We were up early in the morning even though our tour for the day was not until after lunch.
Today we are off to take a walking tour the city Bruges (Zeebrugge), Belgium and visit a chocolate museum where will be treated to a demonstration by a Belgian chocolatier.
But, first things first; tomorrow we arrive at Harwich, England signaling the end of the first leg of our cruise. Our tour does not start until after noon so back to the cabin to pack up so our things can be moved to a cabin three doors down for the next leg of our trip. The next leg will take us to ports of call in the Baltic Sea.
It was a bit of a ride to the medieval city of Bruges (French), Brugges (Flemish) and we were amazed at the number of windmills we passed along the road. While driving along our guide regaled us with the history of the city and talked about the sites we would be seeing during our walking tour. We learned that Burge is designated as a UNESCO world heritage site.
We passed one of the four remaining Bruges medieval city gates.
Our guide was a retired history teacher for many years and was just full of large and small tidbits about the city making his talk very interesting.
Our first stop was the Chocolate Museum to hear the ‘Chocolate Story’. After a short walk through the museum we filed into a small room filled with chairs and a stainless steel demonstration table. It was really interesting to see that there was an overhead mirror above the demonstration table.
The chocolatier started his talk explaining the difference between dark, milk and white chocolate and how Belgian chocolates are made only from the best cocoa. He explained how raw chocolate bars ware made into fine Belgian chocolates using only the freshest and best ingredients.
The chocolatier was so interesting explaining the history of chocolate, where the finest cocoa comes from, the differences in taste depending on the region it comes from. He passed around samples of the raw chocolate, one from Vietnam, one from South America and one from Mexico inviting us to experience the difference. The group decided that the Vietnamese chocolate was the bitterest of the choices.
Then he proceeded to demonstrate his skills at making little morsels of delicious pralines. With the overhead mirrors you could see exactly how the chocolatier created these wonderful morsels of Belgian chocolates.
After the demonstration and as we exited the room he invited us to have a sample. It was delicious. Some in the group walked around the museum while others went straight to the shop to purchase chocolates. We decided to walk through the museum.
Then we started our walk in earnest. We walked at a steady pace for about three hours passing beautiful buildings, squares and canals. We learned that the city center is surrounded by an oval-shaped canal and is sometimes called the ‘Venice of the North’. We passed over several canals and watched as happy tourist cruised along exploring the city by water.
The architecture of the buildings was very unique and interesting. Randy and I both loved the stair-step look to the tops of the 17th century buildings. As we walked around horse drawn carriages could be heard clip-clopping along the cobble stone streets.
We were able to spend a little time at Walplein, a small cobbled square filled with cafes, restaurants and souvenir shops. We stopped at a little sidewalk cafe and enjoyed a cafe latte and hot chocolate with Grand Marnier. Both were yummy!
At the designated time, we gathered together to walk along the “Lake of Love” on our way back to meet our coach and return to the ship. By the time we made it back to the ship we had just enough time to clean up for an evening of cocktails and dinner.
Dinner was so good this evening. Beef Wellington was on the menu and it was delicious. I followed the main course with a delicious dessert of chocolate mousse with Irish whiskey.
Today was a wonderful day of exploration. We decided to return to the cabin and spend a little time on the balcony saying goodbye to this beautiful city and watch the sun set. When we entered the cabin we discovered two certificates on the bed for completing the transatlantic crossing on the Brilliance of the Seas. Now, how fun is that?
Tomorrow will be a busy as this leg of the cruise comes to an end and the second leg begins.