You mean it's not free? Soda, vino or over-priced tap water?

Now that the Kid and I were comfortably settled into our Bruges hotel, our earlier setbacks virtually forgotten, it was time to lace up our sneakers and head out in search of fine Belgian cuisine and indulge in some moules, munch on a couple of frites and swill back a few bottles of cherry infused Kriek.  Luckily for us, our quaint hotel was located just a few metres off of the main square, an easy three minute traipse to caf├ęs, shops and fine dining establishments catering to the indiscriminate tastes of tourist budget menus.  That is, if over-priced pizza, bread and tap water (huh?) qualify as fine gastronomic delicacies worthy of five-star glowing Michelin reviews.

Tummies grumbling, desperate to be fed anything that resembled food, be it stale crisps or unappealing rubber chicken, my niece and I would happily have been content to chow down on literally whatever at this point.  Reluctant to dine on plastic wrapped vending machine pre-packaged foodstuffs whilst miserably sequestered for hours upon end in a railway station, we had foolishly ignored our hunger pangs, instead envisioning a table laden with gourmet fare - a highly anticipated feast that we would treat ourselves to upon our arrival in medieval canal-lined Bruges.  What we hadn’t expected was to instead race into the very first restaurant that we stumbled across, regardless of the menu choices offered, anxious to sink our teeth into any type of grub.  And that is how we ended up in one of the denizens of random eateries that encircled the town’s main square, squished in like a sardine alongside the boatloads of other ravenous tourists. 

Quickly scanning the menu, I ordered a pizza Margherita, a ham and cheese stacked sandwich for the Kid and a lager for myself.  Mindful of the fact that soda costs an arm and a leg in Europe, more than double the price of vino at 5 Euro or more, I reminded Miss Niece that tap water is free, delicious and oh so yummy.  Too famished to protest the abject unfairness of her Coca-Cola-free lunch, le niece hungrily devoured her meal, washing it down with the free water. Oh, did I mention that tap water is free?  Well, apparently not, as this fine dining establishment had the audacity to charge us 2 Euro for the privilege of drinking regular water poured from a sputtering fawcett!  Had I been privy to the underhandedness of the shameless waiter who charged us for mere water, I would have gladly encouraged the Kid to order a Perrier or any other type of bubbling concoction, even le dreaded Cola at an exorbitant 5 Euros a pop, for that matter.

Leaving quite the unpleasant taste in our mouths, this initial welcome was not the most desirable of ways in which to acquaint ourselves with this quaint medieval town.  So, let this be a lesson to all of you would-be globe trotters.  Take the time to scout out prospective dining establishments and read the fine print on the menus, as in my haste to satiate our rumbling tummies, I perhaps had neglected to notice that even tap water was subject to a 2 Euro payment fee.  Nonetheless, I no longer objected to the Kid ordering the occasional Coca-Cola with her dinner, as hey, it could be worse, as she could instead be guzzling that oh so yummy over-priced common tap water by the truckloads, consequently breaking the bank and bankrupting me into a penniless existence. 

Come dine on gastronomic delicacies by washing it all down with some yummy, exorbitantly over-priced tap water, which costs a pretty penny or two, so why not indulge in some cheapo vino instead?  Come traipse around Europe with the Kid and I as we amble, meander and stumble on ahead in our quest to discover new found adventures.

Next week – where else in Bruges do our pink-sneakered feet take us?  Stay tuned!!

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