Okay, so I'm still talking about Christmas vacation here. On the 6th of January, I met up with 6 other American exchange students and one Icelandic in Bruges, a really beautiful Flemish city. I had to get up ridiculously early, of course (5:45 to get ready and take the 7:18 train from Arlon). I mean, it IS on the other side of the country.
I had the first three hours on the train alone, but I met up with Austin and Liam in Brussels, and we took the train to Bruges together. We met everyone else in the train station in Bruges and walked from the station into the center of the city. We stopped first at the hostel to drop off our bags, and then stepped out into the light rain (or "heavy mist" as some of us like to call it) to explore Bruges.
We came first to the Belfry in the center of Bruges. There are over 300 steps to the top...so of course we took up the challenge.
Up and up and up...
But finally (actually, after about 15 minutes that seemed to last a lot longer), we reached the top. Here's a view of Bruges from the top of the Belfry. It's very red...definitely prettier than Arlon.
People from all over had signed the walls. So we could see all the people who had visited...and some who hadn't.
We stopped on the way down. There was a window from the staircase that looked down on one of the levels. I'm at the window, looking down. Now I just wonder why there was a window in the first place.
We finished climbing down the belfry, having successfully avoided being deafened by the bells, and continued our exploration. Walking along the street, I saw a nice little shop that probably describes most Belgians:
The next photos are along a canal that runs through Bruges.
This is a statue of some saint, but I have no idea which one.
I think it was about this point when we decided to open the Krieks that we'd brought along, only to realize nobody had a bottle opener. However, we managed well enough with an umbrella.
The buildings are all quite beautiful...
And EVERYONE in Flanders has a bicycle!
This is a church we stopped and looked into. It's actually great to look around at different churches...you get to see different types of architecture and art. Plus, it's free.
We managed to find a really inexpensive museum...entrance was only one euro. It was a lot of religious art, which got a little monotonous after a while, but it was rather interesting anyway. And occasionally there would be a rather surprising piece...like the painting of a walrus we saw near the end.
This is the courtyard leading to that museum...
...and this is the entrance.
We spent a little more time walking around the city, as it got gradually darker. Then we said goodbye to Austin and Liam (the rest of us were staying at the hostel), and headed to the hostel. Johanna and Lila made spaghetti for everyone, and we spent the evening trying to figure out Lila's card trick and tasting different beers. I tried Delirium and Bruges Zot... :)