Instead going for a long continuous vacation to one place, this year we are doing short visits to various places.
We were looking for a two days off with my wife, without the kids (thanks mom :)). After browsing a bit we chose to go to Bruges in Belgium which is 2 hrs drive from where we live in The Netherlands.
We didn’t know anything about Bruges, so it was a bit of a gamble. Our selection criteria were the price and the distance of the hotel to city center. Join the journey below to find out about what Bruges has to offer...
In one of the reviews someone was mentioning about parking at a station cheaply instead of using the parking of hotel. That’s what we did too. We parked our car at “Brugge Centrum - Station” for 3,50 euro for 24 hrs with bus ticket to the city center (and return) included! Cleverly done to keep cars out of the city center. I always take a picture of where I parked my car to prevent an endless search :))
We went with the bus to a station nearby our hotel to quickly check-in and discover the city. After checking in we went out...
From first looks, Bruges reminded me of Amsterdam where the houses are alike. Old, historical and with very different architectural styles next to each other. I like this variety in different architectural styles. And also Bruges has canals like Amsterdam. Look at the beautiful old architectural styles...
We are walking towards the city center and while walking we are amazed with the beauty of the city...
The statue above is a statue of Jan van Eyck, a famous Flemish painter who lived in Bruges around year 1429. He is one of the innovators of Early Netherlandish painting and was highly influential among the painters back then.
We didn’t know that Bruges was a touristic city :) look at the crowd. We were also lucky with the weather.
The tower you see behind is the Belfry of Bruges, a bell tower in the center of Bruges. This is one of the iconic buildings of Bruges. We will approach it shortly.
Besides these nice old buildings and history, Bruges apparently is also very famous with the Belgian Chocolate. After each 3-4 shops in the street, there is a chocolate shop like. We are talking about more than 30 chocolate stores in the same area :)
Before continuing with to the city, we saw in the corner a small entry with the following name on the door: "Choco-Story Bruges".
Apparently this was a chocolate museum where you can see the whole journey of the cacao until now. Because there are a lot of photo's I took in this museum, I will publish this in a separate post to keep this post at reasonable size. Still, here are a couple of photo's from the Choco-Story Bruges.
We are walking towards the city center...
Finally we reached the city center of Bruges. It is a big square with a lot of people. Many tourists are here to see the city and the history of this city by visiting various museums available here.
The area is surrounded by beautiful buildings with the same characteristic architectural style. Very beautiful! In front of these buildings, you can find places where you can have breakfast, lunch or dinner as well as a drink to enjoy the view.
After quickly checking in, and walking to the city, we got hungry. It was between lunch and dinner, so the famous french fries of Belgium was a good idea :)
Belfry of Bruges
So, like mentioned above, the Belfry of Bruges in the city center, is a bell tower built around 1240. Back then it didn't have the current height. The upper stage is added around 1487.
This building was housing a treasury and archives. But also served as a post for looking out for danger. The total height of this building is 83 meters.
During our first day we kept walking to see what Bruges had to offer. Some people preferred a tour by horse cart instead of walking.
After following the crowd we arrived at this area where we saw a statue of Simon Stevin. Simon Stevin was a flemish mathematician, physicist and engineer. He made a lot of inventions around years 1600 and contributed to the science and engineering discoveries during his time.
In this square, there were also street musicians playing. I made a short video which you can watch below.
We called it a day after a couple of hours of walking. Going back to our hotel, we were looking around to admire the historical beauty of this city.
We closed the first day with dinner. We found a nice Italian restaurant called Carlito's close to our hotel. The pasta penne with salmon was delicious!
In day 2 we walked a bit further than where we left off in day 1. The impressive building you see below belongs to the Bruges City Hall. This is one of the oldest city hall in the entire Netherlands region. After a fire in Belfry in 1280 this place became the meeting place for the city council.
We walked through the passage here, to see what was behind this massive building.
Fish market Bruges
Behind Bruges City Hall, there was this famous "Vismarkt" Fish market of Bruges. In this small market they were selling paintings, toys, gifts and of course fish!
Canal boat tour
Next to the fish market, we saw the entrance of the canal boat tours. We were already wondering how we could take a boat tour, but we thought in the end we would find out. And here it is... The total tour took approximately half an hour, from which I filmed the first 5 minutes to give you guys a taste of Bruges by boat. Enjoy!
Waffles on a stick! What?!
We skipped a lot of chocolate stores, bought some chocolate boxes as gift, but tried to limit the chocolate eating ourselves. But when we saw this store and looked inside, we though we should give it a try :)
St. Salvator's Cathadral
While walking we saw this cathedral from outside. We didn't go inside, but this cathedral apparently is the main church of the city. It is also one of the few buildings which survived the past hundreds of years without major damage.
Initially this building was a parish church back in the 10th century. Around 1834, after the independence of Belgium, this church received the status of cathedral.
This is how the bells of the cathedral sounds like...
On our way to the main square of Bruges we saw this entrance, and saw that a lot of people were entering and leaving. This immediately took our attention :) Let's check it out...
Oh man that's a lot of alcohol bottles! :)
Our final stop is on the main city center square, the place called Historium. In this place, the promise is to let you experience the Golden Age of Bruges.
From the packages above, we chose the Time Traveller which included the Historium story + exhibition + virtual reality. Especially the VR part sounded promising.
Before entrance, you are asked for your preferred language to receive headphones and a device for the story telling. You are moved from room to room with some story telling in the background.
The decoration was impressive. In each room some window, curtains are being opened in the decoration with a small movie being played afterwards.
The story was about a helper called Jacob of the famous painter Jan van Eyck. He was assigned a task from his master to receive and bring the order items for the next painting from the harbor. The items which were arriving were a bit odd though, a parrot and a very beautiful girl named Anna. The painting the client wanted from Jan van Eyck was going to be from this girl and the parrot. So the journey of Jacob began... with falling in love with Anna...
In one of the final rooms below, we all sat around this table where there was a conversation in the movie. Cleverly done. It felt like we all were part of the conversation.
After the story ended, we are guided to the exhibition floor where we were guided through the early years of Bruges to the current state of Bruges.
The VR part of the tour was pretty awesome. You get VR kit where you get to see the old Bruges with some story telling. It felt awesome. At some certain point you get to fly over old Bruges and land in the current city center at the Historium building. I definitely advise people to take the tour including the VR.
The tour is ended with a balcony view of the city center.
Finally it is time to take a break and end our Bruges journey with a cup of coffee. I hope you enjoyed our trip photo's. In the end we are very positively surprised with the beauty of this city and strongly advise people to visit Bruges.
Thanks for reading!