Bruges, Belgium

Ever since watching "Im Brugge", I had listed Bruges as one of the top places to visit! The apparent discord between the harshness of the movie scenes and the beauty of Bruges made quite a profound effect on my impressionable soul!

Bruges is located mere 50 minutes (by train) from Lille. On the day we set off the weather was perfect - sunny and warm; the boys were in an excellent mood after a couple of freshly-baked croissants. We arrived early in the morning and headed straight to the info centre. Would I sound like an old lady by saying that times are really changing? - apparently, I could have downloaded a walking tour of Bruges on my iPhone. Oh well, we had to succumb to the traditional way of using a map and a sense of direction (or a lack thereof, in my case).

The town's history starts around 2000 years ago with a small Gallic-Roman settlement. Only in the 9th century, when the Normans had penetrated the territory and called it Bryghia (port, landing), the territory began to develop some significance as an international port connecting to the North Sea through a channel. The 15th century saw a growth spurt of the town - it prospered through trade and commerce: Middle-eastern spices, wines from Normandy, grain, Flemish cloth came through and was traded in Bruges. The Dukes of Burgundy made the town their main residence and it became the largest cultural centre north of the Alps. However, starting around 1500, the Zwin channel, which had given the city its prosperity, started silting.

The next 4 centures saw the demise of Bruges, which luckily, preserved the architecture, as for the lack of funds, no construction and development was done! Today, Bruges is the most representative town of the medieval Flemish architecture.

The tower leans 1.20cm
(or 82cm depending on the source you read)
Bruges is a city for endless walks, where narrow cobbled streets take you in twists and turns, stretching for a few miles off the area's centre.

As a must-do we climbed a winding 366-stair 83-meter-high Belfry tower, with the boys counting most the stairs on our way up. They say that on a good day you can see as far as 12-km away, but apparently, it was not a very good day as the view from the top was somewhat obstructed by partial renovation of the tower.

The Little Nomads and I took a pretty sketchy bus tour but this gave the Big Nomad an opportunity to roam the streets and take great photos, which I'm using in this blog.

We did lots of walking - it's hard to describe the line-ups of airy enchanting streets with neat houses, charming squares, and of course, the canal. The serenity of this place didn't cease to amaze me,  despite occasional groups of very loud Russian tourists. Overall, the number of tourists was not overwhelming and we enjoyed the freedom of roaming the streets without bumping onto other people or having to wait in line to get into any place. A pretty good chocolate museum gave the Little Nomads a well-deserved break from the streets. To wrap up the day, we took a boat tour. 

Cambrian King - the King of Beers
No trip is complete without visiting local restaurants. The kids had the usual Belgian fare -you've got to try French fries and mussels in Belgium that are larger than their French counterpart, decadent hot chocolate and Belgian waffles!

Cambrinus (Philipstockstraat 19), featuring 400 local beers, really depressed the Big Nomad - too little time to try all of them!!!

On the other hand, the same restaurant has a  buyer-beware picture of Cambrinus, the King of Beer - an oversized drunk, who obviously,  had way too much beer in his life.

In spite of this image glaring at me from the restaurant's walls, menu, and coasters, I had a Brugge Zot (a local blonde) and a glass of the restaurant-brewed Cambrian.
The menu features
over 400 types.

The Hotel where "In Bruges" was shot
The same hotel

Belgian Waffles for lunch

No comments: