Goodbye to Luxembourg and hello to the final country of our tour (we will also go to Paris on our own upon completion of the tour). Our stopping point of the night is Bruges, Belgium but first we have to complete the 200 mile journey there. After a short drive on the motorway our bus took off on some country roads for a scenic drive to Orval Abbey, an old monastery famous for Trappiste beer and cheese. Getting there turned out to be a bit more difficult than planned. We encountered several road closures causing our bus driver to have to divert out of the way several times. At one point we went down a very narrow road only to find it completely closed! I wonder what the homeowners thought to see a large tour bus making a 3-point turn using their narrow gravel driveway! Along the way we added an extra country to our itinerary as we diverted through a portion of France trying to find some open roads.
We arrived at the Abbey later than expected; however, it was a nice place to explore. Originally built in 1070, it was destroyed during the French Revolution then rebuilt in 1926. We were able to see some of the ruins and the new buildings still in use. They still make beer and cheese at the Abbey and use the profits to maintain buildings and keep the Abbey running. There are also overnight retreats available for 2 to 7 day night stays.
Next stop was the town of Dinant, it is the birthplace of Adolf Sax – inventor of the saxophone. Dinant is exactly the type of place that Lance and I enjoy – pretty river town with lots of street for wandering and exploring, a great place to spend some time. However, here is where I have to vent a bit, the streets in town were completely torn up so much that walking around was not only difficult, it was also somewhat dangerous. I don’t just mean here or there, but everywhere there were huge holes as they seemed to be laying underground pipes all over. In addition, many stores were closed. I feel that the tour company should have known this and arranged for a different stop – most times this would have been wonderful, but not right now or for several months.
Anyway, vent over and moving on! Our group arrived in Brugge at around 5 or 5:30 giving us a little time to take the 10 minute walk to town for a bite to eat before meeting back at the hotel for a horse carriage ride around town. The carriage ride was enjoyable and gave us a nice overview for our time here today. This morning we took a short walking tour of Brugge along with a canal ride then spent some time looking around on our own. Brugge is a very well preserved medieval city and were really have enjoyed the buildings and architecture. One thing I would love to do is to go inside some of the homes, 25,000 people live in the old town in restored homes and I would love to see the interiors and how they have been modified. When in Belgium you have to have beer and waffles, so before coming back to the hotel for a while this afternoon we enjoyed some waffles and ice cream and we may go back for a beer later this afternoon. Tonight’s dinner is at an old farmhouse just outside of town and should be a nice treat!
Tomorrow we leave Brugge for our final stop – Brussels. Along the way we will see Ghent, another city with many buildings preserved from medieval times and located in the Flemish area of Belgium (as is Brugge).