Out in the Rain
I had a pretty good afternoon. I skipped out on lunch a little bit early to take advantage of the conference's offer of a free boat trip. Good timing, too, as when the trip was over, conference-goers were lined up pretty deep to get on a boat. I found it interesting that the guide found English to be the most appropriate language for the tour, but it seems like the largest contingent of tourists is from the UK, and others are just as likely to speak English as any other language. The trip was very relaxing, especially since the weather has been very warm here. It's a very attractive town, but the trip just confirmed my belief that the "sights" aren't as interesting as the overall medieval ambiance.
One "sight" that I was particularly interested in seeing was the Belfort (or Belfry). It towers over the Markt, and for 100 BF you can climb it. Sounded cool. So I did. Apparently this is where they kept the important city documents of Brugge after the previous place to do so burned down in the 13th century (oops). The views of the city, and the canal heading north to the Black Sea were quite nice. I hope my pictures captured some of the feeling.
After that exertion, I decided to head back to the hotel to cool off. I felt much better after a couple of hours of rest and decided to head out again. As I was leaving, I noticed a few sprinkles of rain. "Good," I thought, "that'll cool everything off." A few blocks later the rain was coming down harder than anything I had been out in in years, and the water running down my glasses had helped me get lost (OK, and my general knack for getting lost was the main culprit). I was going to duck into the first cafe I saw, but a few minutes later, I was soaked from head to toe, and no cafe was in sight. I pulled out my map, which was disintegrating by the minute, and with the help of my trusty compass made my way back to the hotel.
Half an hour and a complete change of clothes later, I headed back out. I did some present shopping, then decided since I'm getting some form of food at tonight's "rump session" (can't tell you what kind of food, since the rain got to that piece of paper, too), I'd have a light dinner. So I got a small order of fries from a street vendor. I've heard many people say good things about Belgian fries, and let me tell you that they're all true. I even decided to go all the way and get mayonnaise on them (I don't like mayonnaise). It was good! I don't think I could do that at home, unless I became a mayonnaise snob ("Oh, American mayonnaise, yuck!"). So I decided that coming here to Bruges Online was a better diversion than going to the poster session -- I'll have a chance to see the posters in between the two parts of the rump session. But I better head out and see what food and alcohol they're offering before I have to sit through the first part...