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I took the lazy tourist's way out and booked an all day tour to Bruges and Ghent. It was cold, but beautiful - it really felt different to be in the Flemish part of Belgium even though we were only an hour away from Brussels. Everything was so...tidy. Bruges looked like the Fantasyland section of Disneyland, or the sets from the Princess Diaries movies, especially with the Christmas decor already up. The only downside was that when we were in the boat cruising on the canals my favorite hat ever (gray felt with felt flowers on top) got blown off into the water right where the swans congregated. Ghent was much more compact and in some ways more interesting. There's quite a castle there and a painting by Rubens in the main cathedral. I bought another hat in Ghent, a fancy black Austrian number with little ear flaps.

I was a little surprised that neither Bruges nor Ghent didn't have any signs in English or French given that both are such big tourist destinations. Also, most of the people in the tourist group were Spanish - why leave Spain (weather currently in the 70s) for chilly Belgium?
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On November 18th, 2007 09:21 pm (UTC), nausica2 commented:
They're bored? ;)

It's a very popular destinations, my parents were there last summer. I still have some chocolate left, and it's so yummy!

What language was the tour? Because if it was in English and the Spanish tourists understood it, they're not normal Spanish tourists, I promise.
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On November 19th, 2007 07:52 am (UTC), ticklethepear replied:
Or maybe to avoid all the northern Europeans who flock to *their* corner of the continent? I'm sure Bruges is much much prettier in the summer! I wonder if they were exceptionally cheap tourists.

The tour guide spoke English, French, and Spanish, so while he was talking in one language at least 2/3 of the group was wandering off.
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On November 19th, 2007 11:17 am (UTC), nausica2 replied:
That's another possibility. This week there isn't a holiday, so maybe they're people who don't want to find other Spaniards when visiting other countries. In any case, it's not very common, you are right.

Ah, the language thing makes sense. 90% of travel brochures in Spain have the "Spanish-speaking guide" feature added, because languages aren't people's forte here.

My parents' pictures of Bruges are lovely. I don't know why, but Brussels has a reputation of "ugly city" here, same as Belgium. As most people do a Belgium and The Netherlands trip, Belgim tends to come out bad. My parents adored Brussels, though. A matter of taste, I'd say.
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On November 19th, 2007 10:36 pm (UTC), ticklethepear replied:
Brussels is actually pretty enough for me, but then again, I'm coming from America.
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