Chocolate and Lace

Today we spent the morning in Bruges. This is a lovely little town in Belgium. We came into this port on the second day of our vacation. Not having slept fully yet from the transfer over the pond, I was still a little cranky, but looking forward to seeing this quaint little place that I had heard delightful things about. We boarded our coach to start our excursion with our number 8 on the left chest to identify our group. The gentleman who was to do the tour on the coach was an older Belgium gentleman of perhaps 75, maybe more. He seemed nice enough and began to give us the information about the area as we drove through the industrial and residential as well as the city that surrounded Bruges. While on this twenty five minute drive, he told us about the countryside and the affect of World War II and we gathered that he had been there. Although his words were in English his accent was very thick and some or most of the words were not the correct ones for the description that he attempted. But we knew what he was trying to say it just took our minds a little while to get the meaning. Then we arrived to the parking area for such tours as ours and began to get instructions on what would follow and if we should get lost, etc. Moving forward we divided into two groups to see the sights of this ancient cobblestone town that had lived through the war and still maintained its beauty long after. The history and architecture unfolded, however we could not hear a word of it from our tour guide who was the other gentleman of the same age as the first. He did not speak loud enough for us to hear nor did he give us any information. Soon the group huddled next to another tour guide from a different group just to hear some of the interesting things being said about the area. So the group began to dismantle to some degree and we were a part of the few remaining . The town was so beautiful that it showed us many things that words could not express. The cars, bikers and horses had the right of way so I was glad that my husband was there to get me through without injury. Then we came to the second leg which was a canal ride. I truly was in dire need of a toilet and had ask when we would be nearing one and each time I was told in a little while. Others began to agree that the little while was wearing thin with our patience and so as we neared the canal I knew that I was not going to make it through the trip without pause. When I asked again I was directed to the man with a captain’s hat ( also, of a certain age). He has his foot out as not to let me pass and then says 50. So I look to my husband for the correct change and then I ask where to go. He responds “ In the canal”. Well, as I said earlier , I was a little testy so I told him that I did not appreciate his humor as everyone was laughing and I was feeling embarrassed running along to do my business. Once relieved, my personality changed for the better. The canal ride was glorious and a English man gave us details beyond our imagination. Flowers were about the windows and the doors were inviting. Drainpipes were decorated with gargoyles and rooflines had creative designs that would appeal to any eye. The bridges were delightful. Each gave way to the new adventure that would come to you once you passed under one. It certainly gave the impression that the Belgium people were interesting and hospitable and as most quaint towns in the world they offer a simpler life. We left the canal with a good feeling of being refreshed in spirit and now we needed to do the same for our bodies as our stomachs began to respond to the sights of the little café’s with advertisement for Moules and Frittes or Mussels and Fries. We knew that the Mussels in Brussels were known to be very good so we set our goal to shop for chocolates and lace, and then attempt to have some for lunch. When we entered the Lace shop it was full with people talking with excitement over the art of the product they were viewing. I realized that I did not have time to wander leisurely so I set myself in the direction of the wall facing me and when the woman handling the counter looked up at me I decided to ask if I should remove this one or was this a display. In her broken English she demanded that the people from the ship need to give her time and have patience. It was true, we all had an agenda and so I too looked around anxiously then then settled on a couple items that reminded me of a slower time that I needed to respect. A time when multi tasking was not status quo, and one thing at a time was our motto so that we could get the job done well. So, I remembered that and then I moved toward the desk. Eight euros and thirty was the final cost, and we moved on to the Chocolate. This was easy as the aroma created a sedative affect on me as I entered the shop and once again I must decide quickly as there was a lot to choose from. Since I am partial to dark chocolate it made my decision less stressful to select an amount and let the lady behind the counter do the rest. She was pleasant and talked to me about the Chocolatier , one of four in Belgium to use the original process. I was very pleased with my purchase. Thirty minutes was all the time left to eat. My husband did not feel that we had enough time to eat. Europeans do not rush like the Americans. We ordered a fruited cherry beer and asked about time for food . As we watched her deliver coffee and beer and an occasional Belgium waffle (yum) to the tables about , we decided on some soup of the day, some garlic bread and yes please frittes ( to go if possible). No problem. It was very good and not at all of the fast food family. The butter dripped from the soft bread with the flavor of garlic and the soup was a light broth of leaks and carrots. The frittes to go were over the top but a must have experience that we shared with others on the bus. I wanted to stay a whie longer to enjoy a horse and buggy ride though the winding streets of shops and homes that said “no hurry”.

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