Thursday, August 02, 2012

Netherlands July 28

We parted company with Sara and Robbert this morning.  We shall see if we are able to navigate on our own...

Skirting Middleburg, Netherlands (not to be confused with Middleburg, Belgium), we headed for the ferry to take us across the channel and towards Belguim. The ferry is for bikes and pedestrians only, since several years ago a tunnel was built.
There are no signs telling you that you are entering Belgium, no border crossing. In Sluis, we stopped for lunch and visited a VVV (tourist info) where we bought a cycling map to get us to Brugge.  Unlike in the US, there were no freebies.
We mostly followed a canal into Brugge.  It was a very popular route for cyclists, joggers, walkers, roller bladers and people fishing. There was even someone swimming up the canal.  That would be like one of those lap pools- you could go forever (kind of).
Fields of onions lined the paths.

This is a photo of the human powered ferry.  It crossed the canal in a section without a bridge for a long, long distance.
This is one of many cargo boats.  I suspect the owners or managers live on them.  The painting and ornamentation is unique on each.

The streets of Brugge are set in roughly two concentric circles, corralled  by the canals and consistently cobbled.  This tends to be a bit of a bone shaker on a steel bike (or probably any bike), but we saw many skinny tired racing bikes.  There are windmills set around the perimeter of the city.
As we approached the outer ring of the city, an older man on a bike asked us a one word question: kamping? He never spoke another word after we answered in the affirmative, but led us directly to the camping.  That would have taken us quite a while, if left to our own devices.
Each camping situation is different and all have their idiosyncrasies.  This one had free showers, but no toilet paper. We met two men with recumbent child seats on the fronts of their bikes. They told us they had traveled to France, but just far enough to see the welcome sign, take a photo, then turn around and come back.  Still a feat with two small kids, but pretty funny, none the less.
We entered Brugge after setting up, because it was already 4:30 and we knew things would shut down, but there was still live music and many shops were open. Chocolate and lace shops predominated the landscape.

Several huge squares hosted music, horse drawn carriages gave the acoustic echoes of long ago and  sculptures and fountains graced several squares. Canals, bridges and buildings built right into water dissected the streets and it became difficult to know north from south.
For dinner we ate pizza (one of the only reasonably priced options).  Customer service here is quite poor; you often wait a long time for someone to take your order and they rarely ask if you want anything further.  Sara attributes this to the discouragement of tipping, leaving the wait staff with little or no motivation to actually wait on you. I think for the most part, I would rather picnic.

We gleefully (at least Linda and I were gleeful, and maybe beerfull) wandered aimlessly as dark fell and we had to use lights for the first time.
Laundry was a desperate plight for Bill and Linda and I were amenable to doing ours as well, but it was almost midnight before it was done and we could go to bed.

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