2013 0814 Brugge: Oh, our last day of the cruise with London arrival and disembarking tomorrow morning. We made the best of it in beautiful Brugge. Ship docked at Zeebrugge, which is about 20 km from Brugge. Left ship about 9:00 and found out that (1) the shuttle bus would not be back until a 9:30 departure, and (2) the bus only takes one to the nearby train station where a train goes into Brugge every hour. An enterprising couple from Australia (Graeme and Helen from Melbourne) approached us and asked if we’d like to share a taxi ride into town. She checked the price and it was 50 euros and we’d be delivered right to Market Square, the center of the city. Yes. Good choice. Nice driver who really went fast (over the limit) and told us she’d also pick us up. We arranged for her to meet us where she was dropping us off at 4:00. So, good ride in and back and good conversation with the folks from Melbourne.

Started in Market Square, which is quite big. Went over to the building that houses the Belfry Tower, waited in line (talked to a couple from Yorkshire), were “carded” by the ticket seller to see if we were really 65 or older (made our day), and then climbed the 366 stone and wooden spiral staircase to the top of the tower. And the steps get smaller and smaller as you go up. And there are people coming down as you are going up (or the other way on your way down). Stopped where all the bells are and stopped again where the carillon is. Both sound about every 15 minutes, and they did while we were up there. Great view over the city, its churches and buildings, its canals and into the countryside where we could see wind farms.

From there we walked over to Burg Square. Another big square with buildings from several centuries on its side. Started to go into town hall, but decided not to. Found Church of the Holy Blood and went into its lower and its upper chapels. Then out of the square and a circuitous route to the Church of Our Lady. It’s under restoration, but you can get in and see the Michelangelo “Madonna and Child,” and early piece of his. Beautiful church even with all the restoration going on inside.

Walked to Simon Steen Plein and found a nice place to eat in the middle of the square: Poules Moules. Ah, a huge portion of mussels and fries (moules and frites). Did you know that frites were invented in Belgium and not in France? Oh, we washed all this down with beer.

The rest of the afternoon we wandered along various streets looking at shops, canals, sculpture, people. Ended up at coffee shop where taxi driver was going to pick us up. The Australian couple joined us and we went back to the ship.

Marian started packing and then took a nap until 7:00. We have 8:30 dinner reservations in Toscana with Carol and Ken West. Then packing and packing and getting ready for tomorrow going through immigration on the ship with the UK officials. Oh, and we get to set our clocks back an hour tonight, too.

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