Simply beautiful

Brugge Travel Blog

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If you travel for a long period - like say a three month wander through Europe - you tend to get to a point where pretty much everything is much the same. There's the odd highlight, but mostly you're like "OK, what's the currency, what's the language, how do you say thank you?". One of the great advantages of living in London for travelling is you can go and see places briefly, so you don't get this sort of burn out. You head off for a weekend, visit somewhere amazing, then head back to your normal life (though London itself is as much of an attraction as most other places). Fortunately for us, Brugge is one of the places we went to for a short trip.
We'd been planning to get there for as long as we'd been travelling together - so about 4 years by the time we made it. We just never seemed to get around to it, there was always somewhere a little more exotic, or something a little more immediate and exciting to do then trundle over there. With the bank holiday weekend in need of filling though, we thought we'd get ourselves together and go.
Simply to help us cover a little more ground than we would otherwise in a few days, we booked ourselves on a tour... of sorts. Tracks travel is a tour company that specialises in super-budget backpacking type trips. They arrange the hostel, they drive the bus, otherwise they pretty much leave you to your own devices, which suits us nicely.
The trip over was pretty uneventful, and the hostel largely unremarkable (the Europa Hostel I think it's called - it's OK, but a little out of the way to be honest). The hostel was just about the only thing in Brugge that was unremarkable.
The whole place is just stunning - coming from the vaguely sterile suburbia of London, to the cobblestoned slendour of the old town of Brugge was a bit of a contrast. The canals lacing their way through the city add something magical and the incredibely - given the number of tourists they get - helpful and friendly Belgians were always ready with a tip for something to see or directions if you wondered a little off your path. We'd been to Brussels before, and there was an immediate and obvious - though hard to define - difference between the Flemish Brugge, and the French speaking capital. They seriously could be in completely differenct countries - different view point, different way and pace of life.
We wondered a lot, saw the big bell tower thing, the little vial of Jesus' blood, and all the little streets around the old town. Our little tour group met up for a bit of a meal on the main square in the evening - it was OK, contrary to a lot of places where you pay well over the odds just to eat with a bunch of other tourists on the main square, the prices were not terrifically inflated, and there were indeed a number of Belgians at the tables around us. Food was reasonable as well - Cafe Belfort (that's the name of the big tower thing too, the Belfort, just remembered that) I think it was called. The frites, as ever, were to die for.

Afterwards we carried on to sample a few of the local brews. Here, to be truthful, we were a touch misled by the ever friendly tour guy James. On the street behind the cafe was a number of bars, one of which served an apparently famous "metre of beer". Belgium is well known for the quality and variety of it's beers, and with good reason. What was served in the metre of beer - which was a metre long plank of wood with about 8 holes drilled in it that had small beers in them, probably about 3 pints in total - was little better than, well, a warm VB. Probably worse. It was effectively undrinkable. Given the number and variety of bars in Brugge, even on that same street, this was something of a waste of time and effort.

Anyway, late on we wondered back to the hostel ready for the next day.
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photo by: Chokk