We fell in love with Brugge the moment we cycled into the outskirts of the city. The cobbled stones, the canals, the architecture in the evening light made for a great welcoming party. It felt a bit like stepping into a fairytale, back in time – with the swans floating effortlessly on glassy water creasing the reflections of the storybook houses above them.
We stayed in a tiny hotel, right next to the main square (markt). When booking the hotel, I selected a room on a higher floor, thinking it would be quieter, not thinking for a moment that the hotel might not have a lift! So each day we climbed about 6 flights of stairs to our tiny attic room. It was a lovely space, with sloping ceilings and attic windows through which we could hear the chiming of the church bells every hour.
The diet we committed to in this historic city comprised beer, chocolate, hot chocolate and pomme frites. We certainly didn’t feel like we were lacking any food groups! Oh yes, and we did eat Flemish stew for dinner…delicious, especially seeing it was followed by some more chocolate!
It rained a lot while we were there, which we believe is not unusual in Belgium – but we spent enough time out and about to enjoy what Brugge had to offer. We visited the Begijnhof or Béguinage, a secluded residence of whitewashed buildings surrounding a grassy courtyard, that used to house the Beguines – a lay sisterhood of the Catholic Church started in the 13th century, for single and widowed women. The serenity and sanctuary we felt within its walls was tangible – we were a week to late to see the daffodils in bloom, but it was still an exceptional place to visit. We visited the Church of our Lady, which is the tallest structure in Brugge and the second tallest brickwork tower in Europe. It is home to the ‘Madonna with child’ sculpture by Michelangelo, one of only a few of his works outside of Italy. Unfortunately quite a bit of the church was undergoing a restoration project, so we couldn’t see it in all its glory.
Due to the weather, we didn’t get to take some of the photos, showcasing the true beauty of this wonderful city – but hopefully the gallery gives you a small taste.
And no, we haven’t seen the movie…
Time in Brugge: 3 nights
BEST THINGS ABOUT BRUGGE:
- The chocolate and beer!
- The architecture and surrounds, everything is beautiful.
- Due to its incredible network of waterways, Brugge was a commercial powerhouse in the middle ages, and was considered to be one of, if not Europe’s wealthiest city.
- The historic centre of Brugge has been UNESCO listed since 2000.
- Along with chocolate, Brugge in renowned for its lace making, an intricate hand-woven art, dating back to the 16th century.
- The singer Gotye, (Wouter “Wally” De Backer) was born in Brugge, before emigrating with his parents to Australia at the age of two.
- The movie ‘In Bruges’ really was shot in Brugge, not on a Hollywood set.
- Bring an umbrella!
- Don’t eat in the Markt in Brugge, the prices are a lot more than the restaurants just a block away.
- Look for a sign saying ‘hand-made’ or ‘family recipe’ in the chocolate shop windows to avoid buying factory/mass produced chocolates.
- Try the Brugse Zot beer, it is brewed locally in ‘De Halve Maan’ brewery.