We woke up early Saturday morning and took the tram to the rental car place. It wasn't too far, but it was tricky with Andy's car seat and our luggage (though we only brought one piece). This was the first time we tried out our new fancy backpack, the Osprey Poco Plus, which we forked out a ton of money for and hoped it would be worth it. We didn't even bring a stroller. Anyway, we made it to the rental car place and drove off about an hour later. (Apparently efficiency isn't a priority in european car rental facilities.) Cam was worried about driving here, but settled in quickly and then became a pro. The drive to Brugge was beautiful. Lots of flat, green land with lots of cows, corn fields, and windmills (both old and new ones). The drive was supposed to be about 3 hours, but with construction it ended up being more like 4.
Brugge is stunning. We both think it feels similar to Amsterdam, but older. And it feels much smaller. We finally got into the city about 3 or so. We spent the day wandering around the city exploring. Of course we bought some chocolate and tried some waffels, all delicious. We took a boat cruise, which was beautiful. Sadly, Andy wasn't exactly cooperative so neither of us enjoyed it too much.
Sunday morning we knocked out some of the tourist checkpoints after a great breakfast. (Why can't croissants taste this good in the US?) We went to the top of the Belfry tower. So basically Cam carried Andy up 333 stairs on his back. He's such a trooper; I was tired after and I didn't carry anything but myself. For some reason, Andy loved it! He couldn't stop laughing as we climbed the stairs. The view was incredible. Afterward, we headed to the Picasso exhibit. Does it make me sound uncultured if I say I didn't enjoy it that much? It just didn't have any standout pieces that I loved. After that, we headed to the Church of Our Lady to see the Madonna and Child by Michelangelo. Beautiful! We got more chocolate and waffles, and then headed out for the drive home about 1. We thought about walking around longer, but decided with a kid, it's best to quit while you're ahead. Sometimes less is more! We drove home and ended up back at our place about 6.
Andy's favorite parts?
Like I said, he loved going up those stairs in the Belfry Tower! He also loved the waffles and chocolates. We took a little time every day where he could just run around in a park; he loved that!
What did we learn?
Like I said, this trip was a bit of an experiment. Driving was really cool in some ways, but I think we'll prefer the train or flying in the future. The car ended up being super expensive once they added all the fees, fuel, insurance, GPS, etc. And we hit mega construction/traffic both ways.
As far as stroller vs. backpack. This one is tough. That thing is heavy. I don't know why I thought if we spent enough money on a backpack it would feel like you weren't carrying anything at all? Ha. Not exactly true when your child is a solid 25+ pounds. Of course, I can't complain at all. I carried him for 30 minutes and Cam carried him for 10 hours. :) We'd assumed a stroller would be tough because of cobblestone, tourist sites (like the tower and boat ride), etc. But really, I think a stroller would have been fine 95% of the time. We're not sure what we'll do in the future? It seems like a stroller wouldn't really work in places like Paris (eiffel tower, notre dame, etc.). We would just bring both, but it's hard to carry both around. I guess we'll see!
As far as Andy goes--there's no doubt about it, travelling with a baby in europe is tricky. I need to get in my head that travelling here this time around is just going to be different. And that's okay. One thing--we definitely have to plan his food in advance a little better. Bring lots of stuff with us that's easy for him to eat. Going out to eat is tricky. We mostly have to get street food, which is a bummer because little restaurants in europe are my favorite. I think I've had enough paninis to last me a lifetime. :) Overall though, he did very well. He was definitely extra tired on Sunday, but he was a good sport most of the time. And we're thrilled that Andy loves his Kidco Peapod so much. This way we don't always have to stay in hotels that have cribs.
Overall, it was a great experience! Sure, there are inconveniences with travelling with a baby, but how lucky are we to be able to drive 3 hours and be in Belgium? We can't wait for our next weekend travel adventure!
|On the way to the car rental place in Amsterdam.|
|Entering into the Brugge city center.|
|Cam with his lunch. Andy looking adorable.|
|Cam and Andy in Market Square. Good view of the Belfry Tower.|
|Other side of Market Square.|
|Back of Church of Our Lady.|
|Tower on Church of Our Lady.|
|View from our hotel. Seriously gorgeous.|
|I told you Andy loved the climb up the tower!|
|View from the Belfry Tower.|
|During one of Andy's exploring times.|
|Madonna and Child by Michelangelo in Church of Our Lady.|
|Inside Church of Our Lady.|
|One of our amazing wafels!|
|Our car! Our orange fire bolt.|