Probably the World’s Oldest Pub

After walking all around Bruges yesterday, a very large blister reappeared (it first appeared in Budapest) on a toe on my right foot. I was dreading another day of walking, but somehow my basic first aid managed to render the pain bearable. As today wore on, I became less conscious of the blister, and by tonight I’m walking without noticing it again.

So without a blister to hinder me, today we walked and walked and walked around Bruges, just as we did yesterday. We visited a few old haunts from the previous day, but also found quite a few new parts of the town to explore. We began by visiting a couple of the windmills on the banks of the river that flows past the town. One was slowly turning, although I think this was entirely because paying tourists had climbed up to see it.

The weather was chopping and changing. The forecast had been for a cool 12 degrees, but the day began with blue skies and warm sunshine. It didn’t last. When the rain came, the skies turned grey, the temperature dropped by about ten degrees almost instantly and the chilly wind rattled our bones. Just when people started looking for cover, the rain eased off, the sun came out again and suddenly it was warm again. If it’s true that Melbourne sometimes has four seasons in one day, then Bruges is not far behind it.

It was a day for getting things done. We passed a barber shop. I stopped and went back. It’s been three and a half weeks since my last haircut, so the timing was right. It turned out to be a fantastic barber/tattoo shop, staffed by a trio of great guys. We had a great conversation while I was in the chair and I was pleased to get that one out of the way. Later in the day we took a big pile of dirty laundry around to a laundromat, pooled our coins and sat around for ages watching the clothes spinning around and around, first in the washing machines and then in the dryers. That was another good job to get out of the way.

In between downpours we managed to visit a Saturday market, where the food looked mighty tempting; stop at a cafe for pancakes and hot chocolate; and call in for a couple of tasty Belgian beers at a 504-year old pub named Vlissinghe. The pub was so charming and the beer was so good that we hung around much longer than we intended and eventually turned a quick drink at the pub into an evening meal. We got chatting to a really likeable young Dutch couple who had driven 300km just to spend a weekend in this beautiful town. The publicans at Vlissinghe proclaim that it is ‘probably the world’s oldest pub’.

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