Cold And Crowded Bruges

The Bruges part of my European trip did not start as I expected it. Cold and crowded, my first impression was going to be a different couple of days. But at the end, Bruges did stood up on its own and still managed to surprise me.

Having been charmed by Gent and having had a great weekend in Lille, I thought that the city of Bruges was going to have a hard time measuring up against these two.

I got to Bruges around noon by train, and damn was it cold!!!! I hadn’t felt that cold since I had left Canada!!! My 3 months in South America surely had something to do with it, but holy crap!

Walking towards my hostel I looked around and saw canals, medieval houses and churches, fries, chocolate and waffles…..”wait a second”, I thought to myself, “this is Gent all over again!!!”

Crowded Bruges

As it is now custom after checking into my hostel, I went around on my mandatory walking tour of the city (yes, it is mandatory). I think pretty much everyone does it, but for me it’s more a matter of placing the hostel within the city as otherwise I would get lost in no time…..I have zero sense of direction.

I roamed around senselessly into the city streets, hoping to get lost in the streets of Bruges hoping to find a hidden gem,
or a different viewpoint,
or at least a 1 Euro coin on the corner of some street…..
but it wasn’t to be.

The one thing I did find on all streets was CROWDS.

Waves and waves of people all over the streets. Every corner I turned in the historic center had SO. MANY. PEOPLE… was going to be impossible to get a decent shot of anything here!

And if it wasn’t people, it was horse carriages carrying people, so many of them. It’s just my opinion but riding on a carriage through the cobbled streets of Bruges cannot make for the smoothest of rides.

And then I remembered that it was the Monday after Easter weekend. This gave me an answer as to why Bruges was so particularly crowded that weekend! It didn’t make it any more fun, but at least I was more likely to meet other people.

Roaming Around

During the day I basically just roamed around the city hoping to find that hidden gem. Instead what I found was again more crowds, but the crowds were in some of the most beautiful places in Bruges.

The canals, the Markt of Bruges, and the Belfry tower (have you seen the movie “In Bruges” with Colin Farrell? Me neither, but apparently the Belfry of Bruges is one of the central locations of the movie). Bruges has some of the prettiest medieval architecture in all of Europe, and the best way to see it is on your two feet. Taking a car or taxi  or one of those city tour buses is, in my opinion, a waste of money. Bruges is quite a small city and can be easily visited by foot.

The Belfry of Bruges….it took me 15 minutes of wait to snap this almost deserted picture

While walking around the lake I made the amazing discovery of wind mills. I had never seen one in my entire life and now I got to see four! It is these unexpected finds that make travelling such an amazing experience each time.

As I said before the day was quite cold and windy so I had to snap these pretty quick at the risk of losing my fingers.

Beautiful windmills

I also stumbled upon this very pretty courtyard near the site where Pablo Picasso’s art is displayed (Site Oud Sint-Jan).

I found it to be one of the most picturesque places in town, and especially one where crowds were at a minimum.

Museum Day

My last day in Bruges would also happen to be my most enjoyable one, and one that would make me forget all the crowds I saw the day prior.

I am not one to hit museums, like, ever. I just cannot get myself to spend time in a place looking at a painting or a sculpture trying to look as if I understood what I was looking at (hello Vatican museum, I’m looking at you).

But for once, I actually enjoyed the museums I went to.

Bruges has some of the oddest museums I’ve heard of. 3 in particular caught my attention:

The Chocolate Museum: This was an interesting one. The Chocolate Museum offers some interesting information and a thorough look at the history of chocolate through time. There is also some chocolate “art” to look at and most importantly, free samples to taste.

The Fries Museum: I did not go to this one. I had heard mixed reviews on it and to be honest, I was trying to stay away from all the junk food I had since I stepped foot in Europe, and I was afraid of free samples and discounts that would “force” me to get a lod of fries for lunch.

The Museum of Torture: I plan on writing a whole article on this one, but Holy crap! there is some sick shit in this museum! This one not only has information, but also pictures and wax statues depicting some torture methods used through time… brief, some messed up stuff!

Beer Time

Belgium is known around the world for its beer craft, and Bruges has many places where you can taste (or more) of five hundred types of beers.

Places like these are spread across the city and are easy to find. They make very good break spots for a day of walking throughout the city, no matter how cold it is outside.

Where I Stayed

Bauhaus Hostel Bruges: This hostel in the outskirts of the historical center is the ideal place to stay. Free breakfast and meals at an extremely reasonable price are added bonuses for this comfortable place. The Bauhaus also has a full bar and 2-for-1 specials for guests.

Have you been to Bruges? What were your impressions of the city?

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