Bruges deserved a second day so after spending some time talking to our Dutch and English neighbors we headed into town to take a look at some other sites for the day. We were hoping it would be a little less crowded than on Friday but if anything it was busier.
Our first stop was the oldest bar in Bruges dating back to the 1560’s. One of the stories is that the famous Flemish painter Paul Reubens ran up a bar tab in the 1600’s that he did not have the cash to pay off, so he paid the bill with a painting. Hopefully they kept the painting long enough as it would have paid off whatever tab he ran up plus a million Euro or so today.
Something interesting happened as we walked to the bar. It is not in the tourist core of Bruges, and after we got a few blocks past the square we were suddenly alone. We were following a beautiful canal with really interesting buildings all around us, but hardly any tourists, just locals. We really enjoyed this stretch of the city.
On Friday we passed on a canal boat tour because of the crowds, but today despite the crowds being worst we felt obliged to do it. There were 40 seats on the boat and they were all filled. Our boat driver was multi-lingual so he did the tour in 4 languages, English, Dutch, French, and Spanish so we had to pay attention for when our explanation was coming. By this time we had walked all of the canals we went down on the boat a couple of times so we were familiar with the sites and the short explanation did not add much to our experience.
Ton treated me to a fathers day meal of Flemish Mussels which are a delicacy around here. After we started eating we realized that Delirium Brewery from Brussels had recently bought this place which was listed as one of the best restaurants and beer halls in town.
At the end of the day we returned to Half Maan Brewery for a tour. It is clear that lawyers are not the powerful force in Belgium that they are in the US. Our tour had us climbing up and down ladders and very small stairs thru working industrial space. At one point the tour guide let an 11 year old boy climb into a 500 liter beer tank, that would result in a fine from the safety inspector in the US. The brewery has a 2 mile pipeline for beer from the brewery to their bottling plant in the industrial outskirts of Bruges which is the longest beer pipeline in the world. The highlight was when we popped out on the roof of the brewery for a great view of the top of Bruges. The tour ended with a nice glass of Belgian Blonde Ale, and some soccer discussion about the US women and Timbers with another couple from Portland who were also on the tour.
As we headed back we heard voices near François and it turns out our English and Dutch neighbors had also just returned and were exchanging stories of their day. We joined in and an impromptu party broke out where some French wine, and Irish, and German beer was consumed. That is why this is being published a day late.