Beasties in Bruges

Hey there everybody! How are you all keeping? I’ve been knitting and sewing like a fiend these past few days, so it’s kinda nice to take a break and have a chat with you all. Aaaand it wasn’t so bad to scroll through a few more holiday pics in preparation for this post, either! Let’s join Explorer Beastie en route to our next destination… Bruges!
Taking the train with Explorer Beastie - CrawCrafts BeastiesI had visited Bruges before, many years ago… But I’d forgotten how impossibly pretty it is. Here, take a look!
Streets of Bruges - CrawCrafts BeastiesSo, where are we off to first?

How about getting a bird’s eye view of the city?
Belfort, Bruges - CrawCrafts Beasties“Are we really climbing THAT?”

Why yes, Explorer Beastie! Yes we are. This is the Belfort (Belfry) of Bruges, and for a small fee, humans can climb the 366 steps to the top of that 83m (272 ft) tower and look out over the beautifully-preserved mediaeval town. Beasties can usually sneak in for free, if they stay hidden in a convenient handbag.

“I’m in! Let’s do this!”
Cimbing Belfort Tower, Bruges - CrawCrafts BeastiesExplorer Beastie was supposed to stay tucked away until we got to the top, but he couldn’t resist popping out for photo ops in the Treasury…
Belfort Treasury, Bruges - CrawCrafts Beasties… And the bell tower itself.
Bells at Belfort, Bruges - CrawCrafts BeastiesOn the left is the Triumph Bell, which is the biggest of the 47 bells (47!) housed in the tower. It’s a shrimpy little thing, weighing a mere 6,000kg! On the right, Explorer Beastie is taking a closer look at the playing drum, which allows some of the lesser bells to play recognisable tunes every quarter hour. Each of those pins is actually a nut and bolt, so their positions could be changed….

“Do you reckon I could get it to play ‘Dancing Queen’?”

Um… Maybe. But we’re still a way from the top… Back into my bag, or you’re tackling the really steep, narrow final steps on your own!

Seriously, it does get to be a very tight squeeze for the last stages of the climb. But that view?
View from the top of Belfort, Bruges - CrawCrafts BeastiesTotally worth it!

Better yet, I managed to get down those stairs again without tripping up once.

Back at ground level, it was time for Explorer Beastie to make the acquaintance of one of the locals. This did not go as well as on previous occasions.
Unfriendly locals - CrawCrafts Beasties“Gaaaah! Help!”

Fortunately, I was able to snatch him from the jaws of doom juuuust in time. And then we spotted this, which seemed like a good way to distract him from what had just happened.
Chocolate Museum, Bruges - CrawCrafts Beasties
Chocolate Museum? Yes please!

And while there was a good healthy dose of curiosities for us to enjoy from the outset…
Chocolate Curiosities - CrawCrafts BeastiesThere was one very obvious reason why we were here.
Chocolate Samples! CrawCrafts Beasties“All you can eat”? Really? Is that wise?

Of course, Explorer Beastie accepted the challenge, and set about trying to bankrupt the place. His appetite never ceases to amaze me.

He also took a quick spin in a conquistador’s ship. If I’d eaten that much chocolate, I probably wouldn’t have risked it… This little monster must have some serious sea legs.
All aboard! CrawCrafts BeastiesIn fact, he was still feeling chipper enough at the end to pose with these guys – does anyone else recognise the Barbapapas, rendered in delicious Belgian chocolate?
Chocolate Barbapapas, Bruges - CrawCrafts Beasties

And after all that chocolate, there was just time for a quick beer in this amazing cellar bar. It’s called Le Trappiste, for any of you who might be planning a post-quarantine visit.
Le Trappiste, Bruges - CrawCrafts Beasties
Then it was time to hop on the train home!
The Train Home - CrawCrafts BeastiesCheers for travelling with us!

Have any of you been to Bruges? What did you make of it? Be sure to tell us in the comments! And we’ll see you again next week… Until then, look after yourselves and keep washing those paws!

Brussels – A Monster-Friendly City

Hello there Beastie friends! Apologies if I’m a little later than usual – today I ventured out of the Beastie Towers isolation bubble to get groceries and that takes a whole lot longer than it used to! So I thought, how about we quit quarantine for a while, and go travelling?

