Monday, April 23, 2012

Bruges, Part 3: Boat Tour

Ok peeps, I'm starting to feel like I'm talking to myself on here.  Which I might be...maybe no one did bother to scroll down past my movie reviews last time?  Regardless, I have more Bruges pictures, which I need to slap up here ASAP because we spent the weekend in Cornwall and have a bunch of pictures from that, *and* we've got another trip planned for the first week of May and *then* Italy at the end of May.  So lots of pictures forthcoming.

The Saturday we spent in Bruges, we got up and had breakfast with some friends who were staying at the same hotel we were, and then the four of us met up with another couple in town.  We were on our way to the canals to do a boat tour of the city when I saw this and thought it was cool.

And there you can see the whole archway...

And the angel on the left.

We decided to do the boat tour first thing in the morning while it wasn't raining, just so we could have it done already in case most of the day got rained out.  That tall tower is a clock tower, and you can walk up inside it, which we sere going to do after the boat thing but the line was too long and we were more interested in lunch than climbing 365 stairs.

A couple of other tour boats.

We passed under several bridges and waved to the people on the bridges who were waving at us in the boats.

They've got some interesting statues and sculptures around the town; this one is only visible from the canals.  Well, maybe if there's a walkway on the opposite side of the canal, but we saw it from the boat.

The buildings look taller when you're taking pictures from a bitty little boat...

I'm rather proud of this swan picture; not too bad considering we were motoring along at a respectable pace and I managed to get this one.

And one more even.  I had three or four more but these were the best two.

Low bridge, everybody down.  Low bridge, 'cause we're coming to a town...oh wait, that's a song about the Erie Canal.

This statue is on the patio of a bar that one of Lee's friends liked; we stopped there after the boat ride (but those pics are for next time and I know what you're thinking, me at a bar?  Yeah).

Another weird statue.  There was one we passed on the walk into the town that was kind of creepy; it was a woman standing up but her head was really small in proportion to her body and she didn't have a face, it was carved out.  Reminded me of the giant killer robot in Thor, only a girl version.

I really like that red building, it's totally making a statement here.  Classy.

Lee got this photo on the little camera, I thought it was pretty cool with the couple right in front of the tower.  That's it for this time, more Bruges pictures to come (actually the last of the Bruges pictures) and then I've got some Cornwall pics to share.  Let me know you're out there, guys, I might start to think I'm going crazy if I talk to myself too much...

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Bruges, Part 2

I know you're here for the Bruges pictures, but I'm going to pretend for a moment that you care when I do movie reviews 'cause Lee and I did a double feature on Saturday and I want to talk about the movies : )

First up, we saw Mirror Mirror, the Snow White movie with Julia Roberts and Lily Collins.  The movie was okay but nothing spectacular; the best bits to my mind were the evil queen's wackadoodle costumes and the music (by Disney composer Alan Menken, who brought us such gems as The Little Mermaid and Beauty & the Beast).  The Bollywood-esque "I Believe" song at the end was okay too, though I could see it getting annoying if played ad nauseum (oooh, LATIN!).  I wanted to like this movie better, but I just couldn't.  Lily Collins just didn't quite seem to fit in the whole Snow White role, and her eyebrows were so distracting they practically deserve their own line in the credits.  I'm not holding out much hope for the rival Snow White project because I don't think Kristen Stewart can act her way out of a paper bag.  Chris Hemsworth is fun to look at though...oh wait, Lee reads this blog.  I didn't say anything about Chris Hemsworth, Lee.  But back to Mirror Mirror...I doubt we'll buy it on DVD, though if I happen to find the soundtrack at a used book store for like $2 somewhere down the line, I'd probably get it.  I have a well-established thing for movie scores.

Next up we saw The Hunger Games.  I talked Lee into reading the book the weekend we were in Bruges, so it's much fresher in his mind than in mine (I read the book too but it was like two years ago and I haven't re-read it yet).  The one thing I hated about the movie was all the shaky "documentary"-style camera work.  What the heck is wrong with a good steady-cam?!  Seriously, I felt a little nauseated for a while watching this movie, and that was before all the gory bits happened.  Other than that though, it was excellent.  I thought it was extremely well-cast; I can't think of anyone that I thought was not a good fit for their role.  Of course some things are different from the book, but Suzanne Collins co-wrote the screenplay and is credited as a co-producer, so it seemed like she was very involved.  I wish they hadn't changed how Katniss got the Mockingjay pin though, it kind of doesn't make sense.  She gives it to her little sister as a good-luck charm, who then gets picked as a tribute, and then her sister gives it back to her as a good-luck charm during the games.  Umm, hello, how much good luck could it be?!  But anyway, we did like the movie other than the nausea-inducing camera work.  Argh.

Ok, so let's get down to some more Bruges pictures (and I bet some of you just skipped all the blah-de-blah and looked for the pictures, but that's okay).

Just thought this was kind of cool looking down one of the cobblestone streets; I like the stair-step effect on that building.

There was a restaurant near this pegasus statue that looked pretty good but somehow we didn't get back over in this area at all; I kinda wanted more pics of the statue but what can you do.

And here's the canals; this is near where the horse carriages leave from and I don't know why I don't have more horse pictures.

We thought this gate looked kind of cool so we went through it and found...

...a big field of daffodils.  This is a beguinage, which according to Wikipedia (the source of all knowledge) housed a religious order of women that was less strict than a lot of the convents and abbeys of the time.

Back out the gate and into the area a few pictures back, and I found another stair-step roof.  I took like six pictures of this just because I thought it was cool.  And I think this one leans to the left, dangit.

