Due to the fact that Saint Sixtus Abbey Westvleteren was closed we cut out going to Poperinge so we decided to make a few unplanned stops on the way to Bruges. We first stopped in Antwerp. This city is so charming and quaint. We we to Grote Markt and went into Abbey No. 8 and here we met Fredrick who gave us a Belgian Beer lesson and picked out the beers for my Belgian Beer Tasting Party. We spent about two hours here and then hit the road and headed to Gent. But before we were smooth sailing on E34 we had to get our car out of the parking lot. In most parking lots I have been to when you leave you pull up to the gate put your ticket in the machine and it then tells you the fee and then you put your credit card in and pay right there as you are leaving. Well in Belgium this is not the case. There is a separate stand where you put your ticket in and pay and then you get a ticket that is an “exit” ticket to leave and make the gate go up. So we created quite the hold up when we went to exit. We quickly became blocked in and had no idea how to pay or get out of the way. After a few panicked moments we saw the other machine about 15 feet away and Sarena hopped out and went and paid. Another factor was that our cards would not work; even our chip ones. Since Sarena lives in London she has a European bank card and that worked. Just a little heads up before you go parking in Belgium so you don’t make as many enemies as we did.
We got to Gent just as it became dark and walked around. The city was beautiful lit up at night but it became rainy so after walking around for a good hour and going to a restaurant that was closed we ended up at an Italian place; which actually turned out to be very good even though it wasn’t Belgian cuisine.
Our final spot was Bruges and we got in at around 10:30 pm. We checked into our hotel and went into the main square to see it at night and get frites. I got mine with gravy and mayonnaise—healthy I know.
The next day we explored Bruges by foot and then on a river cruise. This city was picturesque. It was exactly what you would expect a small Belgian city to look like. It is a city that makes you feel right at home.