Bruges (spelt many different ways) in Belgium is probably one of the most photogenic places you’ll ever go to on your travels. It used to be a well-kept secret- but no more if you base it on the hordes of tourists that spill out of tour buses like ants and congregate in the small town’s main square. The good thing is that you have the place to yourself after 5 pm and it’s wonderful. This is definitely one of those places you want to stay overnight to enjoy the ambiance of one of Europe’s most perfectly preserved medieval towns.
You van take canal rides during the day in pretty much any language you want. We found this out because our small hotel was right on the canal and during the day you could hear the voices of the guides as they sped past. We took one of the canal rides ourselves and enjoyed it. The cost was reasonable at 8 euros,
There is a park called Minnewater about 20 minutes walk from the center of town and it’s a beautiful, quiet place. There are canals (of course), a small lake, quaint bridges and lots of greenery. Next to the park is the Beginhof, or Beguinage. The gardens are open for the public to walk around in as long as they are quiet. Other places like Amsterdam and Brussels have their own version of a beguinage but this one in Bruges was by far my favorite.
Here’s what one web site said about it:
“The ‘Princely Beguinage Ten Wijngaarde’ with its white-coloured house fronts, tranquil convent garden and beguinage museum was founded in 1245. This little piece of world heritage was once the home of the beguines, emancipated lay-women who nevertheless led a pious and celibate life. Nowadays, the Beguinage is inhabited by the Sisters of the Order of Saint Benedict. In the small beguine house, you can still gain insights into what daily life was like in the 17th century.” Another photo op.
Belgium is known for its textiles and the windows of the small shops were beautiful and inspiring. They reminded me of when I had my own shop. This is exactly the type of display I would have favoured.
Here’s another picture of a different, elegant shop. We passed these on our way to a chocolate shop – another famous export of Belgium.
It seemed like every meal we had was finished with chocolate – but who can complain about that?
My husband is a foodie so of course we had to taste all of the different foods that are special to each part of Europe we visited. In the Netherlands, as well as Belgium, french fries are served with mayonnaise. Of course you can get ketchup but you’ll get mayo by default unless you specifically ask for ketchup instead. Funny thing is that now I like mayonnaise on my fries. Go figure…
And, you can’t go to Belgium without trying their crepes or their waffles. Not all of them are served like what you see above. Food trucks sell waffles covered with chocolate syrup, ok for a snack, but to enjoy them properly, sit down and enjoy them as they were meant to be enjoyed.
There’s a lot more I could say about Bruges itself but there is one other very important thing about this town and that’s its proximity to Ypres, Passchendaele and other WW1 sites. But that’s for another post.