Candy and the Holy Blood
Brugge Travel Blog› entry 4 of 6 › view all entries
I just returned from my daytrip to Brugge yesterday evening and decided to write about it instantly.
*** Please excuse the crappy pictures. My real camera is still broke after the Japan trip and so I had to take pictures with this idiot phone of mine. The images turned out so bad that I set most of them to black and white to hide the horrible colours. Just imagine things to be a 100 times more pretty in real life, ok? Otherwise this is bad advertising for my country ;) ***
First of all I want to write that if you're a tourist visiting Belgium, especially if you come from outside Western Europe, don't let anyone tell you to skip Brugge. I know many people say this place has little charm, is overly touristy, way too crowded,.
Why not? Well, like most overly touristy places, it draws visitors for a reason. Yes, it might be little more than an open air museum filled with souvenir and chocolate shops but... it's still a very nice open air museum indeed. There are some really nice museums, the charming beguinage, wonderful churches, classic cobblestone streets and the architecture all around is just stunningly antique.
The center is mostly car free but that doesn't make it quiet. Instead of cars, the center is stuffed with tourists, horse drawn carriages (that carry tourists) and shops. I haven't been to any place in Belgium that has so many chocolatiers! Pretty much every brand is represented here, from the very mainstream ones like Leonidas (still very good, though), Galler (that also sells most of it's products in supermarkets) over more up market ones like Godiva and Neuhaus, to stand out classics such as Dominique Persoone. All those brand stores come hidden between local sellers, coffee houses and vendors of other delicatessen like nougat, speculoos, cookies and patisserie. Last but not least, there are plenty of other shops in Brugge. I really liked the branches of Dille and Kamile (housewares), L'Occitane en Provence (body and beauty products) and La Cure Gourmande (one of my favorite French confiseries that sells delicious cookies, candies and beautiful tin boxes (I have a bit of an addiction to buying retro tin boxes - and sweets for that matter)).
The two main shopping streets of Brugge depart at 't Zand and run all the way to the main square, but the touristy streets in the old center all have some nice things on offer, even though not for the cheapest prices.
Sightseeing-wise, for me (but I really didn't visit everything there is to see in Brugge), the Basilica of the holy blood and the Sint-Salvatorskathedral really stood out.
In the Sint-Salvator kathedraal (I don't know how to translate Saint "Salvator" to English) I loved the small museum (free!) because the visit takes you through some charming rooms around the cloister and the place has some really nice paintings on offer.
The Basilica of the Holy Blood is absolutely stunning, interior wise, and I loved the atmosphere. Moreover, you get the change to worship the Holy Blood relic (check the timings in advance). Regardless whether you believe in the New Testament, the relic or just in general, I found it a unique and even emotional experience. I can't believe it took me nearly 29 years to finally go and touch it! Especially since it's been on my to do list for so long.
Other places that I popped in were the Town hall (it's nice but maybe a little expensive, since you can visit only one room), the Onze Lieve Vrouw church (under construction at the time of writing (yay, that sounds SO Lonely Planet, I always wanted to use that phrase. It houses Michelangelo's Madonna and Child and a small collection of Flemish paintings but.
So to summarize: unless you want to see every painting in every museum in Brugge, make it a day trip.