“After I killed them, I dropped the gun in the Thames, washed the residue off me hands in the bathroom of a Burger King, and walked home to await instructions. Shortly thereafter, the instructions came through: ‘Get the f*** out of London, youse dumb f***s. Get to Bruges.’ I didn’t even know where Bruges f***ing was.”
“It’s in Belgium.”
“Bruges is a s***hole.”
“Bruges is not a s***hole.”
“Bruges is a s***hole.”
“Ray, we’ve only just got off the f***ing train. Could we reserve judgment on Bruges until we’ve seen the f***ing place?”
“I know it’s gonna be a s***hole.”
I’m sorry Colin Farrell, but you are WRONG! If you have ever seen the film “In Bruges,” you’ll understand the ridiculous dialogue above. If you have never seen the film “In Bruges,” I suggest that you watch it, but only if you can bear hearing a four-letter-word every five seconds and have a strong stomach.
Unlike the film, my second experience in Bruges fortunately did not involve unlimited swearing, nor hitmen, nor displeasure. I was very happy to get back to one of my favorite European cities! (You can read about my first visit to Bruges here.) I stayed at the same hostel – Snuffel Backpacker Hostel – yet still got lost trying to find it. After stopping to ask a few times, I saw the beloved sign hanging from the door and checked in. The guy who was working the desk explained everything to me, and after he had finished I said, “Okay great! I stayed here last year so I’m glad to be back.” He responded, “Why did you just let me talk for 2 minutes about everything if you’ve already stayed here?!” Muahaha. Just wanted to refresh my memory!
After dropping my things off, I met up with Christina and Anna who are also assistants in Douai and were in Bruges at the same time as me. Not only did we all three travel to Bruges, but I also ran into two assistants from Hazebrouck who were there and knew three other assistants from Douai who would be in town later that week. Apparently Bruges is the place to be! We dedicated the rest of the day mostly to walking around and exploring the streets near the main square. Since it was already a bit late in the afternoon, most museums and other monuments were closed for the day. I still managed to find places that I hadn’t seen when I was there last August.
The night ended in the usual Snuffel fashion full of beer, new international friends, me trying to pronounce the difference between an English and an Australian accent for said new international friends (guess where they were from!) and a gooooooooood night’s sleep. The next morning I had breakfast with the gang and then headed to the bell tower around noon. Lunch consisted of fries and was washed down shortly after with a Brugse Zot beer, which was included at the end of the tour of the Brugse Zot brewery that Christina, Anna and I went to. After the fries and beer, a canal boat tour was in order. What better way to relax on a gorgeous day in Bruges?! (The city is always beautiful, unlike Colin Farrell’s opinion, but the weather is usually quite similar to the north of France: rainy and cold.)
After the boat ride, we motivated to climb the 350~ steps up to the top of the belfry. Narrow spiral staircase. Uneven stone steps. Severe lack of hand rails. Anna put it best: “If Bruges had a purgatory, this would be it…” After a few breaks, perhaps a bit of swearing (this is the 15 minutes where I maybe came close to disliking Bruges, if it’s even possible), and lots of steps, we made it to the top. Unfortunately, going down was just as difficult. The staircase was so narrow that if anyone was going past you, it was necessary to stop and plaster yourself against the wall so that they could get by! Ay yay yay. We rewarded ourselves by purchasing Belgian chocolates, eating a traditional waffle with whipped cream, and treating ourselves to half of a chicken for dinner. We did burn all those calories at the belfry, right?!
In conclusion: Bruges is NOT a s***hole. It is quite the opposite. And it was quite confusing to know that I had to speak English to get around… I almost felt rude because I didn’t speak the local language (Dutch/Flemish); I’ve gotten used to the fact that I live in France and speak French every day, and it was just strange to be that tourist who doesn’t know a word of the local language. I would even say “pardon” instead of “sorry” when I would accidentally bump into someone! I also forgot the word for “airport” once; I called it an “airplane station.” Sheesh. French Haley is French.
Up Next: Hannover, Germany!