Around the World in 32 Days: Country Number Nine!
The original itinerary for Belgium had Brussels as the main stop, with Bruges planned as a possible day trip. The terrorist attack that shut down the city and crippled the public transportation system invited an adjustment, and Bruges became our main stop. Despite the terribly sad reason for passing on Brussels (for now), Bruges proved to be a delight.
If Luxembourg is Europe’s comfortable pair of wool socks, then Bruges is its bespoke smoking jacket. If I had to pick one city to represent classic Europe, this would be it. Canals wind through the city and fantastic church towers loom over café filled squares. Antique windmills decorate the town’s perimeter. Boutique chocolate and waffle shops pepper the city, making it one of the most pleasant smelling places I visited on this trip.
Speaking of waffles and chocolate! Anyone who offers you a ‘Belgian’ waffle, made from a sad waffle iron in a Holiday Inn lobby, dripping with excess batter and despair, should have their taste buds scraped from their tongue. The real deal is a bewitching combination of fluff and crunch, both dense and airy at the same time. It’s like it was made by an angel and dusted with powdered sugar by a unicorn who hadn’t yet heard of type two diabetes. I’ve always spurned waffles in the past in favor of pancakes, but no more.
A few days in Bruges passes by quickly. There’s lot to do but it’s a small city center and walkable, letting you pack in as many things as you would like. Well, this time of year it does. The weather is known for being capricious in spring, and it was, going from wind-swept and snowing to sunny and blue skies within just a few minutes. This helps keeps tourism down a bit, though there where plenty enough roaming the canals and streets to help us appreciate how crowded it would really get in peak season.
The Belfort stands sentinel over the main square, the Markt. Its tower is 366 steps to the top, and it’s one of the most interesting towers I’ve climbed. Progressively more narrow and claustrophobic as you go up, it’s the only one I can recall having switchbacks along the way. The views from the top aren’t that remarkable, but still, it’s worth the trek up. A canal boat tour is fun, cheap, and let’s you see the underside of a few century old bridges – just watch your head.
The canals, the architecture, along it’s former place as one of the most powerful and influential port cities in the world, leave it with an abundance of well-preserved history that’s so damn charming and relaxed. It’s a little sad to pack up and leave, but this evening we head to Amsterdam for the final part of the trip.
How we got there: Train from Luxembourg to Burges 52 Euros
Where we stayed: Airbnb on Langestraat street.
What we did:
Historium- Multimedia tour of old Bruges complete with Oculus Rift boat 3d tour. It’s quirky but fun.
Museum St-Janshospital – the Belgians have a flair for theatricality and this comes across in this fun museum, complete with witch exhibit and old hospital supplies
Brouwerij De Halve Maan – the only remaining brewery inside the city of Bruges
Canal Boat Tour
Lizzie Waffles – Great waffles, charming owners, just go and give them your money.
Bierbrasserie Cambrinus – nice pub, good prices, over 400 beers. Cheers!