The brightly colored buildings lining the square would be eye-catching enough, even if it weren’t for the gargantuan 13th-century clock tower (the Belfort) dominating one entire side.
And then, of course, there’s Sissy Boy.
The climb to the top of the Belfort takes 366 stair steps up an ever-narrowing spiral staircase, passing a huge triumphal bell (reserved for very special occasions) and a manually-operated 47-bell carillon that can be heard throughout the land and sounded while we were right there next to it. The amazing thing is, Noe didn’t even stir, which only proves that babies are completely nuts.
Apparently, the max number of visitors they allow at any time is 70. I’m glad they’ve capped it, but I still can’t imagine having to shimmy our way up and down past that many other people in this narrow space, whilst carrying a baby. Luckily, as this is a Monday at the beginning of the low season, we only encountered a half dozen other people along the way.
Markt from the Treasury level of the Belfort. While not a market day, the square was still bustling with tourists and locals passing through or enjoying one of the many outdoor cafes around the perimeter.
And now, the real fun begins.
Down this alley used to be one of the best kept locals’ secrets in Bruges. A good buddy of mine spent a summer scouring much of Western Europe in search of the perfect biergarten and brew. de Garre was one of his favorites.
Just a couple years ago, you wouldn’t have found any mention of the place. Now, it seems to be cropping up in guidebooks, such as the pocket guide we used for our visit. Nonetheless, on this particular day there was still plenty of seating over two levels of an old and atmospheric tavern.
We ordered up two of the house beer. Packing a whopping 11%, patrons are limited to three a visit. One each was more than sufficient for our needs. Oh, and the delicious Belgian cheese comes complimentary.
In Belgium, each beer has its own unique glass, embossed with the beer’s logo that marks where the head starts. The glasses are specially shaped to enhance the taste and aroma of the beer. Beer is to Belgians as wine is to the French, and taken just as seriously.
This flyer posted on the bar caught Lori’s eye — not for the artwork being sold, but where they were handprinted. Seems like a strange coincidence, but if you know anything about Portland it’s really not.
Content in his Ergo carrier for much of the day, Noe was keen to make an appearance from time to time to savor the sights, in addition to the sounds and smells. At one point, Noe shared with us, “I simply love the shabby-chic, Old World charm of this magnificent and timeless hamlet. I do, I do.”
How big is a Belgian waffle?
Bigger than a baby’s head, of course! You can get them adult-head-sized too, but that would just be crazy…right? Oh, and the waffle wasn’t as good as it looks. It was way, way better.
We decided that Noe needed to have some active time outside of the baby carrier, so we did what any parent would do. Found a park bench, laid out his changing mat on the ground and let him go at while we enjoyed an incredible Belgium waffle. Don’t worry Noe, you’ll get some in a couple of hours…in liquid form.
On our way back from Brussels-Midi station to our hotel, this lively alleyway caught our eye. After a full day of sampling the best of Belgian fare, Lebanese food appealed to us.
As if on cue, as soon as our plate of yumminess came out, Noe decided to make his presence known in a big way. Lori took a few laps up and down the alley, but it was clear it was time to get the kiddo to bed.
Our waiter boxed it up and we headed back to the Beau Site, where Noe, thankfully, had a much better night.