Friday, September 12, 2008

In Bruges, 'Tis A-Mazing

Ah, the maze.

My dear friend Sting (he'll deny knowing me - we made a pact years ago ) sings songs from there.

My dear friend (and guru to the stars) Cathy holds much importance in the power of the labyrinth. She believes, and has taught me, that meditating upon one one can bring one a centering, tranquil peace.

Did I mention that Bruges, Belgium kind of looks like a labyrinth? Looky here:

(click to enlarge on the civil engineering, one-way- street-rich madness that is the City of Bruges)

See how in this labyrinth, all the juicy bits are in the middle?

Therein lies both the genius and the anguish.

It will make grown men weep, trying to negotiate their way into the nougat center. And it will make women wish they had an iron-clad guarantee that, should they throw themselves from a moving vehicle, they would only suffer slight abrasions & contusions.

The only meditating I did as we drove around this maze for an hour and a half was how I could possibly slit my husband's throat (and then my own, of course!) with the maps in order to end the suffering.

Insults were flying - mine snidely remarking on the vanishing of his almost always-present sense of direction, his snapping because I was unable to simultaneously co-ordinate the local city map, the English Google Map, and the non-existent Flemish streets signs (all of which have at least 20 vowels and a minimum of 2 consenents - it's the law).

I do not know Flemish.

And having been phlegmish on occassion? Not the same thing.


However, despite our bickering, we finally made it to the gooey, yummy center of the old city, to our delicious hotel, Relais Bourgondisch Cruyce (which I learned about from the movie "In Bruges"), where they gave us the key to their magic kingdom:

(Much prettier than the normal card, and MUCH harder to steal. Quite bulky)

And, to quote Ralph Fiennes' character Harry in the movie, it was like a fairy tale. A f**king fairy tale.

Imagine, if you will, that one of those little snowy ceramic Christmas villages somehow is made to real-life scale. This is Bruges.

It is just one of the most medieval, exquisite, picturesque places I have ever been to. Each building top has its own uniqueness, like this:

and this:
Carrying my new-found confidence of being the best photographer on the face of the earth (see here), I even managed to get some groovy reflection pictures on our early morning stroll:
(click to enlarge; our hotel was the one just about the black sign facing the canal)

(yup. I'm just waiting for that call from National Geographic an-ny day now...)

The Baron and I, once settled in and nourished, agreed that we would both go off-page of our respective food plans for four things Belgium is known for.

1. Beer - I was the only drinker in our duo. I give it a hearty "meh". It was smooth, yes, but living in MicroBrewery world, I've had better. (and yes, that's what she said...)

2. Fries - I have heard tale that these are supposed to be amazing. Not so much.

3. Chocolate - Well. Things here definitely looked up. We stopped at a boutique chocolateria, and I had an Orangette (chocolate covered orange peel), and the Baron had full on Ganache-filled chocolate. This, miraculously, completely obliterated all of the painful squawking of earlier.

Like morphine, but creamier.

4. Waffles - I hate to buy into country stereotypes, but Oh. My. Gawd. Belgians so get it. Take a look for yourself:

(It really WAS like eating a cloud)

Sadly, we had to bid a fond adieu to Belgium all too quickly.

I really would have loved to have moused around in the maze much, much longer.

I wouldn't even mind the dead ends:


{i}Post said...

i am drooling over this! How gorgeous (and quite pretty postcards too, i must add). I simply must visit there some day.

But i worry about the hotel rooms in foreign countries (besides Canada, of course ;0) were the rooms?

Baroness von Bloggenschtern said...

Countess iPost: Waffles for everyone!!

The rooms were lovely. In Paris they were pretty small, but everywhere else they were just normal. And clean.

I'm all about the clean. Former Holiday Inn chambermaid, don't cha know? (I guess you might not).

Cormac Brown said...

Did you run into Colin Farrell or Brendan Gleeson? Do they serve the same watery (but flavorful) spaghetti that they do in Ostend? And finally, was everything covered in butter, as I understand they are prone to do (not a "Last Tango" reference BTW)?

Lisa said...

Hmmm .... those pics made me drool too. I had not considered a trip to Brugges, but will have to add this to my ever-growing list of places to visit. Your description of the Christmas village city reminded me of Erice -- a little village on the top of a mountain in Sicily. I'll have to excavate some photos and post, but be forewarned -- National Geographic never (and won't ever) come looking for me. ....barbrapeapod

Mental P Mama said...

You are both funny and a great tour guide. I bet you will hear from National Geographic before you know it! I wonder how many WW points those waffles are....

Baroness von Bloggenschtern said...

Count Cormac: Oh, how I would to have loved to run into Brendan Gleeson - I adore him!! I think he would be a highly entertaining fellow. Mr. Farrell? Eh. This was the first movie I actually liked him in.

I do know know of Ostend; we not eating pasta b/c of food plans. Now I'm kind of glad we didn't! As for the LTIP reference (which I did not know either), the visual of Brando covered in butter just made me throw up a little in my mouth...

Countess Babs: Please, please - some photos of Erice!! If you thought I was serious about the NG thing, you are funnier than I thought!!

Countess MPM: Considering that the waffles was about 1/2 ounce batter and 1/2 lb. of air, I think if you had one only, it would be about 8 points. Well worth it, in my estimation.

Lisa said...

national geographic is looking for you just like saturday night live is looking for me! ...babspeapod

Baroness von Bloggenschtern said...

Countess Babs: EXACTLY!

Cormac Brown said...

"visual of Brando covered in butter just made me throw up a little in my mouth..."

Ahhhhh, you crack me up! No, Brando wasn't covered in butter in that film, it had something to do with Maria Schneider. I understand Les Belges like to cook everything with butter, to excess.

Baroness von Bloggenschtern said...

Count C: Did not notice an overabundance of butter usage (in cooking), yet the hair conditioner in our hotel room washroom made me strangely crave for toast.


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