Brugge, Belgium

This weekend Sam and I took a quick trip with our friends Emily and Dave to Brugge, Belgium. They are world travelers, seriously, so we were excited that they invited us on this whirlwind trip – we only stayed one night! My brain is still processing the fact that I can go to continental Europe and back in just two days; it opens the doors for many more quick trips!

We took the ferry from Dover, England to Calais, France. It was as easy as could be! Drive on, wait 9o minutes (I suggest euchre to pass the time), and drive off!

Passing time on the ferry as we crossed the English Channel.

Crossing the English Channel. 

Brugge, Belgium is just a short drive from Calais. My first impressions of France were that 1) it was very flat with hardly any trees and 2) there was a LOT of graffiti. Clearly I need to return to France for them to make a more accurate and memorable impression.

Graffiti everywhere!

Graffiti everywhere!

After checking into our hotel and relaxing for a few minutes we headed out into the city.

Our tiny "pod" room had all the necessities and not much else. :) We stayed at an Ibis Hotel.

Our tiny “pod” room had all the necessities and not much else. We stayed at an Ibis Hotel near the train station.

The view from our hotel room. What city is this again?? Oh... yeah.

The view from our hotel room. What city is this again?? Oh… yeah.

Brugge met my expectations immediately… it was old, charming and surprisingly tidy. The city itself dates back to the 1100s; many of the city’s buildings are hundreds of years of old. Rows of wise, mature buildings hover over every sidewalk, but not once did it seem claustrophobic. Worn cobblestone roads encourage you down the next street or alley, cleverly distracting from standard tourist traps and stores.

These buildings were from the 1400s.

These buildings were from the 1400s.

Bruges has a seemingly unlimited supply of beckoning side streets. (However, this proved to be problematic when looking for specific locations...)

Brugge has a seemingly unlimited supply of beckoning side streets. (However, this proved to be problematic when looking for specific locations…)

The horse drawn carriages meant BUSINESS... get out of their way, because they're not stopping.

The horse drawn carriages meant BUSINESS… get out of their way, because they’re not stopping. I kept asking, “Wait, are we on a street?!” because the sidewalks and roads were not clearly marked. No kerbs, no paint, but I’m glad. (And clearly I lived to form that opinion).

I took way too many pictures of buildings and rooftops, but I just could not get enough of their height and color!

I took way too many pictures of buildings and rooftops, but I just could not get enough of their height and color!

To balance out the close, cozy streets, the town has two large, open squares. The main square – the city centre – is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with the 82 mile meter Brugge Belfry keeping watch. The belfry was originally built in the 1200s, but burned down and has since been rebuilt.

The Belfry of Bruges

The Belfry of Brugge

The city centre all aglow.

The city centre all aglow.

The city centre.

The city centre in the shadow of the belfry.

The Provincial Court building behind us.

The Provincial Court building behind us.

There was some debate over the actual height of the belfry... Let's just say it looked taller than 82 meters.

There was some debate over the actual height of the belfry… Let’s just say it looked taller than 82 meters.

Sam visited Brugge back in college and remembered being a little disappointed… Mainly because it had been described to him as the “Venice of the North.” That, it is not. There is little Venetian about it, but that doesn’t make it any less impressive. (Just don’t expect Venice). There are, however, beautiful canals that weave through the city. Thankfully we had crisp sunny weather that made the water shimmer.

Bruges in the morning.

Brugge in the morning.

Bruges at sunset

Brugge at sunset

On the outskirts of the city

On the outskirts of the city

I have mentioned before that I’m typically not a “city person.” I normally don’t enjoy crowds and I don’t crave the energy that large groups of people are notorious for. That may be the reason I loved Brugge. There was so much to take in, incredible history at every turn, but I never felt crowded or ill-at-ease.  Even at night the city felt safe, so we relaxed, swapped stories and laughed until it was late.

IMG_4605

Belgium is famous for its chocolate, which I knew, and its lace, which I didn’t know. It is now also famous – at least in my mind – for it’s fancy Weimaraner art. Seriously, if I had the money, I would have bought this and displayed it with pride.

LOOK AT IT! Glorious, no?

LOOK AT IT! Glorious, no?

When in Belgium... right? The Belgian chocolate covered candied oranges are wonderful. I'm snacking on one right now, in fact!

When in Belgium… right? The chocolate covered candied oranges are wonderful. I’m snacking on one right now, in fact!

One of the main highlights of the trip (especially for the boys) was the Brugge Beer Festival. I think it is fair to say that I dislike the majority of beers, but the festival was still fun and I did enjoy a few of the ones I tasted. When we first stopped by on Saturday night it was crowded and stinky, but when we returned Saturday afternoon we actually had room to walk around and enjoy it. For the price of entry you received a 15ml glass and four tokens that you could exchange for samples from the various booths. For me, the best part was the people watching. All ages and demographics were present (even kids, though they didn’t imbibe from what I saw). We saw an old man in the middle of the huge room clutching a compass and directing, “We need to go west!” Ha!

Graffiti was encouraged at the beer festival. These guys were clearly artists, though.

Graffiti was encouraged at the beer festival. These guys were clearly artists, though.

Fun was had by all!

Fun was had by all!

Drinking it in...

Drinking it in…

We really enjoyed going on this trip with our new “best couple friends” Dave and Emily. 😉 It was nice to share meals with them, dine on Belgian Beer and Belgian Fries, and laugh. A lot.  

Though we were only there for two days, I saw enough to know I want to go back. There’s still much more to see, belfry stairs to climb, shops to explore, and chocolate to be eaten. Good thing we already have our next trip booked! 🙂

Advertisements

One thought on “Brugge, Belgium

  1. Pingback: Back to Belgium! | Adventures in Anglia

Fancy a comment?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s