I am taking you to Bruges today.
Click on the map to see larger version
This is what the official site of Bruges writes: "In the 15th century – Bruges’ golden century – the fine arts reached their highest form of expression. Famous names such as Jan van Eyck and Hans Memling came to live and work in the city. Today, you can still admire the magnificent paintings of these world-famous Flemish primitives, standing face to face with masterpieces that were created more than 500 years ago in the very heart of Bruges."
It's true to the last word.
A starting point for us - the metro station
from Stuyvenberg to Gare du Midi
and onto the train
There's a direct line taking you from Brussels to Bruges, it takes less than one hour. If you are a careful planner, you can take your journey on a Saturday (like we did) and save 50% for a weekend ticket, costing some 15 euros there and back.
The train is surprisingly clean, considering that we took 2nd class, and that the train was packed with tourists heading the same way - so, find your spot fast and sit down for a lovely trip. Looking out the window gives you the view of wonderful countryside.
After leaving the train, things are quite simple. Since it IS a tourist-friendly place, everything is well marked, there are a lot of maps.. but bare in mind that Dutch is the only language in use.
Here we go:
Lovely chapel, the courtyard is open for public viewing
and inside there's almost always some kind of exhibition.
Thomas Montanus (1617-1685), physician of the City of Bruges,
is the author of a voluminous treatise on plague, published in 1669,
and written after an epidemic of plague in Bruges in 1666
You'd be surprised by the simplicity of architecture,
and the durability of it all:
this lasts for centuries - and gets walked over
by thousands of people every single day.
See "the old"?
Nothing here is ruined by "modernization", and all the structures
have been adapted to fit the overall look.
What do the regular tourist do?
They take boat rides on the river, and explore the town like that.
This is one of many channels, paths of the route.
Due to the fact that we have chose a Saturday's visit, Bruges was packed with folks (note here: take caution not the get struck by the modern item called "the selfie stick", since everyone seem to be quite liberal with it, and wave around without paying much attention on surrounding people). Standing in line for a boat ride might take up to an hours, so if your visitation time is limited, I'd opt for a regular foot-paths.. we went walking and managed to find a flea-market that sells antiques and souvenirs ; pricey, but if you want a memorabilia from you trip to this "Moyen Âge" town - you can find lovely items out there.
One thing you must surely do here is:
Buy some chocolate!
Naturally, you want to eat waffles, and they will serve them to you in so many different ways, you'll find it hard to decide. They are "heavy" food, so if you're watching your weight, you might want to stick to choosing not to munch on your freshly bought batch of chocolates AND your waffle.
We chose something else:
went out for coffee and complimentary chocolates,
and have not regretted it.
There are some unusual statues in town.
Here's a hint: this one represent the time of the plague
(for all of us, European heritage people, plague was in history books,
for others, you can read about it here.. but it's not a pleasant reading material)
Whenever I see a lion statue, I must take a photo with it
it something I have been doing since I was a child.
Taking a tour around Bruges can last for a whole day. You can, however, take smaller route and spend a lovely afternoon in this magnificent town, making it back just in time for supper. With my colleague's busy schedule, this was what we did.
It was a complete enjoyment.
A selection for the end:
1. Me, taking coffee in a lovely little coffee-shop that serves chocolate
2. A way of hiding building-work in a medieval town, funny and quirky
3. See: "there and back" for 15,2 EUR.. not bad?
Images are far from the original. If you ever head out for a holiday, if you ever decide to visit Europe, spare some hours and head out to Bruges. We have been advised to do just that, and I haven't regretted listening to that advice.
Bruges is wonderful. Everything is to my liking: it's a pedestrian-friendly town, it has amazing architecture, they make great coffee here and chocolate is divine.
I hope you've enjoyed this little "tour" of mine.
Have a great Tuesday.