On Sunday, September 4th, we took a direct train out of Paris and arrived in Bruges at about 2:00pm. After walking for about a half hour, with our packs on, we arrived at HI Europa Hostel. Our initial impression was that it was completely deserted and we were very happy to see that a receptionist was there. We took our pillow cases and sheets and made our way to our "comfort suite.". What makes this suite so 'comfortable' is the fact that it only has four single beds instead of say 20, and the bathroom is in your room. They only provide one sheet and one pillowcase to cover the dingy mattress and pillows. Thank god we remembered to bring our sleep sacks and towels! It actually was not as bad as I thought it would be and was almost, dare I say, clean... It cost each of us about 32 EUR/night and you can't really beat that!
After unpacking, we made our way into the old city, which was about a ten minute walk from our hostel. Bruges is one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited. The old architecture and the tiny cobblestones streets are insanely charming. The one unfortunate thing about the place is that it has become extremely overrun by tourists; however, once all the tour buses leave at about 7pm, the place is a ghost town. Bruges is known specifically for it's fries, beer, waffles, and of course the infamous Belgian chocolate. So we basically ate our way through this gorgeous city.
The first evening in Bruges, we found an incredible courtyard area and dined on beef stew, frites and our first Belgian beer, Leffe Blond. It was absolutely delicious - beyond words actually, just complete comfort food. We wandered around for quite a bit enjoying getting lost and stumbling upon some of the cutest homes, shops, and churches we have ever seen. We even found a store called Brooklyn and they sell Franklin and Marshall shirts. Go figure! I tried my first Belgian chocolate and it was heavenly!
We found a great pub that served 100 different beers. The great thing is most of them are under 4,00 EUR so its cheap to drink! I tried the Brugse Zot, one of the only beers still brewed within the city and it was so smooth and delicious. My personal goal was to try all of them, but unfortunately we ran out of time. On our way back to the hostel that evening, we stumbled upon a jam session in a great little pub. It was simply a bunch of musicians coordinating to play some songs. It was an extremely cool vibe and a perfect ending to the night. I'll share the video at a later date!
When we got back to the hostel, there were actually some people there! We went into the lobby to meet them and make some new traveling friends. There were two people from Canada that were on the tail end of their trip after a religious excursion in Madrid. He was Korean and barely spoke anything, she was Mexican and spoke Spanish and English and we still are confused about if they were a couple and what language, besides hand gestures, they used to communicate with one another. There was another guy, Federico, from Argentina, who is studying abroad in Germany, currently taking advantage of his time in Europe and traveling solo. It was so nice meeting traveling friends from all over. We talked with Federico for quite awhile and hoped to see him the following day. It was an awesome day in Bruges!!