Every year my boyfriend and me we set up our to do a list with 10 places we want to visit. I choose 5 and he choose 5 as well. Since I am in love with medieval history I decided to put Bruges on our to do list last year. We manage to set up the plan to visit Bruges a week before Christmas, not because Bruges was on the bottom of our list, but because we want to experience that Christmas spirit of this romantic medieval city in Belgium.
In generally we work hard but we always find the time for our little escapes. You don’t have to be rich to travel. With good planning and google searching you are able to find perfect deals that suit’s your financial abilities. My advice for all of you who wish to travel, but you think you do not have enough money, next time when you go to the shopping mall to spend your money on things you don’t really need, just stop for the second and think about to put this money aside to create experiences for the life time. It is wiser to have stories to tell, than to have staff to show. It is never to late to realize that material things are not important. Just stop buying random things that you don’t really need and start to collect memories and experiences.
So let’s go back to the Bruges. We start our journey from Amsterdam Schiphol airport. We took a plane to Brussels. The flight lasts about 45 minutes. From Brussels airport we took a train directly to Bruges (1 hour approx). Since the cheapest flight was the evening flight we arrived at Bruges an hour before midnight. All the shops at the Bruges train station were closed at the time. We couldn’t see any particular signs how to go to the center from the train station, so thanks to google maps we managed to find the right direction.
By the time we start to walk towards the center true this beautiful old cobbled streets, charming squares, pass by old houses with beautiful facades, we got the feeling that we are walking back in time. It seems like we were walking true some kind of open air history museum. It was so quiet, an absolute silence, the only thing we can hear was our own steps. It was so mysterious and kind of spooky. No sign of life anywhere. I am so happy that we had a chance to experienced our first impression of Bruges this way. We walk, admire and we enjoy everything around us, with nothing at all to distract us or to interfere with our joy of reaching the destination of our dreams. Actually I really felt like I was living a dream.
I wanted to stay at the Boat Hotel De Barge, unfortunately there were no available rooms at the time, so we booked true booking.com a room at the Martin’s Brugge hotel. Hotel is placed in the heart of the city next to the main market, and near of the most museums and attractions of the Bruges right across the street from the Belfry of Bruges medieval bell tower. This hotel is not one of the cheapest, but is not extremely expensive. Our room was actually a suite with a small living room, bedroom with nice soft bed and large bathroom, nice, clean and spacious. Staff was friendly, breakfast delicious but crowded. There is also nice place for smokers in the garden.If you wish to book the same hotel. please check the next link on Booking.com website to see the price, availability and reviews.
Since we arrived late and we were kind of thirsty and hungry, we decided to search for some food. Unlike other peaceful and quiet parts of the city we passed on our way to the hotel it was a very different atmosphere at the central square in front of the Belfry of Bruges tower. We find a lot of people there and also few open fast food canteens. We ordered some hot-dogs, french fries and beers.The fellow behind the counter was very friendly, so he start chatting with us. Soon he find out that we come from Greece, he start to talk on Greek language with us. We were so surprised. He shared his life story with us. He told us how he came from a small village in Albania to Greece 20 years ago. He consider his life in Greece as the best years of his life. But eventually because of the economic crisis in Greece he decided to move to Belgium with his family a few years ago. Since he was also so excited to meet us and have a chance to speak Greek with us, he overload our portions so much so despising the fact how hungry we were and how delicious the food was, we really couldn’t eat all of it after all.
Next day after breakfast we start with exploring. There is a lot of things to do and to see in Bruges. The Chocolate Museum – Choco story dedicated to chocolate and its history it’s one of many places we visited. It is quiet of experience, we learn a lot about chocolate.
We also visit the Diamond Museum Brugge and attend to their work shop where we learn about diamond cutting, splitting, sawing, adjusting and sharpening and many more.
Of course we visit and climb to the top of Belfry of Bruges medieval bell tower. We got tired but it was worth it. It was a quite of experience to stand under those ancient 47 bells and feel their sound true your entire body. The view from the tower despising the fog was outstanding. So if you are able to climb the stairs you should definitely visit this tower
We also took a Boat trip true small channels that run through the city with the most beautiful and romantic bridges over it. Some of the bridges are very low so watch your head. On the boat trip that lats about 45 minutes, you can admire the most beautiful places of Bruges from a completely different point of view.
Nice place to visit is also the Princely Beguinage (The Princely Ten Wijngaerde). There is a Begijnhofkerk (church) surrounded with thirty whitewashed little houses from the 17th and 18th centuries.There you can find a museum where you can see how they used to live in these houses around the 17th century. Today, the nuns of the Order of St. -Benedictus live there, so you have to be quiet when you are around, also photography is forbidden.
Outside of the Beguinage is the beautiful lake The lake of love with a lot of swans and ducks. In the distant background you can see the Minnewaterpark. By the lake is the square where horses and coachmen rests By the way if you wish a ride in a carriage it cost 50 EUR for 4 people. There are a lot of cozy Flemish restaurants with a great food around too.
We also visit the famous Bourgogne des Flandres brewery. There you can explore the brewery and breathe in the smell of malt and fresh hops in the loft. You can see how the beer is brewed with your own eyes! It is the also one of the must to visit in Bruges. You can after tour true brewery enjoy nice lunch and glass of beer in their restaurant. Staff is friendly and everything we ate was delicious. Weather was nice and sunny so we enjoy one more beer after lunch on the terrace above the channel watching the boats passing by and chat with some interesting people.
The Torture Museum Oude Steen is small museum but definitely worth it. You can see the different ways people used to torture other people in the medieval era. You can experience the special effects also. I wont tell you everything so you can discover yourself on your next visit to Bruges.
At the Main square in Bruges around Christmas is there a lot of things to do. Museums to visit, the Belfort, lots of pretty cafes and restaurants. The square is surrounded by old and nice buildings. It’s a great place to start a day in Bruges as everything is accessible from here. In the middle of the square is ice skating rink. Around the skating rink there is a Christmas market. The whole city is sounded and everywhere you can hear the same music, mostly well known Christmas songs. The smell of chocolate is everywhere. Shops with the famous Belgian chocolate are on every corner. Shops are in generally glorious and beautifully decorated.
On the main square is the Historium. Museum where you can discover the magical atmosphere of the Golden Age and the history of Bruges true the interesting story. For me personally the experience that I really enjoyed was the exploring this medieval city true virtual reality experience in the Historium. I can definitely recommend this experience to all of you. It was my first virtual reality experience and it was amazing.
The Basilica of the Holy Blood was originally built in the 12th century as the chapel of the residence of the Count of Flanders. The 12th-century basilica is located also in the Burg square and consists of a lower and upper chapel. The basilica is best known as the repository of a venerated phial, said to contain a cloth with blood of Jesus Christ brought to the city by Thierry of Alsace after the 12th century Second Crusade.
We staid 3 nights and two days in Bruges. We couldn’t see everything, but we tried to see as much we can and we also enjoyed the nice food, drinks and sweets.
During the weekend streets were very crowded, especially because of Christmas markets and Christmas sales from 50% to 70% in most of the shops. So if you love to shopping, Christmas time is the nice time for you to visit Bruges. I did not enjoy very much this crowded atmosphere but some of you maybe will.
We returned home fulfilled with the happiness of this unforgettable experience. Of course we brought along few boxes of real Belgian chocolates for us. I’ll definitely come back in Bruges again but probably in the spring or summer time.