After our day in Brussels, we were off to Brugge. We decided to stay in Ghent as the hotels were a bit cheaper and we had found an amazing deal on a swanky Guest House close to the train station. So we parked the car, crossed our fingers we were reading the parking meter correctly, and navigated the train system into town.
Brugge was beautiful and much more our pace that Brussels. A bit less touristy with waffle, chocolate and beer shops being few and far between. As usual, Lena had her own agenda on what she wanted to see and how she wanted to get there. Traveling with a toddler isn’t the most relaxing thing ever but luckily she’s just a little thing and can be thrown over Daddy’s shoulder when needed.
While we enjoy looking at beautiful buildings and exploring the historical significance of new places, our favorite part of traveling is definitely the food. Most of our travel budget goes toward delicious meals so when we happened upon this little gem of a restaurant boasting an organic menu, we were excited. And Reliva did not disappoint! We were seated in a private, enclosed garden at the back of the restaurant with views of the local clock towers barely visible above the vine-covered walls. The waiter was quick to bring pencils and paper to keep the Diva occupied after recommending a delicious local brew for Jason. We both ordered a seafood dish (totally out of character for me) while Lena had some of the most delicious spaghetti we’d ever tasted. It was definitely the highlight of our day though the cuddles from my little barnacle at the end of the meal didn’t hurt either.
After our delicious lunch, we strolled toward the Church of Our Lady, stopping for the obligatory tourist photos along the way. The interior wasn’t as ornate as some churches we’ve seen but was beautiful in it’s simplicity. We timed our visit just right for capturing the light behind this stained glass window. I don’t think I’ll ever tire of seeing these massive walls of color and story.
On our way to the Market Square, we were nearly tramped by several horse drawn carriages, much to Lena’s delight. They were traveling faster than the cars and gave far less notice of their presence. We also found an amazing little Christmas shop where we purchased our one and only souvenir from our Belgium trip: Christmas ornaments. After purchasing a pickle (for the baby on the way), a wooden Noah’s ark (Lena’s choice) and a nutcracker for Jason and me, we realized our Belgian trinkets were actually German. So we didn’t quite get an authentic keepsake but the memories will be fun nevertheless.
Our final stop on our Brugge extravaganza was a visit to the Basilica of the Holy Blood. It was originally built in the 12th century and is home to a relic of the Holy Blood. The interior was incredibly ornate with every surface boasting meticulous detail.
As a reward for being such a trooper all day, we treated Lena to a horse and buggy ride before heading back to the train. She was giddy with excitement until we got into the actual carriage and then it was all business. Our tour guide gave us a running commentary the duration of the ride but we could neither hear nor understand him so that was a bust. After all the excitement of being pulled around by the horsies, Lena passed out long enough for us to stop in for one last beer at De Haalve Maan Brewery.