Saturday, June 30, 2018

TRIP TO BRUGES. CHRISTMAS IN THE HIDDEN TREASURE OF EUROPE.

Welcome Back ! After a while, there is some action on the Blog! All the more. since I relocated to Luxembourg, Europe. 

So the wait ends. And what a way to end the hiatus, I'm too excited to cover the treasure hunt of one of the most beautiful cities of Europe, Bruges !

Bruges (or Brugge) has a distinct charm

There is a sense of a heavenly charm that you witness as the horse-carts move in their rhythm on the cobbled streets. With Christmas bells floating in the air, the Chocolate in your hand could not taste any better. Welcome to Bruges that is also known as Brugges, which made my Christmas even more special.

Christmas decorations at Bruges

Decorated Christmas Tree

Exquisite lighting of the main square

When I was in Bruges, the air of festivity resonated with the church bells in the festive mood. While Bruges is definitely a place worth visiting across all seasons. I thoroughly enjoyed my visit during fall. The festive mood, traditionally decorated Christmas markets


But let me list down why should Bruges be on Must visit list in Europe. The tips are covered in the later half as well.

WHY BRUGES MUST DEFINITELY FIGURE ON YOUR EUROPE ITINERARY:

  1. Bruges is Unique: Flanders as a region in Belgium has a unique culture, and Bruges belonging to its sub-region, Flemish seems to have been hidden somewhere from the tyrants in the history (and tourists recently). The number of tourists certainly don't do the justice with the potential of Bruges charm.
  2. Bruges is Medieval: For all its modern infrastructure, Bruges takes pride in retaining its medieval charm and trust me it has done astonishingly well. Be it the romantic horse carts taking you across the city, the architecture or the beautiful and immaculately neat cobbled streets, you are sure going to feel transformed.
  3. Locals in Bruges are friendly, welcoming: The locals in Bruges are really warm and welcoming towards tourists. People for sure, would go out of their way to help you. In fact, most Brugians thank tourists for helping their economy and their city be on the tourist map of the world. There are no concerns for hostile stares for encroaching in the locals' private space.
  4. Bruges is NOT similar to Venice: Often people would refer Bruges as the Venice of the North. Or in some way or the other bring a comparison. From my trip to Venice and this time to Bruges, trust me the cities are very different from each other. While there are beautiful canals and water bodies in both the places, in all other senses they are different. (Another post to follow on the subject extensively.) 
  5. English is widely spoken:  Unlike some of the other Belgian cities, there is a wider acceptance to English. Its proximity to UK and the substantial flows of the tourists would make you feel at ease.
  6. Compactness of places of interest: Most of the places to be seen in Bruges are concentrated in the Old city. The locals call the part of the city that is within the walls ! This makes an ideal case to decide and prioritize the places that you want to see without much of stress on the commutation time.
ITINERARY AND PLACES TO VISIT IN BRUGES

Start the trip by exploring Bruges at the night. Dip in the reflections of the falling lights in the Canal water while you decide the places that you want to see the next morning. The calmness and the peace of the night beyond the hustle and bustle of the tourists are accentuated by the incredibly beautifully lit monuments which takes you to another feeling all together.
Well lit canal at night - Bruges


Surreal beauty of the monuments

Luminous monuments with few tourists
'Lake of Love' makes the ideal early morning start on the next day. Several playful ducks and the old world bridges make the setting more than ideal for your wonderful day. One of the bridges on the canal would take you to the Old city. As you pass by several beautifully kept old houses, you can would reach Beguinage.
Early start to our trip

Across the canal in the early morning

Take that !

Lake of Love - Aptly so !

Playful ducks in the Lake of Love

Playful ducks in the Lake of Love

Once you reach, 'Church of the Our Lady' through Memling Museum building, you have the choice to visiting either/all of the three museums viz. Groeninge, Brangwyn or Gruuthuse or reach the core of the Old city attractions, wherein the City Hall, Basilica of the Holy Blood and Old Recorders House are pretty close by. These places call for adequate time you spend in Bruges. Pretty closeby is the Guildhouse of the tanners which is also quite interesting.

Horse cart on the cobbled street - Transformation


Where Horses Drink !

And Horses Feed !

Bruges is Beautiful !

Ducks - Adding romanticism


Meanwhile retour from your trip to the statue of the Simon Stevin and visit the famous attraction Belfry.

Bruges - The best kept secret of Europe
In addition, there are 2 main shopping streets that houses several chocolate shops and a supermarket. You may visit on your way back from the train station. Interestingly, the small streets called 'Meersen' are worth visiting. Away from the tourists, they can really surprise you with their earthenness.
The small streets of Bruges are equally beautiful

Somewhere near the Museum

Earthen charm of  Bruges





Bruges is definitely different from Venice

City Hall of Bruges

City Hall of Bruges !

View from the City Hall
Apart from these attractions, there are few other side visits also possible.
Flags of Bruges - Flying High

Colourful building at the City Hall



Christmas decorations at Bruges

TIPS FOR VISITING BRUGES
  1. Please stay overnight at Bruges. Its morning charm is simply too good to be missed.
  2. Bruges can be easily reached from Brussels. You may check the belgian railways for the connections and their frequency.
  3. While in Bruges, the following side/day trips can be considered from Ghent, Ostend, Antwerp Rotterdam (Netherlands) and Lille (France). 
  4. As the connections among the Belgian cities is very good, even Brussels can be covered as a day trip. However, a day to Brussels would be injustice to things on offer there.
  5. Cycling within the city is often overrated. The cobbled streets on offer are not ideal for the bicycles.
  6. You simply should not miss the Belgian chocolates !
  7. Watch out for the horse carts, there are many of them on the road. Stay careful.
  8. A day trip during spring could be a ride to Zeebrugge beach on bicycle. It is good for Surfing.
  9. Accommodation, in general in the Old city is expensive. In fact I found Airbnb within the old city was also expensive. There are some Hotels and other properties across the canal, and yet quite close to the old city. These are cheaper are quite effective. PS: I stayed in a Hostel and found it quite easy to commute to the old city on feet.
  10. Shopping: Lace works was supposedly a popular artform. You find them everywhere are very highly priced.
  11. Public Transport: The old city is compact so there is no need for the Public transport as such. Most of the attractions are friendly for differently abled as is the case in most European cities.
  12. Food: Expensive at restaurants. But there are several options which are inexpensive and quite good. These includes the famous French fries (which are authentic Belgian!) and waffles. Some good vegan options are De Plaats and Reliva.
SOME USEFUL RESOURCES:
  1. Belgian railways:  http://www.belgianrail.be/en/ 
  2. A nice travel Guide : http://bruges.use-it.travel/ 
Near Bruges Train Station

No comments:

Post a Comment