Bruges – or Brugge if you prefer, depending on whether you are speaking French or Flemish – they both mean ‘bridge’ anyway – smells mainly of chocolate due to all the chocolate shops around, and the cafes and restaurants serving waffles with chocolate sauce. I have to admit that occasionally there is a whiff of what I will politely call drains, it’s a fact that old places also have ancient drainage systems.
Bruges is full of grand buildings set around several squares, some of these ones are just local government buildings I think.
Others are really old like these two, there were queues of schoolkids going up the stairs most of the time we were there, so we decided to give that sightseeing opportunity a miss – whatever the building was!
Like many towns in Belgium and Holland Bruges is ringed by water, it’s part of the charm of their towns. Bruges is in west Flanders and is known as the Venice of the north. The city centre is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Mind you, I don’t think I would like to be living in one of the houses that have water lapping at their walls, they must be terribly damp. There have been settlements in this area since the Bronze Age.
Anyway, we decided that a trip on the canal was a must although as the boat filled up with fellow tourists I was looking over the edge and wondering if it was safe, they don’t half pack people in! I think it is partly the boat trip that made me think that Bruges was so busy with tourists because when I look at the other photos it doesn’t look too crowded.
The name Bruges actually means bridges – obviously because there are so many small bridges all over the town, they’re all quite low but there’s only one that you have to duck your head to get under it though, when you’re in the boat.
This is definitely the best way to get a view of the many ancient buildings around the town. It must be quite annoying though for the people living in the houses with constant tourist filled boats going past – with a guide talking through a microphone.
The swans mainly seem to congregate in this area, probably they take to the water when the boats retire for the evening.
We noticed what seemed to be two Swaene Hotels, a bit confusing.
A lovely lilac tree overhung the canal.
More photos of Bruges will be forthcoming, eventually!
In fact I’ve been back home for a couple of days now, but I’ve been busy getting back to ‘normal’ and doing the garden, it looked very lush when we got back – and I had been worrying that it would all be frazzled up as I knew the weather had been dry while we were away. It’s amazing how much everything had grown in the two weeks we were away in Belgium and Holland.
We got the car ferry from Hull in the north of England, sailing to Zeebrugge in Belgium. You might know that I enjoy a good rough sea, I keep saying that but for all I know I might suffer from sea-sickness now as every time we sail anywhere it’s always a flat calm, even when we were in the notorious Bay of Biscay. Luckily I don’t seem to suffer from claustrophobia as the cabins on the car ferries are teeny, definitely not even space to swing a cat – if you were that way inclined.
We sailed into Zeebrugge at 9.30 am and in no time Jack was driving towards Bruges which is just ten or so miles away from the port. There’s always that slightly hairy few minutes before you get used to driving/being driven on the ‘wrong’ side of the road.
Neither of us had ever been to Bruges before but had heard from loads of people that it is well worth visiting, and they were correct. It’s actually much bigger than I had imagined it would be – lots of tourists of course, but also plenty of locals around. Bikes are almost as popular in Belgium as in Holland and I saw a tandem that was for hire amongst a pile of bikes, I was tempted by it, but J isn’t a cyclist so we explored by foot. Well the horse drawn carriage trip cost 50 euros, so I settled for taking a photo of them, but loads of people did hire them.
Between us we took over 500 photos, but I won’t inflict them all on you – honestly, these are just a few of them for now.
Everything here looks slightly misty. I didn’t think it really was even if the sky was a bit overcast.