Lee took this one.  We both love the looks of weeping willows, but I've heard that they've got invasive root systems so you don't want them planted too near your house or you'll get your plumbing all messed up.  I didn't read that on Wikipedia though so who knows if it's true.

Hey, who's that person?  : )

This was off the little camera; Lee and I thought these trees look kind of like menorahs, which amused us.

Hey look, a Slytherin park bench.  You gotta watch out, those Slytherins are everywhere.

Sorry this is a truly sucky picture through a shop window, but you can just kinda see that it's the Moai statues from Easter Island.  Which is punny since we were there for Easter weekend.  Another store had giant chocolate chickens from the movie Chicken Run, and we saw several Easter bunnies that were at least two feet tall.

My mom collects hippos, and I found this awesome teapot but didn't get it because it was like $100 (only in Euro, but still, expensive).  This shop had all kinds of teapots and teacups and mugs and stuff, which were really cool to look at but it made us nervous that we were going to break something trying to navigate the narrow aisles so we left pretty quickly.

We did walk around the town a little bit the first night we were there and Lee took these photos; the one above is on our big camera and the one below is from our little point-and-shoot.

Can't remember what building this is but the photos look kinda cool, right?  Still have more Bruges pics to share in a few days.  A bientot!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Bruges, Part 1

Hi Mom!  Here I am with some pictures from Bruges, Belgium.  I kind of had a hard time narrowing down the number of pictures so this could take a couple more posts before I get through them all.  Lee and I arrived in town around 1 o'clock last Friday (not yesterday Friday, a week ago Friday) and checked into our hotel.  We got a ground-level room with a cute little patio and view of the courtyard:

I have no idea what kind of tree that is but I loved the flowers on it.

You know I'm a total sucker for the close-up floral shots...and bonus, it's harder to tell with those if they're crooked!

There's a view looking back towards the building we stayed in; our room is pretty much right behind the tree trunk.  They had this funny little machine like a cross between a Roomba and a lawnmower that was running over the grass but somehow it seems that all our pictures of the Lawnba are no more.  But it was funny.

 This was on the side of the building we stayed in, I just thought it was kinda cool-looking.

And there's my sweetie pie : )

This is the main building of the hotel, the Hotel Pannenhuis.  We liked it quite a bit and would recommend to others; you have to walk a ways to get to the city center, but they had lots of free parking at the hotel and we really liked our room.  Excellent water pressure in the shower, which is not always the case in Europe.

Once we finished taking pictures of that beautiful tree, we headed on into town to get some food and explore; this is kind of the gateway leading to the town.  We walked for maybe 1/2 to 3/4 of a mile and found a little bistro where we had a late lunch.  The menu was all in Dutch, but luckily a few words are close enough not to require translation (tomato, mozzarella, panini {guess what I had for lunch}, chocolate, waffle {guess what we had for dessert!}).  The waitress also spoke very good English so she made sure we knew what we were ordering.  It seems like so many people speak multiple languages--we stood in line for 10 minutes at a small waffle shop on Saturday and in that time heard the lady working the counter speak English, French, Dutch, and Italian.  Dude, I speak English and some very rusty French, and that's pretty much it (unless you count a very few assorted words, phrases and numbers in Japanese, Spanish, and German).  It's just amazing to me.

In the first large square we came to, we found this big fountain with statues all around it.  I rather like taking pictures of statues; they seem to be more common in Europe than America.  And some of them are really goofy and delightful.

There's my honey again : )  We had gorgeous weather all Friday afternoon, it was awesome for taking pictures.  Check out that blue sky.

So here's the goofy part of the statue; I have no idea why these women are sitting around talking whilst birds perch on their heads.

That is one seriously dislocated shoulder.  Looks painful.

And here you can see all the bird women and shoulder lady as a group; this was just one side of the statue.  I took pictures of at least one of the other sides, but they didn't turn out as good--makes a difference which direction the sun is shining from.  But the bird lady side was the most interesting anyway.

Here is St. Salvatore's Cathedral; it and several other churches were open to visitors, but we elected to just walk around town and enjoy the architecture from the outside so we could take advantage of the beautiful weather.

It always amazes me just how OLD some things are in Europe.

 And right next door to it was a place that was older still.

I think this was the back side of St. Salvatore's.

Several of the old, interesting-looking buildings are surrounded by other buildings that are fairly tall, so sometimes it's hard to get a picture of the truly interesting ones.  But we tried.

Horse-drawn carriages passed us regularly as we walked around the town; I loved seeing them but at the same time I felt a little sorry for the horses.  They're working mighty hard for their oats trotting around town all day and hauling tourists with them.

Bruges is sometimes called the "Venice of the north" because it, too, has canals.  Not as extensive as Venice, but still.  The water looked kinda dirty but there's just something cool about having canals in the city anyway.  Lots more pictures of those coming up soon.

Before we went to Bruges, I joked about how we were going to eat nothing but waffles and chocolate the whole weekend, and lo and behold!  Waffles and chocolate were EVERYWHERE.  Not the place to go if you're trying to watch your figure : )  We had waffles twice and we did buy some chocolate too, from this Chocoholic shop even.

I thought this sign was pretty funny inside Chocoholic.  It says, "Do you love chocolate?  Does the image of chocolate send you running for your secret stash?  Does the thought of chocolate make you melt and go crazy?  Do you truly believe that a day without chocolate is a day wasted?  If you answered yes to any of these questions, have no fear:  you are a chocoholic!"

Guilty as charged : )