Following on from my post yesterday about cruising from Southampton to Bruges, I thought I’d tell you about my first visit to the beautiful city in northern Belgium.
Everyone I’d spoken to about Bruges (which you might sometimes see in the Dutch spelling of Brugge) told me that it’s stunning and it really is! However, what I didn’t know is that it’s all covered in cobblestones. I really mean that! Every path and road has the potential to make your feet weary so if you go, do make sure you weary something comfy! But it’s a compact city that’s easy to get around and full of character. It’s packed with beautiful architecture and canals that make it sometimes known as Venice of the North.
Our coach dropped us off on the outskirts of the historic city centre which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and we had a really lovely tour guide. A 10 minute walk took us through a park and museum gardens to reach the shops and cafes. The city’s architecture is really unusual but there are lots of Gothic and Neo-Gothic buildings along with houses that have a distinctive stepped-triangular appearance and give Bruges a very special skyline.
The canals go right round and through the city, and there are plenty of opportunities to take a 30 minute trip. We were there during the day but I can imagine how taking one much later in the day would perhaps give a stunning lit view of the city. The canals even take you under the buildings like the photo below and there was one particularly low bridge where we told to duck! We came across a huge whale! But this whale was made out of plastic that had been taken from the oceans, including toilet seats.
We’d arrived around 9.15am and the market was setting up. There weren’t too many people around but our guide told us that the city would get busier and it certainly did! Clearly, there were many coach loads of tourists, each being led by a guide holding up a flag or similar to show their presence. The market was really interesting with lots of wooden and metal goods as well as touristy bits. There were even beer glasses that had beer-like candles inside! But there are also shops that sell Belgian chocolates, Belgian lace, etc. We have a rule in our family that you have to buy a magnet so I made sure that I did before returning to the coach.
One of the buildings in the city centre is the Belfry of Bruges and you can climb its 366 steps – we didn’t! it has 47 bells which seemed to be chiming most of the time that we were there. It had an exhibition about flax and there were beautiful flax flowers which each bloom only for a single day. Apparently flax needs only 100 days to reach 1 metre long and it’s known for being one of the most ecologically fibres on our planet.
And cafes! So many cafes and restaurants with prices that weren’t actually too bad. It was funny actually because there was one where I had a few moments to quickly do a TripAdvisor report (as I didn’t want to forget its name) and a waiter saw that I was on the TripAdvisor app. He jokingly told me to leave a nice review so I asked if I’d get a discount. What I wasn’t expecting was to get another drink completely free so yay!
But I did what I wanted to do. I just wanted to meander the streets and just soak in the atmosphere with no particular agenda. i wanted to capture the images of Bruges that you often see online. I could have gone to a brewery and a heap of other things but sitting in the gorgeous sunshine having a drink was much more preferable!
In a couple of days, I’ll do a review of May as it’s been packed with so many incredible experiences and I’ve made huge strides towards ticking things off my bucket list. But it’s also time to look forward. I don’t know about anyone else but it’d good to have dates in the diary, especially after a super experience so that you don’t get the post-holiday blues!