Monday, November 21, 2011

. . . my birthday in Bruges

How often do people get to say that? Besides the Belgians of course. Keith and I decided a while back that we wanted to go out of town sometime soon and my birthday seemed like a great opportunity. We had heard wonderful things about Bruges, Belgium, and one not so wonderful thing -- the traffic leaving town can be horrendous if you leave too late. But we didn't have to worry about that until Sunday afternoon, so off we went.

Just getting there was a feat in itself, mostly because it was Saturday morning and Liam was doing what most everyone wants to do on a Saturday morning -- sleep in. So we had the car packed, all ready to go, and we were just waiting on him to wake up and eat. Which he finally did, and we were off to drop Murphy at the boarder for the weekend. Bruges is only a 2 hour drive from where we live, but when you add in a dog-stop, gas station, and another feeding for Liam along the way, we didn't make it until the afternoon. It wasn't too big of a deal though because we were staying in the Crown Plaza right downtown and easily walked right into the square as soon as we arrived and got ALL of our luggage into the room. I think I forgot to mention how much STUFF a baby needs! I was amazed -- the pack and play, 5 outfits, 5 burp cloths, 10 diapers, wipes, socks, Itzbeen, infacol, and a ton of other essentials and non-essentials. All for approximately 24 hours. We've already figured out what we truly need and what can stay at home next time. But I digress.

Walking around Bruges was absolutely beautiful. It is one of the oldest cities in Europe and the architecture, roads, and history are amazing. We really lucked out because everything was decorated for Christmas and made me feel so excited to celebrate it soon. Although the Dutch celebrate Sinterklaas, the towns in the NL aren't as decorated for Christmas as I would hope. At least not yet. So it was exciting to see wreaths and lights and fake snow galore!

There are carrots on the tree to feed to Sinterklaas' horse

We stopped at a little corner cafe for a drink and for me to feed Liam (again -- does the kid ever stop??)

The brasserie we stopped at for drinks

The Belfry (bell tower) -- like how I pieced these two pics together? haha : )

My view at dinner
We asked the hotel concierge for a dinner recommendation and she suggested La Petit Grand, right around the corner from the hotel. We bundled Liam up in his sling and off we went to dinner. It was absolutely delicious. We had grilled prawns for an appetizer, I had salmon (of course), and Keith had the hare. All of our food was made to perfection and Keith and I spent the next two hours talking and laughing and reminiscing. It was the absolute best birthday dinner I could have asked for -- my sweet son sleeping in my arms, and having awesome conversation with my incredible husband.

What more could a girl want for her 29th birthday?

A horse and carriage ride, that's what. : )

So after dinner we walked around town some more to explore and look at lights, and eventually picked up a ride on a horse and buggy and took a scenic tour of the city. Our tour guide was Evy and our horse was Sarah. It was a beautiful winter night and she told us all about the different buildings, churches, clock towers, monasteries, and convents we passed.

Us with Sarah

It was so fun and romantic and ended perfectly on time, as Liam was beginning to awake from his long slumber. We headed back to the hotel, fed Liam, and off to bed we all went.

The next day we slept in, had some breakfast at the hotel, and did a little more walking around the city in search of some souvenirs. The only one we bought was this Belgian waffle (they just call them waffles, of course)-- more deliciousness. : )

It turns out Sinterklaas was coming to Bruges on Sunday, and making his grand appearance on the canal and walking around the city. Now I know I mentioned the traffic earlier -- I was not looking forward to a 5 hour drive with an infant, so we headed out of town before the madness began.

We can't wait to go back and hopefully take friends there as well -- it was an amazing weekend, and I came home feeling more blessed than I deserve to be. I told Keith that while my birthday has always been exciting and wonderful and something I look forward to as soon as Halloween hits, this year was different. When I woke up Saturday morning, Keith whispered "Happy Birthday" and for the briefest second I literally thought, "But isn't every day this great?"

Ever since Liam was born I truly feel blessed beyond measure. Nothing makes me happier than to see that smile and know Liam is happy and taken care of. This birthday was of course extra special now that I'm a mom, but every day feels this awesome. I really hope that this feeling doesn't dull over time or ever feel mundane. I hope Liam grows up knowing that he makes every day feel like a birthday.

Happy Birthday Mom!



  1. Jessica, I love your blog! I think by the time Liam is 5 or 12 you'll be able to bundle it and sell it as a book and make millions!

  2. Thanks! At the very least it's a nice way to "journal" and have remembrances of this awesome adventure... :)

  3. Traditionally, the Dutch don't start decorating for Christmas until after Sinterklaas (5 December), so don't worry, there'll be more ;) (although maybe still not as much as in the States)

  4. Funny thing is that the feeling and the joy of being a mom doesn't (or hasn't yet for me anyways) dull or fade away. They're always doing something new and wonderful (even on the days they make you want to rip your hair out) and they make you smile more than ever! Glad your birthday was spectacular!