Bruges is famously one of the most beautiful towns in Europe – and as soon as we arrived, we could see why.
Bruges has canals and rivers a-plenty, criss-crossed by tiny bridges, church spires, and chocolate-box shops selling, appropriately, chocolate boxes.
We headed out to Wijngaardplein for breakfast to watch the swans, soak in the atmosphere and generally watch the world go by. It was full of tourists, but everyone looked happy and relaxed. We strolled down to Minnewater Park along the lake and back through the park, which was full of students having picnics.
Over the next couple of days we explored central Bruges, taking in the little squares and yes, more chocolate shops! We spent many an evening sitting in the Markt, the main square, enjoying the exquisite music played from the Belfort bell-tower.
We also took a boat trip around the canals of Bruges – it was interesting to see Bruges from another perspective and see how it joined up – although by the time we did this trip we had already explored most of Bruges on foot so we didn’t see anything new.
One day we headed to north Bruges to see the windmills and surrounding quaint streets, away from the hustle and bustle of central Bruges. We were the only tourists around which was nice. One of the windmills is a museum, so my husband wasted no time in scampering up into the windmill and waving from the window. I sat on a bench outside as I didn’t fancy the climb up steep wooden steps in my pregnancy!
On our last day it was raining so perfect timing to explore a brewery tour – we went to the Half-Moon Brewery which makes a popular local beer, and which is famed for its new 2-mile-long underground pipeline, installed underneath the city to pipe beer from the brewery to their bottling plant, to avoid the pollution and hassle of lorries having to drive through central Bruges. The tour explains the process of making the beer and shows you the large vats where it is mixed & fermented, and explains some of the historical equipment used in the past. The tour ends with a climb to the roof with great views (stairs were steep but if you follow the advice and go backwards and hold the hand-rails it is fine), and you get a beer afterwards – or for the non-drinkers you can choose a soft-drink.
The only thing to add is the presence of this clever bike park. Presumably a solution to bike-parking which doesn’t take up the whole main square, this is an underground solution – bang in the centre of town, well lit, sheltered from the weather, and presumably free. Well-done Bruges!
Food-wise, Bruges is famous for its waffles (which we tried both sweet and savoury), and Flemish Stew – a delicious meaty broth you can dip chips in! My baby-brain came out to play when after several days of eating these waffles, I asked my husband why everything comes with a mini-German flag 🙂
Overall Bruges was a wonderful place to explore, and perfect for a short-break (or baby-moon in our case) as it is compact and easy to walk around. For the eco-conscious it is also easily accessible by train from all around Europe and the UK thanks to the Eurostar (just change at Brussels).
Next blog: Damme, Belgium.
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