Is Paris to you that romantic city you dream of visiting with the love of your life, the way it was always for me? I say it’s time to reconsider that little dream and give Bruges it’s due. I am all for Paris, I think it has it’s own charm and I have previously expressed in words, more than just my love for the city of lights, HERE. But, Bruges was a pleasant surprise. The city felt a lot more snug and charming or maybe it was all the sorcery of hand made chocolates and Zot beer that got us touring the place, all while beaming in contentment?Either way the city is truly captivating and extremely photogenic. Unfortunately, we were there only for a little more than half a day. We do really wish we had more time in Bruges to try out more restaurants and visit their offbeat museums. Especially, let time pass by taking in the relaxed and cheery mood of the place all while getting happily buzzed sitting by their scenic canals. The city has this fairy tale like elements everywhere, making it some thing like a set up straight out of a romance fable.
THINGS TO DO IN BRUGES
Gorte Markt/ Main Square
Bruges boasts of one of the most stunning main squares in Europe, literally the heart of the city. Their Market square is ringed by restaurants, old medieval buildings, the famous bell tower and beautiful echoing sound of horse ridden carriages. The very specific Gothic architecture exclusive to Belgium is very evident in Bruges, the cobble stone streets and their unique gingerbread and candy looking houses make for something dreamlike.
We enjoyed a of couple beers at few of the many restaurants there while watching locals and tourists enjoy the lovely sunny day of spring.
Markets displaying chocolate stores, souvenir shops and it was hard not to notice lace stores on the street, which later we got to know that people from all over the world come here to learn this 400 year old, traditional art of intricate lace making.
You will be tempted by chocolates filled display windows all over the city. They have a chocolate shop in every corner and some are more adventurous than the others. Like ‘cuban tobacco and curry flavours’. I managed to get a few impeccably detailed ‘adult chocolates’ for a friend’s hens.
You definitely have to try their interesting ‘spoon hot chocolate’ at the restaurants or buy some of those spoons which also come in a variety of flavours at the chocolate stores, as souvenirs for family or just yourself (trust me you wont have the heart to share after you have tried them). All we had to do was dip and swirl the spoons in hot milk and watch it turn all thick and chocolaty. So simple and yet so delicious. Something about Belgium chocolates that make everything better, even milk. Do try the baileys or whiskey ones for some warm kick in the chilly weather.
After some good ‘ol beer tasting we explored the street with chocolate shops of all imaginable kinds on either side. Our afternoon was spent sampling delicious hand made chocolates at shops we fancied, as it was near to impossible to cover sampling all the 50 plus stores in the city. The chocolatiers were rather generous with their samples as well because of which, lunch time never came around as we were so full from all the chocolate tasting.
Gardens and Canal ride
We figured it’d be best to put our heightened energy from all the sugar rush to explore further into the city. We first headed to the canals at Boottochten Brugge and the gardens. The stunning canals with even more striking medieval architecture is best experienced on a 30 minute boat trip. There are places which can actually admired only from the boats. This makes the already fairy tale-ish place even more romantic. There a some gorgeous parks to unwind; take your time and relax with a beer. The canals by the side of gardens home beautiful swans sun basking and trees filled with chirping birds. Now, that’s some real soul therapy.
The Belgians believe that they brew the best beer in the world and right fully so as they are delicious. I have to say having tasted beer in most parts of Europe, the beer here is gifted. Like I had mentioned in our Ghent travel story; at the restaurants/bars ask the waiter to recommend you a beer, they will be the best ones and mostly different at every bar or restaurant. I highly recommend the ZOT beer there and their varieties of blonds.
If it’s one place in Belgium that you want to touchdown, we highly recommend at least a night in Bruges to wake up rightfully hungover from all that beer sampling from the night before and for some fresh Belgium waffels and more beer for breakfast to cure that hangover. You can’t be hungover if you are still drunk, right?
Museums and Churches
Bruges has museums for almost everything the city is known for.
Thus they boast of all sorts of Museum here catering to your taste; Chocolate museum, Art museum, Historical Museum, The Lace Centre, Beer museum, Frite Museum and many other. Yes they have a museum dedicated to the famous Flemish Fries. These museums are fun exploring and also if you want to know the details about a specific celebrated thing Bruges stands for.
Bruges is also known for their gothic churches especially for the famous Basilica of the Holy Blood church. The churches are worth visiting to admire the amazingly detailed interior and architecture.
There is almost no language barrier and everything is close by. Savour some heavenly chocolates and one of the best beers you have ever tasted. This, well preserved gothic city is usually swarmed with tourists during peak seasons and especially during weekends. I highly recommend you to stay a night to admire the city once the sun goes down and sample as many beers as you want.
We wish we had more time to do things like;
- Chocolate tasting tour
- Beer Tasting tour
- Cover more museums
- Take a Canal Ride
- Visit the Basilica of Holy Blood Church
- More beer sampling on our own
- Stay a night
Hopefully we will cover all the above things the next time we visit this fable city where we have left our hearts at. After all Bruges will not be checked off our bucket list unless we have exploited it all.
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