A Drive in the Netherlands and More Bruges

posted November 30, 2007 by Holly Hayes part of trip: The Great European Road Trip

Yesterday we took a drive north from Bruges into the Netherlands. It's not far away at all, and thanks to the European Union we hardly noticed when we crossed the border. There's just a small sign on the side of the road to mark the spot. We were in the region of Zeeland, which is the westernmost part of the country and runs along the coast north of Belgium.

We didn't have any major goals on the drive, just a couple towns that David wrote down because they were on the coast. It was very interesting to see some Dutch countryside - we didn't see much of it when we visited Amsterdam and Leiden. We generally liked what we saw - flat landscape, canals everywhere, and wide empty roads. Not as many windmills as you might expect, but each village seemed to have a big old windmill to go with its church tower.

We pulled over at a couple random churches, including the above, but it was raining so hard that we didn't linger long.

Our main stop was at Terneuzen, which is clearly not a tourist town but seemed representative of the region. We wandered up and down the streets for a bit and found excellent lunch in the form of a hot ham-and-cheese croissant (with sharp Gouda giving it more zip than usual) for me, a Mexican roll (French bread with taco meat and cheese) for David, and a side of delicious St. Nicholas Mix - peanuts, cashews and dried fruit.

Then we drove back to Belgium and parked on the east side of Bruges to do some evening sightseeing and find dinner. The main sight we got to before closing was the Jeruzalemkerk, which turned out to be very cool. David was especially enthusiastic about it, thanks to its uniqueness.

It was built in the 15th century by a local rich family after one of them returned from a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. It is patterned after the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, with a large round tower. It even includes a replica of the tomb of Christ, with a statue of Christ still in it.




Main room, from the entrance


Room behind the altar on the same level, with entrance to the "tomb"


The "tomb of Christ," which you have to really stoop over to enter. Although moderately kitsch with the statue of Christ, it was really quite atmospheric.

From there we walked into the center of town, which was looking very pretty in the evening light.

Evening Canal Reflections, Bruges, Belgium
evening canal scene
evening canal scene

We had a nice hot dinner from the Christmas market in Markt Square, which felt much more lively and festive than it had during the day.

Belfort by Night

The Belfort (belfry) by night, overlooking Markt square

potato dish at christmas market

I chose a dish made of potatoes, bacon, brie cheese, butter, white wine, mustard, and spices. It was good but a little strong-tasting for me - not sure if that was the cheese or the wine. It was sure impressive to look at, though - they always had one huge pan of the freshly-sliced ingredients (left) and one pan of the blended result.


For dessert, we finally had our first hot Belgian waffle. Interestingly there were two kinds (click to enlarge for a better look): one that was sweet like I described previously and one called a Brussels Waffle that was not as sweet and a bit more like the American version. I had the former with whipped cream, David had the latter with powdered sugar. Both delish.

Today we didn't feel like doing anything too ambitious and the weather continued to be bad, so we just made a short excursion into town. We parked in our usual Biekorf parking garage, which is quite easy to use and not too expensive.

I loved these instructions for the parking garage - so cute, multilingual by nature, and even includes a visit to the Belfort.

The first order of business was lunch, which we had at a bakery-cafe recommended by our guidebook called Het Dagelijks Brood ("The Daily Bread"). Despite being very close to the Markt, it wasn't the least bit touristy. There weren't any English menus (which we'd had everywhere else) and our waitress' English was a bit more hesistant than some.

het dagelijks brood

Everyone around us at the large communal table spoke Dutch, except for one couple who spoke French - but then they met up with another couple and spoke Dutch with them. The mastery of languages in this part of the world is truly astonishing. We are so very jealous and vow to do our best to at least become competent in German (and I want to be fluent in French too - despite three years of high school French I have far to go).

The menu came in Dutch and French and we did our best with the French. I could translate most of it except for a key word - tartine - which was the main sort of thing they served. Since there had been quiches in the window and we saw those nowhere else on the menu, I thought tartine might be another word for quiche (it does sound like tart, after all). Wrongo, but we ordered based on that - me a ham and cheese version and David the tuna and hummus version.

tartines at het dagelijks brood

It turned out tartine is far from being a quiche, but in fact we liked it much better. It was meat, cheese and veg laid out delicious slices of nutty bread. Relatively healthy, very filling, and very delicious.

After lunch we headed for the nearby Basilica of the Holy Blood to take those pictures of the lower basilica I'd missed last time. The lower part is Romanesque, my favorite.

romanesque lower basilica
romanesque lower basilica

Carving of the Baptism of Christ

Next we visited the Groenige Museum, which was smallish but very well laid-out. It had a nice collection of Flemish art, mostly paintings that were once in churches. There were several paintings by Jan van Eyck and one by Hieronymus Bosch, one of our favorites because he paints some real strange stuff!

In the vicinity of the museum were some of the prettiest canal scenes we'd come upon in Bruges.

canal near onze lieve vrowekerk

This is the oldest bridge in Brugge, from the 13th century. The tower is part of the Onze Lieve Vrowekerk, which we visited our first day in Brugge.

canal near onze lieve vrowekerk
dumon chocolatier

This cute chocolate shop is the one recommended by most guidebooks, including my own. We gazed in the windows at on the way back to our car but we've been having lots of treats lately and the tiny shop was rather full, so we resisted buying anything.

This evening we relaxed in our hotel, ordered room service for dinner (it's surprisingly inexpensive for simple dishes like pizza or a grilled sandwich) and watched the movie Fracture on the laptop. Good stuff! And then I finally stopped procrastinating and wrote this blog post.

Tomorrow: Germany!

We are so excited to be living in Germany starting tomorrow! We will probably leave here around 11 or so, then make the three-hour drive to our new home near Bonn.

Sadly we will probably not have internet access tomorrow night, and perhaps a day or two beyond, as I think we need to set it up ourselves. David will certainly be on it immediately, but it might be a bit complicated, especially with it all being in German! But we'll do our best to get connected and I'll post an update as soon as I can.

Auf wiedersehen until then!

next: Our New Home in Germany

previous: Day Trip to Ghent from Bruges

Article Info

Page Title
A Drive in the Netherlands and More Bruges
Added By
Holly Hayes
Date Published
November 30, 2007
Last Updated
April 15, 2024