A three-hour train ride brought us to Bruges on Wednesday. We were thrilled to be in the land of chocolate, beer, and crispy frites – I couldn’t imagine a place more well-suited to our tastes. We rolled our suitcases through the winding, cobblestone streets and made our way to our bed and breakfast, a little bummed by the rain that seemed to have followed us from Amsterdam, but struck by the beauty of this old, frozen-in-time town. We checked into our perfect room at Speelmansrei B&B and then headed back out in search of a pre-dinner snack. Our noses led us to the frites stand at the market square, and then, in a moment of sheer glory, the clouds parted and the sun began to shine on charming Bruges.

We wanted to throw up our arms and dance in the middle of the crowded square, but instead chose to dart toward the canal and see if we could snag a spot on one of the town’s boat tours. Within 30 minutes, we were seated in a little motor boat with several other sun-giddy tourists, and we were off. There are not words to describe the beauty of Bruges. Shoot, there are hardly photos to describe the beauty of Bruges. But this is our best shot:

We hopped off the boat with “is this place for real?” grins plastered across our faces, eager to check out more of the town. It felt like every corner we turned revealed some new picture-perfect setting.

Luck (or tourists’ intuition?) led us to a perfect little bridge just in time to watch the sun set over the canal. There was no one else around and we felt like this magical scene belonged just to us – I’m tucking that evening away in the never-ever-forget memory bank.

After watching the sky drain of its color, we walked over to Cambrinus for dinner – Shane read about this place online and was immediately sold when he heard that their beer menu boasts over 400 selections. I didn’t believe it, until they handed us the novel that is their beer list and we saw the endless rows of bottles stocked in cases behind the bar. I froze in a moment of option-overload and just ordered a glass of the draft blonde, but Shane asked for a recommendation and ended up with a bottle of Malheur – one sip of its rich, caramel-toned goodness and he had decided he was drinking the best beer ever.

We dined on a giant bucket of steamed mussels, paired with onion soup and another round of beer. Life is so, so good.

And to think that our first six hours in Bruges were just a taste of what the following day would hold (stay tuned)…