Sunday, June 12, 2011

Belgium Bound

Monday morning we went with Fede for a tour of his lab at AMOLF he has a very nice lab and the facilities are brand spankin new. I tease Dale we are doing a tour of the laser labs of the world, it feels like that sometimes! Once we'd gotten enough of that we said goodbye to Fede and went to the Van Gough Museum. As we walked to the museum we saw these floating gardens in the canal that I thought were pretty cool.
The actual museum I was actually a little bit disappointed with. I loved the Van Gough pieces we had seen at the O'rsay museum in Paris but the pieces here I found less moving and actually there are not so many piece by Van Gough in the museum, only one of the floors is Van Gough and the rest are artists who inspired Van Gough or were inspired by Van Gough. Those pieces were still pretty interesting but I guess I had expected the whole museum to be Van Gough not just one floor. Anyway, after the museum we headed to the central station to travel to Brugge but on the way to the central station I snapped some pictures of typical Amsterdam. Below is an example of the architecture. There are those poles sticking out from the top of the buildings so furniture can be moved in and out of the buildings. 
The picture below, and I know it might be hard to see this small, is of a moving company moving someone's belongings out of the top floor of an apartment on the canal. Dale and I had fun watching the moving company work. I'll never think my moving experiences are difficult again! (ok, moving by bus was still pretty annoying!)
And no trip to Amsterdam is complete without a picture of the bikes everywhere. Some of the bike parking lots were piled four levels high! It really is pretty incredible just how much everyone bikes here. The country is almost entirely flat so it is pretty well set up for biking and with so many people in such a small country I don't know where the cars would go if that all had them. Then it was off to Belgium! After some train delays and train switching we made it to Brugge just in time for dinner!
 Brugge is a beautiful little medieval town almost on the coast of Belgium, and the town its self is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Brugge's history goes back over 2,000 years and it was the first port to establish trade with Scandinavia (around 750). After many prosperous years, the sea silted up in the area making Brugge landlocked and moving the trade up north a bit to Antwerp. We had a nice dinner in Brugge and had our first Belgium beer! Dale enjoyed a Brugge tripel followed by Leffe. I started the beer tour extremely strong with the Westvleteren 8 followed by the Westvleteren 6, the restaurant was listing the Westvleteren at Sextus and Dale and I forgot Sixtus and Westvleteren were the same or we would've jumped at the chance to try 'the best beer in the world', the Westvleteren 12, which they were selling at the restaurant. Anyway, the Westvleteren 8 ended up being my favorite Belgium beer of the whole trip and it's the first one I tried! How's that for luck?! I guess all that transportation problem finally paid off! Unfortunately though, Westvleteren is pretty hard to get a hold of so I didn't get to try the 8 again.

After dinner Dale and I walked through the beautiful main square and I snapped the two pictures below in the square. I just loved Brugge, such a nice little city! It was drizzling a bit so we didn't hang around long and went to sleep at the hostel in no time. 
Love Always,
P.S. If you want to get a feel for what Brugge is like and a trip there is not in your budget right now, rent the movie 'In Bruges'


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