Not Beastie Towers - CrawCrafts Beasties
This doesn’t look like Beastie Towers!

Anyone who saw this post a couple of months back will already know that Explorer Beastie and I were lucky enough to spend some time in Belgium before flights started being cancelled and borders were closed. Our trip started out in Brussels… And look who met us there!
With Garcia Beastie in Brussels - CrawCrafts BeastiesHey, Garcia Beastie! Great, let’s go and explore!

Out Around Brussels

We’ll start our grand monster tour in the Grand Place (or Grote Markt, “Grand Market”, in Dutch), the central square of Brussels. Look at these buildings!
Explorer Beastie in the Grand Place, Brussels - CrawCrafts Beasties

The square has been the heart of the city since the 15th century… Although much of what you’ll see here today is the result of a comprehensive reconstruction that took place in the late 1600s, after a pretty comprehensive destruction at the hands of the French army in 1695. In the past, many of the buildings were either private houses or owned by tradesmens’ guilds. We were able to spot the House of the Corporation of Tailors – it’s the building to the right of the fancy gold one in the photo below.

North East of the Grand Place, Brussels - CrawCrafts BeastiesYou can also see the King’s House (NB no king has ever actually lived here!)…
The King's House, Brussels - CrawCrafts Beasties…And, on the other side of the square, the Town Hall.
Town Hall, Brussels - CrawCrafts BeastiesThis served as a makeshift hospital during the First World War, and it was our first indicator that Brussels loves its monsters. Check out the statuary and gargoyles!
Gargoyles, Brussels Hotel de Ville - CrawCrafts BeastiesWait, did we lose Explorer Beastie? No, there he is – having a staring contest with one of the locals.Staring Contest - CrawCrafts Beasties Come on! We have to go and check out one of the city’s less tasteful landmarks.

This.
Tourist Tat - CrawCrafts BeastiesWe had a pretty hard time trying to decipher the appeal of the Mannekin Pis, but here we are…
Mannekin Pis, Brussels - CrawCrafts BeastiesOK, well… That’s done.

But look – cool stuff on the other side of the street!
Bikes don't go that way! CrawCrafts BeastiesA building with multicoloured bikes going up the front? Yes please! And some early signs of the approaching spring, too.
First Signs of Spring in Brussels - CrawCrafts BeastiesYou might not have to wear your woolly jacket much longer, Explorer Beastie!

City Walls

Turns out there’s a lot of other interesting stuff on the walls of Brussels.
Street Art, Brussels - CrawCrafts Beasties

And some of the walls are interesting in their own right. This is one of only a handful of surviving parts of the original city walls, still standing after 800-odd years!
Old City Walls, Brussels - CrawCrafts Beasties

More Local Monsters

Well, we did say this was a monster-friendly city! The boys just had to pose with this guy.
Brussels Monster - CrawCrafts BeastiesYes, they really are everywhere! Check out this winged lion on the side of the Palais de Justice.
Mythological monsters in Brussels - CrawCrafts Beasties

I was really curious about this building, because it’s so massive and over the top! And also because, when we were there, we couldn’t see it clearly through all the scaffolding around it.
Palais de Justice, Brussels - CrawCrafts BeastiesAs I later found out, the scaffolding is actually a bit of a running joke among the locals. Repairs to the building have been going on for the last three decades, and even the most optimistic estimates put the completion date as sometime in 2028! Maybe we’ll get to see it on our next trip, eh?

Rain Stops Play

You can perhaps tell from the raindrop-spattered picture above that the weather was starting to turn against us a little. You’d be right.

Rain Stops Play - CrawCrafts Beasties
Boooooooooo

And although we did find some more monsters to admire…
Local monsters - CrawCrafts Beasties… The shelter we’d hoped to find in the galleries of the Mont des Arts and the Musical Instruments Museum was denied to us! It was a Monday, and both were closed.
Brussels Museums - CrawCrafts BeastiesI’d definitely check out the Museum of Musical Instruments on a future visit though – the building is so cool! I’d like to use it as a blueprint for the next Beastie Towers refurb.

Still, all was not lost. There’s always the pub!
Cheers! CrawCrafts BeastiesI hope you’re planning to share that with me, Beasties!

Santé!