Thursday, May 28, 2015

Can I stay here?

What a lovely day! I woke up this morning still a little bit high from my introduction to Westvleteren yesterday. Still can't believe I'll be bringing two bottles back with me. After researching this beer, I had assumed that if I couldn't get to the abbey myself, I wouldn't be able to get it at all. Turns out that it is widely available in the bottle shops here in Bruges (and presumably elsewhere in Belgium). But it is mostly going for about 12 Euros a bottle, so getting it for 4 Euros is an incredible bargain. Here is me opening my first "Westy." 

Today, we rode out to the coast. We were advised to avoid the Belgian coast because it was mostly urbanized, so we headed north on the LF1 to Sluis, just over the Holland boarder and then on to the Dutch coast. The view of the sea and dunes was lovely, if windy. 


By that time, we had ridden 26 km, with the wind mostly at our backs, so we had a rest and some lunch, knowing that the ride back would be harder that the ride there. As it turns out, the wind shifted slightly to the west in the afternoon, so it was more a crosswind and occasionally a tailwind. Not so bad after all.

Before we set out this morning, we dropped our bags at  the new B&B (it being seemingly impossible to find 3 nights in a row at the same place in Bruges). We were a little sad to leave our amazing little B&B of last night, but the new place seems very nice too and is inside the walls, so more convenient for exploring the old city. After returning from our ride, we rested for a bit and then headed out to explore Bruges in a little more detail. For Sonia, that meant browsing the lace shops. For me, it meant exploring the beer scene. I had heard of a famous local bar called De Garre and tried to find it. Let me tell you, Google maps will not help you very much here. It's  in a tiny street just off the main Markt, no wider than a door. 

The house beer, a blond tripel is very tasty and turned out to be the best beer I tried there. But they also had Gulden Draak and Gulden Draak Quad on tap, which I couldn't pass up. Both were good, but the house tripel is outstanding. They also had a really nice menu of bottles, but I would have needed a true Belgian beer geek along with me to make sense of it. 

After perusing a few bottle shops nearby (and a few lace boutiques with Sonia), we continued wandering around the city. Truly, for sheer prettiness, it is the nicest town we've been through on this trip. Weeping willows overhanging canals, gorgeous old cathedrals towering over well-kept and clean cobblestone streets, and not too many tourists (at least not this early in the season). The weather will dictate what we do tomorrow. If  it's not looking too rainy, we'll do a short ride somewhere and do some more wandering around town. 

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