"Once upon a time" read my mother many times to me as a child. I thought of all those fairy tales when I experienced Brugge Belgium for the first time. It may be the most charming city in Europe. Looking our our hotel window was like looking down from the turret of a castle in a children's book: red slate roofs, winding, narrow roads and everything made of brick and rock in a pseudo-medeval style. But don't make the mistake I did in asking about the "German" restaurant down the street. I must have been the Ugly American with my insensitive question. It's DUTCH NOT GERMAN you idiot! ( a perhaps understandable response given that Belgium was invaded and occupied by the German army in both world wars. Unfortunately, for this viewpoint, 98% of the automobiles in Brugge are GERMAN!!!!!!!!!) This was an even bigger dress- down than the one I received from the old lady attendant in the mens room at the railroad station in Ostende when I announced that I didn't want to pay for a towel and was informed in that officious continental manner that it was NOT an option! Realizing that I was a stupid, and perhaps uncultured foreigner, she became a nice lady again when I gave her 20 cents instead of the required 10 cents! I must say that--and I know I'm a spoiled American--I don't particularly care for the practice of having Elderly lady men's room attendants. It's like having your granny go with you because you're not potty-trained! Couldn't they give them a little desk OUTSIDE?
On the positive side here, let me say that the people of Brugge were very nice to us. We took a bus from the train station to the Hotel Jacobs (a wonderful place we found through the tourist assistance office at the train station) when we arrived and ended up on a sight seeing tour of the city emersed in a sea of schoolkids returning home. After several round trips we asked the driver to let us out near the hotel. When we departed We decided to walk to the train station from our hotel and I'll never forget the man who came out of his house to ask us if we needed any help! You won't find that kind of person much anymore! Anyway, This is where I learned a good lesson: your wife is always right as she kept telling me I was leading us in the wrong direction. I read the map and continued. She was right and I had to pay for my mistake by carrying my 100lbs of luggage an extra 5 miles just to get to the central market place where, after my wife pointed out my mistake on the map we caught a bus to the train station. Let me add here that the Belgium beer and food were supurb!