Time to head off to Bruges, Belgium (one of our favorite places) before we head back to Amsterdam to fly home on New Year’s Eve. Berlin Tegel is quite easy to get to from center city – hop on the TXL bus and in about 20 minutes you are at the old and dingy airport. We can’t figure out when the check-in desks open but the U.S. idea of checking in 2 hours before departure doesn’t exist here! Security is right at the gate because the airport is so old it has no place to do a central security. Everyone on the flight uses ONE security line and the line does not move quickly – take off coat, put phone, computer, Kindle, belt, in the bin. New airplane rule on Brussels Air … exit row cannot have anything under the seat in front of it.
After landing, we took the train to Brussels Midi and then to Bruges where we stayed at the IBIS. Standard IBIS – small room, clean bathroom, excellent breakfast. The ongoing mystery for us is why European bathtubs with showers are so deep. People with short legs have great difficulty getting out of the tub after a shower!
Belgium and Bruges are known for beer and chocolate and that’s what this stay was about – visit to Halve Moon Brewery for a beer and Bourgogne de Flandres brewery to do the tour – self-guided with a map to hunt down the moles in the brewery. Mark had a lovely chat with the brewer who’s working on a degree in brewing even although he has a degree in microbiology already. The Bourgogne de Flandres house beer is brown mixed with lambic and that makes a pretty nice sour beer for me. We also stopped at Trappist Beer Cellar (great selection of Belgium beers and knowledgeable staff) and Bieratelier Bruges -on Wijngaardstraat 13. Bieratelier is a tiny bar with 7 beers on tap, 6 of which are Christmas beers. We tried 4 of them. It’s a fun bar and the bartender is always helpful.
We had to buy some Neuhaus chocolate for a variety of people and make a stop at our favorite little chocolate shop in Philipstraat. We found this one in 1990 on our first visit to Bruges and have returned ever since.
One night dinner was at Malesherbes on Stoofstraat and you’ll need a good map to find this. Maleherbes was yummy and our splurge – champagne, pigeon pate with a side of duck foie gras, lamb filet that was rare and tender served with potatoes and ratatouille. Finally, we had chocolate mousse for dessert. This was a typical French meal – 3 hours. The manager told us they only do one seating at dinner so no one has to feel rushed. (more…)