The company that rented us the mobile wifi hotspot that was supposed to liberate us, royally screwed us. After figuring out they had sent Jeff a UK SIM, we bought a prepaid data SIM only to discover the unit itself was defective. We thought oh well we’ll put it in Jeff’s iPhone, but of course it didn’t fit because we didn’t think different ™ enough. We wasted many hours (and euros) dealing with this and are going to ask the company (TEP Wireless) for a full refund, plus extra. They haven’t returned our requests for support or even answered their phone so they are a huge “avoid”!
That aside, we walked through Bruges (and our second day of light rain) to the train station and caught a train to Gent for the day. We underestimated the distance to the Gent Centrum and ended up doing too much walking. Poor Glenn’s metal hip was hurting like crazy but he was a trooper. Eventually we stumbled across the central part of town which is chock full of beautiful, *massive* churches. In the past you could simply walk into any European church you came across, but now many of them seem to be under renovation and are either closed to the public or charge some kind of “admission” (or “tourist”) fees. Since we had spent far too long walking we headed first for Het Waterhuis a/d Bierkant (hi Matt!) for some beer.
Het Waterhuis a/d Bierkant is situated right on the canal and set back a bit from the street. We hunkered down in the nearly empty upper room, looking out over the canal and enjoyed several fine beers we had never heard of from their ample menu.
Since I had no wifi yesterday (damn you TEP!!!!!!) I will summarize our first day in Belgium. We met up with Jeff at the Zavantam (ZAVANTAM!!!) in Brussels, and after a thorough reaming by the car rental place and several (dubious) misunderstandings about the number of drivers (we eventually sprung for all three of us, just in case), we headed out. Thanks to Ambien and a glass of wine I actually managed to sleep more than 5 minutes on a long haul flight (I think I managed at least 4 hours) so I offered to drive our first leg to Bruges.
Our brand new Volvo came with a fancy GPS so we routed directly to Brugge center. This was Glenn’s first trip to an ancient European city and we enjoyed his reaction as we wove through the narrow cobble streets. We found a random spot a few blocks off the square and headed off in a random direction looking for something to eat and drink and came across De Halve Maan brewery, makers of Zot. Glenn and I had the Flemish Stew (hi Erin!). They had free wifi so we found a really nice (it turned out) hotel north of the square using Kayak. We checked in, then headed into Bruges Centrum looking for beer.
Unfortunately, it was a bank holiday and nothing was open.
Just kidding! We hit De Garre, the Bertje, had pricey moules frites right on the square, then spent the rest of the evening in the The Basement (de Poote’s). Glenn fell in love with this place despite the slippery stone stair under the old church. It’s a popular place amongst beer-seeking tourists and young, well-built local coeds (hi Jill!).
We crashed about 11:30 and all got a solid 8 hours. Off to Ip/Ypres, St. Sixtus, and St. Bernardus tomorrow!