Amsterdam – Bruges – London
June 14, 2019
Today started with another amazing waffle from our hotel breakfast. They had a waffle machine and batter–man did it make a great waffle! Seemed to give the Belgian waffle I hadn’t even had yet some competition! A long travel day awaited us as we set out on the road, saying goodbye to Amsterdam. We didn’t make any stops along the way until we arrived at our lunch stop in Bruges, Belgium. We pulled up in a coach park area and started walking to the Markt (“Market Square”), admiring the unique architecture of Belgian houses along the way. They looked like a medieval-styled Dutch house. There were several tour boats driving along the canals, as well as some private horse coaches making their way down the street. We passed by countless chocolate shops and waffle places as we entered–they make sure that the two things Belgium is known for–chocolate and waffles–are not hard to find!
Heading into the Markt square
We reached the square and realized how charming the city was. A large church bell tower was playing Bach’s Prelude in C Major and there was a neat energy in the square. We ventured out on one of the side streets and found a great cafe where we were sure to be able to get our Belgian waffle fix. It was a place called Balthasar that had lots of unique knick knacks for sale, but it was also a cafe. I got a waffle with Belgian milk chocolate sauce–yum! Emily got a waffle with with strawberry jam. Delicious!
We headed back through the square and went to our next stop, a Belgian chocolate shop! The one we went to was recommended by our tour guide Emma, called La Belgique Gourmande. She mentioned to make sure to go to a shop that has the cocoa bean symbol displayed outside, which indicates that the chocolate is handmade. And it was some good chocolate! Not quite as creamy as Swiss chocolate, and also a bit richer, but unique in its own. As we browsed around the shop, we noticed there was a TV camera crew interviewing the cashier and also taking some B-roll footage of customers browsing around the shop…we could have been on Belgian TV! Haha!
We boarded the coach and made our final trek back to London. We drove to the Port of Dunkirk (not Calais like we came) to take the 3:00 ferry across the English Channel. We had to go through both French and UK passport control before we boarded. It was easier this time, as they didn’t randomly select any bags to search. After waiting a bit to board the ferry, our coach parked aboard and we could roam around the ship. It was a lot nicer than the previous one, and also quite a bit smaller. Jean mentioned that Dunkirk is only operated by 1 ferry company, while Calais is operated by 3 separate ones. We stood outside on the back deck to see the ship depart, but then the cold breeze quickly ushered us indoors into the warmth.
After about 2 hours, we arrived at the Port of Dover, admiring the beautiful White Cliffs of Dover as they passed by on our entry. At this point, some sad news had come to Emma regarding a family member that had not been doing well in the hospital the past week. She mentioned that it had been a hard week already, but some even worse news came that warranted her to take a taxi to the airport at Dover and fly home to Australia. I felt so sorry and just so helpless wanting to do something for her. Hoping and praying for her and her family during this difficult time. But she mentioned that she left us in the very capable hands of our driver Jean.
Unfortunately, there were several accidents on the motorways, so we didn’t make it back to hotel Novotel in Greenwich until 7:30. As soon as the hotel was in sight, the bus erupted in cheers and applause. Everyone was so excited to be back where it all started! Emily and I definitely were no different. I think I was 100% ready to go home after the Rhine cruise, but we still had Amsterdam left. We got off the bus and said bye to most everyone. It was tough to say bye to these people even though they were complete strangers 18 days earlier! We checked into the hotel for the night and made a reservation for a taxi to take us to Heathrow in the morning. We really wanted to avoid having to take the tube and dealing with lots of people and lots of transfers, but we weren’t sure when to have the taxi pick us up. We asked advice of the hotel staff, but they didn’t really have any suggestions besides saying that the journey from the hotel to the airport was an hour and a half long. We initially said 7:15 AM, but then realized people online said you should get there 3 hours before for international flights. Disappointed that we probably wouldn’t be able to have the hotel’s breakfast, we changed the reservation to 5:45 AM.
We didn’t want to go anywhere for dinner, so we just ate at the hotel. And it was great!! I got an Indian dish, Chicken Tikka Masala, and Emily satisfied her Mexican craving with some Fish Tacos. After having so much European food, I had really been craving Indian, Mexican, Chinese, Thai, and Japanese food! Surprisingly, not American food. Dinner really hit the spot. It was a little too hot though, and because I was so hungry and just dove into it, I gave the roof of my mouth a nice burn! Ouch! Still was a great dinner in spite of that, though!
The last mission for the night was to get some cash for the Taxi, since they took cash only. As I walked out of the hotel area, I walked by a restaurant/bar, and all of a sudden I felt something hard pelt my arm! Absolutely confused, I look down and realize that someone in the restaurant pegged me with a chicken leg! Still confused, I looked around and tried to see where it came from, but I was almost in a fog of confusion from the incident and just kept walking, tossing it on the ground. What in the world?!? That was a lame move, and made me want to get home out of the UK even more!! Eventually I got the cash and made my way back to the hotel, making sure NOT to walk by the restaurant on my way back. After repacking my bag to try to condense it (living out of a suitcase for an extended period causes everything to explode!), it was time for bed before a busy day tomorrow.
Step Metrics: 11,336 steps; 5 miles; 506 cal; 1h 59m time