’m still up for going to Bruges. Luckily for me, Daniel has some amazing medicine, the father and mother of all aspirins, paracetamols, honeys, lemons, zinc & co: a straight-forward counter-strike against the malevolent inFLUenza: Fervex, made in RO. I’ve sprinkled this magic dust into one cup of hot water and by 2 AM I was already starting to feel the remedy taking over. ‘Had one more before embarking into our voyage. Bruges was only few sneezes away.
3:00 AM. Stuttgart was asleep and some snow flakes were starting to dance under the street lights. “How long ’til we get to Belgium?” “6 hours and half, so it said on ViaMichelin.” “OK, we’ll make it in 5.” Overconfidence was starting to show off, and as you are reading this sentence the aforementioned dance is slowly progressing towards a psychedelic movement, a frenzy of snow flakes swirling and hopping around in the same time covering the ground with a thick layer of white. Snow white. Visibility was rapidly decreasing and it wasn’t long before we realized that our car was doing the local authorities’ job, that is ‘removing the snow from the autobahn’.
The cockpit was silent; not even the radio station had the courage to disturb the monotony or the nuisance – call it however you like. […] After counting numerous snow flakes for 3 hours we made a quick stop at a nearby gas station only to realize that we were ~50 km away from Stuttgart. There was already some tension building up but none of us had the guts to admit it. It was only later in the day that, after laughing over a pint of Leffe, one of us said it: “I was thinking that we should go back!” “So did I, but I didn’t say anything!” – rofl, lol, gulp! –
A quick breakfast, one strong espresso and two RedBulls were immediately put to good use, boosting our morale, pumping up the blood in our veins, and there we were – hitting the road again. The sight was not encouraging at all: one long vehicle had blocked the whole traffic on the opposite direction after ending up with its wheels up in the air; another one was slowing us down after it had broken in two on the 3rd lane, then there were 4 or 5 minor crashes, some trails going abroad, leaving the lane and heading towards the parapet – all-in-all not a good start for what was supposed to be an enjoyable weekend. Truth be told – it was our first ever planned trip, and by saying ‘planned’ I mean we thought of it one week before, agreed to leave on Saturday morning and that’s it. So, as opposed to all the other trips where we decided on the destination hours before our leaving, the Bruges road-trip planning was already a bit too over-elaborate.
As Mark Twain once said – “All you need in life is ignorance and confidence; then success is sure.“, so all this painful struggle to make it to our destination had eventually, after driving for 10 hours, paid off.
Yes, we’ve seen the movie and – YES, it was one of the main reasons we wanted to go into the sh!thole. The other was to prove that ‘Bruges is NOT a sh!thole.’ And that’s for all the visitors to decide after admiring the perfectly preserved medieval architecture, the small and narrow streets and the canal circling around the city’s center. I won’t say too much about the beer since my affinities with the Belgian ales are all too well-known. One thing had to be done in this respect so the first stop on our trip was in the little town of Dinant, shelter to the ‘Abbey Notre Dame de Leffe’; that’s right – Leffe, in which lie the roots of all the ‘hostilities’ to-date. Unfortunately it was closed on Saturday so we were unable to pay our respect to the loving monks and their admirable alchemy skills which have brought us, commoners the extraordinary flavor of Leffe Blonde, Leffe Brune, Leffe Triple and Leffe Radieuse…
Moving forward we have Spontin and Dorinne – two small villages and a ‘route deformée‘ (as it was highlighted by the warning signs) taking us to Bruges, via Brussels. I don’t really know about the costs of a real-estate property there, nor of the land itself but I’d definitely look into it, should an early retirement plan come up – as Bobo said.
By this stage of the journey it was already 12 o’clock and my friend Mihut was texting me in regards to his arrival in Bruges. We’d already been driving for 9 hours now, with just one stop and one pale nap simulation on the co-pilot’s account. But being that we were finally approaching our destination our spirits were again high and eager to venture into the unknown.
1:30 PM: we’ve finally made it. We manage to drive by my friend while he was waving frenetically at us, trying to attract attention. Our attention. Keine chance; we were too busy trying to locate the main station on the gps. […] Hugs and kisses follow being reunited after a 4 year long pause 🙂 Now it was time to look for accommodation. The 1st one we’ve learned about was a bit too remotely situated from the city center and too far for our feet too cope with the distance – especially after the long drive. We end up at the Ibis hotel just 5 minutes away from the central square – 77 EUR/night for a double room, in case someone’s curious. I reckon we could have found even cheaper rooms, should we have had the patience/time/vigor to look for one; the downtown area was packed with hotels/pensions & that.
The rest of the journey shall not be revealed, not because it was monotonous (far from it!) or anything but because whatever I may say about the city itself and its surroundings or about the whole trip cannot be felt or ‘tasted’ through a short writing. One has to be there in order to fully enjoy a comforting atmosphere, a friendly chat with best friends over a pint of beer or a glass of wine, and bring back good memories to share with others, or to simply keep with himself.
In this respect I hereby warmly embrace my friends who have made my foreign experience so pleasant and I’m not saying good-bye; my leaving Germany is merely a transition so let’s not wave the handkerchief for I shall return 🙂