Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Bruges, A Medieval Town In Belgium

Hello Everyone. 

I'm back at my blogging desk once again after dealing with some medical issues and very glad to be back traveling and sharing it with you.  The California saga will continue in a while, but today I shall tell you about our recent trip to Bruges in Belgium.

We traveled from St. Pancras Station, London by Eurostar to Brussels and from there by local train to Bruges.

This medieval town was untouched during both World Wars.  The buildings date from the 13th-15th centuries when Bruges was a center for the cloth trade.  The houses line the narrow cobbled streets that are perfect for wandering, window shopping and stopping for coffee or beer at an outdoor café.  The beers are fantastic.  I especially like the cassis or black currant beer and on a rather hot afternoon I had a pineapple beer that was like drinking ambrosia.  Scott's favorite was Bruges Zot brewed by the only brewery right in Bruges. The De Halve Maan  brewery has tours through the brewery, even up on the roof to see the town and where they cooled the beer in the old days.   You'll get a token for a sample too.
Laces of amazing intricacy and fine quality and tapestries are still made in Belgium.  They are such wonderful examples of artistry and unique mementos of this trip.

The Market Square,
as you can see is the center of activity with buses and carriages skirting half the perimeter.  The Government Palace and Post Office buildings are on one side and the statue of Jan Breidel and Pieter de Coninck, both involved in securing independence from France for the Low Counties. 

The square is dominated by the Belfort with its octagonal belfry and carillon singing out to the town every quarter hour.  17th century houses with main floor restaurants line the other two sides of the square.  Although the fixed prices are somewhat higher than those away from the center, the atmosphere and charm of the square at night is worth the extra.

We found our stay very relaxing because there were few vehicles, many people were walking and the clip-clop of horses hoofs when the carriages passed was charming.  A tour of the town was 36 Euros and a great way to see the sights.  One of our favorites was the park and buildings the Minnewater.  The horses are watered and rested here, so we walked across the bridge to the park and the Begijnhof that was the home of lay sisters  founded in 1245. 

The atmosphere was peaceful - quite delightful.  The lake and adjacent canal is populated by ducks and apparently the swans have been here since 1448. 

The highlight of our visit was the canal boat tour.  When you go to Bruges don't miss it.  Seeing a town from the water always gives a different and yet interesting perspective. 

Our guide spoke in 4 languages: German, French, English and Flemish for the  members of the tour.  Most Belgians speak these languages and Dutch as well.  Here is a short video so you can come along in the boat with us to enjoy the ride.

The tour gives a good view of the buildings and sights particular to Bruges. 

In Northeast Bruges
St John's Hospital Building

By the Way When you go to Brussels make sure you have a .50 Euro coin with you because that is the cost of using the washroom at Midi Station.

1 comment:

  1. Fascinating! I'm so glad Bruges was untouched by the Wars. The architecture and layout of the Market Square look like a medieval fairy tale setting. And thanks for the video - lovely to ride along with you! By the way, keep blogging!