September 12, 2007 - Bruges

We only had one full day in Bruges and we made the most of it! Our day began with breakfast on the square and was nothing short of spectacular - if you've never had a true Belgian waffle you don't know what you've been missing. The waiter explained to me that they put baking powder in the batter and allow it to rise for 6 hours before making the waffles which results in a waffle that's lighter than air. I prefer mine with just butter and powdered sugar, but most of the group opted for this decadent strawberry and whipped cream delight.
The weather was perfect - a gorgeous blue sky dotted with occasional clouds and a moderate temperature - and we started our journey by walking through the impressively large local market that was set up in the square. As in most European markets, everything was offered here - flowers and plants, pastries and baked goods, meats and charcuterie, fish, all sorts of vegetables, candy, and more. The stands were laid out beautifully and the market was bustling.

After the market we proceeded on a short self-guided walking tour of Bruges that wound around this Medieval town, stopping on the way for a canal ride. Bruges contains an intricate network of canals on a small romantic scale, and at the end of the town is the Lake of Love, inviting you to stroll through the serene landscape.
We stopped along the way for lunch in a small canal-side cafe and dined al fresco - which may have been a mistake given the line of horse drawn carriages that lined up here for water and feeding. I ordered moules frites (mussels and fries), a classic dish of this region, and I was disappointed.

After our touring we hung around the Markt (town square) enjoying cocktails and snacks while sharing some of our personal "stranger than fiction" true life stories with each other. We then dined at an Italian place that served a huge salad filled with mixed vegetables that we were convinced had been purchased that morning at the market. I followed the salad with a filet of dorado cooked en papillote with vegetables and served with more of the salad fixings on the side, accompanied by a side dish of spaghetti carbonara - not as good as Rome, but tasty nonetheless!

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