Brugge Travel Blog

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Friday 18th September

We headed to Brussels Midi the local train station and purchased a Go travel pass! This worked for ten journeys anywhere in the country for only 50 Euros. This proved a godsend in travelling round the country. A 50 min journey and we were there. We arrived in the city and used our map to find the town square the Burg. Bruges is like a mini Venice with small canals running through all areas of the centre. The square was beautiful even more so than Brussels I would say. Tourist sites here were a steal at 1 Euro for all the museums combined for under 26’s. We used this ticket and headed to the giant church. The chapel of the Holy Blood is actually a double chapel which can be visited on the 'Burg' square in Bruges. It was first constructed in the 12th century and promoted to the rank of Basilica in 1923. Legend has it that after the Crucifixion, Joseph of Arimathea wiped blood from the body of Christ and preserved the cloth. The relic remained in the Holy Land until the Second Crusade, when the King of Jerusalem Baldwin III gave it to his brother-in-law, Count of Flanders Diederik van de Elzas. The count arrived with it in Bruges on April 7, 1150 and placed it in a chapel he had built. We were lucky enough to catch the beginning of the daily mass to the relic, and got to see all the priests lining up and praying to the vial.

We headed on to the town hall which doubled as the museum of Bruges telling the history of the town over the centuries. Bruges Town Hall, built between 1376 and 1420 is one of the oldest in the Low Countries. A ceremonial staircase leads from the entrance hall to the first floor, where visitors can view the Gothic Chamber. This former council chamber continues to play an important part in the life of the city. The wooden, polychrome ceiling is decorated with a profusion of late-mediaeval carving. The murals illustrating Bruges' glorious past were added during the chamber's restoration in the late 19th century. This proved hungry work and we indulged ourselves in our first major treat. We found a small waffle stand and loaded up on sugar, crème, strawberries and chocolate sauce, they well and truly lived up to their reputation.

After a tasty snack we walked on to the Ghent gate one of four city gates preserved from the medieval period. It now houses a museum of education. Another opportunity to indulge in photos and we were off doing a lap of the city boundaries taking in the atmosphere of the city. It was a glorious day of sunshine and whilst following the map was tricky enjoying the medieval feel of the streets was a delight.

After 40 mins of idle strolling we found the fries museum known locally as Frietmuseum. Together with chocolate fries is most characteristic of Belgian culinary history. Story has it that Americans on seeing French speaking Belgian soldiers eating cut up potatoes or fries’ deemed them French Fries. You learn on the history of the potato dating back to 10,000 years ago and their use in Chile and Peru until the Spanish brought them back to Europe 500 years ago thus forming a key component of the European diet. Belgium eats more fries per head than any nation of earth and the chips here were delightful, we indulged in the double fried (Belgian style) chips dosed in salt and some sauce. It was getting late and so we took a walk past the square again and then decided before the sunset we should indulge in a beer tour ‘De Halve Maan’ the half moon brewery.. This proved fascinating, the Belgians offer 750 brands of beer ranging from lager to stout to fruit flavours such as banana and cherry. Sadly this is the last surviving brewery in the town. In 1900 there were 400 for a town of 40,000. Best was to come last where the top of the brewer offered inspiring views over the city. Finally we enjoyed our free beer an ice cold Straffe Hendrik. One key note of Belgians is not only do they love their beer but they like it strong, 6% is routinely laughed at, they also maximize its health benefits. My kind of people.

Before heading home we took in the The Beguinage. This is a group of houses around a little garden covered with large poplar trees. It was here that during the last seven centuries lived the beguines of Bruges. In 1937 the beguinage became a monastery for the Benedictine sisters who still live here now. We got to the station and train was a swift 50 mins back to the capital. That night we grabbed a cheap pasta and Bolognese courtesy of a small café near the square. We decided to call it an early night so we could ready bright and early to explore other areas of Belgium. We shared a waffle back in Brussels and again took in an early for another hectic day.
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1,033 km (642 miles) traveled
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photo by: Chokk