Friday, 26 June 2009

planes, trains and automobiles

We had a day of varied transport. An uneventful automobile trip to the airport was followed by a cattle-class flight across Europe to Paris. The plane took off late so we were at the airport for over 4 hours. On the bright side the Air-France crew got us safely to our first destination. We arrived rather later though and had to hot tail it out of there to make our connecting train. What was reputed to be a 100 metre stroll turned out to be a one kilometre fast paced limp. We leapt on the train as it was pulling out and made it to Brussels. After a quick brekky we headed for the train to Brugge. I think that they pinched a train from India and plonked it in Belgium for the day. People were standing cheek to jowl, hundreds were hanging out windows and others and their cows were strapped to the top of the vehicle as the train laboured and grunted under the weight of cows, baggage and people. Okay, maybe it wasn't quite that bad, but it was close.

Brugge was a thriving and important seaport until the 16th century. Interestingly many of the buildings were rebuilt to original specifications in the 18th century. They made it all a bit more gothic than it had been to start with so now it's ubergothic.

This was outside the Gruuthuse museum. Apparently 'gruut' or 'gruit' was a herb that was used in beer. Mr Gruut had a monopoly on it and made a killing. When gruit was replaced by hops, Gruut was given the right to tax the brewers and managed to make even more money. How the rich do prosper!

This is the view from the top of the brewery.

Belgium is reputed to be have the best beer in the world, or so the Belgians say. Aussies would dispute that. Anyhow, in respect of our hosts I had to have a beer. Normally I get the glass to my face and back out. The yeasty fragrance is too much for me. But, being a good tourist, I gave it a go. It wasn't completely disgusting.

Brugge is quite lovely with its cobblestone streets, lovely old buildings and canals. It's a bit reminiscent of both Amsterdam and Venice, but at the same time it is quite different.

This pic is simply a case of playing with focus. I like it so I thought I'd chuck it in.

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