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2/2024 – Birthday in Bruges

February is a great time to visit Bruges without crowds but the weather is a bit iffy. Rain was the theme of our 6 days in Bruges. All activities occurred between rain showers! We wandered in and out of the streets and along the canals, stopping at various breweries (Half Moon, Bourgogne de Flandres, Le Garre) to get out of the rain. Mark has a favorite chocolate shop from our first visit to Bruges in 1990. It was not where we thought it was, resulting in a multi-day hunt. It moved but is still owned by the same family. The granddaughter runs it.
We continued the art theme and visited the St. Jan Hospital Museum where they have a Hans Memling exhibit of paintings owned by the convent. They clearly were not poor nuns!

A lonely street in the evening. Bruges is pretty much deserted in February after the work day is finished. Very few tourists wandering around.
Men have it so easy. These urinals are at the Saturday market. Women have to search for a bathroom!
We had the laundromat to ourselves until 3 American teenage guys came in. They were in Bruges with a group of soccer players and needed to wash their sweaty clothes. They had no idea how to use a Belgian laundry. We came to their rescue after watching them for a few minutes – sent them to the store up the street to get change, showed them which detergent to buy from the machine and even gave them a 10 cent piece since the laundry detergent machine only took exact change. We left them waiting for the washing machine to finish and figured they could figure out the dryer on their own!
Chocolate shoes!
Yes, this is a chocolate purse dyed to look green.
One of the many canals in Bruges.
Le Garre brewery. This place is TINY. We’ve tried 3 times to have a beer here – one time it was closed, another time it was SO smoky we didn’t even go in. Third time’s a charm – open, 2 chairs and it’s non-smoking now.
Happy Birthday champagne!
Mussels for birthday dinner.

One day we spent on a WWI tour with a great tour guide – Lucas. He picked us up at 9 AM and we visited Passendale, Hill60, Tynecot Commonwealth Cemetery, Dr. John McRae memorial, Ypres Salient, a farm with ammunition collection, Yorkshire Bunker in the middle of an industrial park, and a German Cemetery.

Ypres was demolished by WWI and completely rebuilt in the medieval style.
A bomb hole from WWI
Tynecote Commonwealth Cemetery. British bodies weren’t repatriated but buried in Belgium or France where they died.