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We boarded the train to Brussels. It was a very uneventful trip, all we really wanted to do was sleep. After we hit Brussels we walk around the station, lost like 2 normal tourists trying to find the train to Bruges. We finally figure out thanks to the help from somebody who works at the station. As it turns out the last train to Bruges was late so there was a massive amount of people waiting. We finally make it on, we are clueless about our luggage so we are trying to cram it under our seats. We finally gave up and sat down, exhausted, legs all twisted weird trying to accommodate our luggage. I felt bad for our seat-mate! We make it to Bruges and its sleeting outside and we can’t find my brother who was meeting us at the station. We finally realize the little restaurant he told us to meet him at had 2 locations in the station. Finally! We take the bus into the center and check in at the hotel and leave our bags in the room. We stayed at Martin’s Brugge and I HIGHLY recommend it. Its right off the city center, its quiet, its clean, nicely decorated and not too expensive. We had some issues with the wi-fi but other than that absolutely no complaints.

Already Angie is in love with Bruges. I can see it in her eyes. We’ve been in Bruges for 1 hour and she is in love and I am totally okay with that. My brother takes us to an Irish pub called Boru which was amazing! We both had the Irish steak with frites and a salad and it was delicious. It has a great atmosphere, very dark, very Irish. It was a nice relaxing late lunch for us that we desperately needed. In the middle of lunch my brother left to get his daughter from school and Angie and I went back to the center and found Bill (my brother) and his daughter. We hung out, waited for my sister-in-law and then went with them to dinner. Since we had just ate we didn’t eat but I love the bar we went to. For the life of me I can’t remember the name of it but it serves amazing spaghetti. After dinner we headed back to the hotel to sleep. By then we were absolutely exhausted. We slept for a good 12 hours.

The 8th we met up with my brother, sister-in-law and niece and went to his best friends house. I am good friends with his best friend, his wife and I finally was able to meet their little boy. We had a good time over at their house. John made us pancakes which were delicious. We hung out, talked and laughed. We all tried to convince Angie to move but she wouldn’t budge. But maybe if we win the lottery we can buy a summer home there. Right, Angie? Forgot to add we also went to lunch with my sister-in-law and her grandma and that was a fun time. And again, I forgot the name of the restaurant but it was Italian and it was amazing. I’m bad about restaurant names I am realizing.

On the 9th we went to my brothers house, enjoyed some home-made potato soup and visited with the family. We helped put up the Christmas tree and just hung around. It was nice seeing my brother.

On the 10th I honestly don’t remember what we did. I think we walked around a lot and took a lot of pictures. That was basically the gist of our entire Belgium experience. People like Rick Steves and other travel guides say all you need is 2-3 days in Bruges but I don’t believe that. I think that you can spend a week at least in Bruges and still not see it all!

The 11th more walking around and taking pictures.. We met up with Bill and his family and my niece was having a bad day so we ended up going to…wait for…wait…wait…McDonald’s! I know, I know. It was…well it was McDonald’s. Nothing special there!

The 12th we did a ton of shopping. I purchased a lot of souvenirs for people, went to the Christmas market and ate there and people watched for awhile. We relaxed back at the hotel and then went to a romantic dinner at my favorite pizza place in Bruges-Carlitos (address is Hoogstraat 21). We both had a cheese pizza. When you order you get a massive pizza all to yourself. That’s a normal meal there! I’ve been to eat there every trip to Bruges and it never disappoints. I recommend it to everyone.

The morning of the 13th went to Carpe Diem which is a great tea room (address is Wijngaardstraat 8). I highly recommend this place. They have amazing waffles, crepes. All different sorts of toppings for said waffles and crepes. Prices aren’t too bad either. We relaxed there for a good hour and took our time with our meal. Angie had a pancake with bananas, ice cream, cream and chocolate sauce. I had a waffle with powdered sugar, a coffee and orange juice. My mouth may or not be watering thinking about this… After that we went to La Rose a little shop I’ve bought glass rings from. They had no glass rings but I bought a whole ring set (5 rings) for about 30 Euros. The address is Groeninge 1. While pricy everything is hand-made and I really enjoy browsing. The people running the shop are very helpful. After that went to Church of Our Lady which is beautiful! Definitely stop by there if you make it to Bruges. From there went to the Historium (in the main market square) which is like a fusion/interactive museum with videos, smells, scenery, special effects. I really enjoyed it. From there we went to the Salvador Dali exhibit which I have been to but that’s always an enjoyment. I always wonder what it was like to be in Dali’s head! That evening we went to my brothers house for some Flemish stew which was amazing and I want the recipe to make here in the States!

When we made it back to the hotel we were pretty tired, it was cold and it was raining a bit. We settled in and we were both relaxing in bed, on our computers and watching TV. Angie leaned over and handed me a package all wrapped up like they do in Bruges. I was super excited about a gift! I opened it up and it was a beautiful antique silver ring. Then I heard “Will you marry me?” and almost fell off the bed and I am pretty sure I giggled uncontrollably for awhile. Of course I said yes! I’M ENGAGED! ENGAGED!!!The ring!

The 14th, still glowing, we checked out of the hotel and my brother picked us up and we went to his house. I told him I was engaged in the car and he didn’t believe me then yelled at me for not doing it in a proper way! (I’m not a fan of having so much attention on me). He told me to tell his wife at dinner and make it into a big thing so she’ll scream and get all excited. We hung out there, took naps, did laundry. I told Lavinia at dinner and she didn’t believe me (I’m not real good at making big announcements I’ve noticed). We dropped off my niece at her grandma’s to stay over and we went out on the town. We couldn’t find a parking spot and realized there was a marathon going on in Bruges with thousands of people running through the streets. First we headed to Charlie Rockets (Hooghstraat 19) and had some drinks, played some pool, and listened to a band play. It was packed, it was hard to even move but we had a good time. From there we went to Vino Vino (Grauwwerkersstraat 15) which is such a fun place. We ordered some tapas and some drinks and hung out. They had great jazz music playing and it was a lively crowd. I recommend that place to everyone. Its always a good time.

The 15th we did some last minute shopping then packed and got ready to depart the next day for home. I was very sad and not looking forward to a big day of travel but it had to be done. We left on the 16th. The flight was fine, albeit boring (aren’t they all?). It was a very uneventful day and we made it home by 6:30 or so on Sunday.

I had such a great time in Belgium and Paris. It was exactly what I needed after the death of my step-father. I miss our time there but looking at pictures will have to suffice for awhile. No more trips for awhile. I am starting school soon and we want to buy a house and now we have a wedding to plan! I hope you readers have enjoyed my trip report. For awhile it will have to be local updates. But the older I get the more I realize St Louis (and surrounding areas) has a lot to offer and I am looking forward to exploring more of the area while I dream about another European adventure!