“In the market-place of Bruges stands the belfry old and brown; Thrice consumed and thrice rebuilded, still it watches o’er the town.” ~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 1845

We learned about Bruges as we were looking into day tours for our upcoming trip to Amsterdam. Bruges is one of Belgium's best preserved medieval cities. Its picturesque canals, cobbled streets, and historic buildings landed its city center on the UNESCO World Heritage List. It even served as the setting for the movie In Bruges with Colin Farrell. This fairy tale town sounded like just our thing. We ultimately decided a day trip from Amsterdam was a little too much for us (transit time is 6 hours round trip), so we changed our itinerary and booked a short stay.

Destination: Bruges | Belgium | Europe

Traveled: April 2014

Strategy: We had two days to play tourists in this scenic, medieval city.

Accommodation: Hotel Albert 1

Adventures: canal boat ride, Groeningemuseum, Gruuthusemuseum, Church of Our Lady (Michelangelo's Madonna and Child), Markt Square, Belfry Tower, Burg Square, Basilica of the Holy Blood, The Frietmuseum, De Halve Maan Brewery guided tour, Expo Picasso, Dali Expo-Gallery, Begijnhof, Minnewater Park

Memorable Moments:
 1) Climbing the 366 narrow steps to the top of the Belfry Tower. We can't count the number of times we silently cursed when we met someone going the opposite direction. But that view! It was something else. 2) Seeing Bruges by boat. It offers a different perspective of the city.

Takeaways: 1) Bruges is full of tourists during the day. 2) Most museums are closed on Mondays. 3) There's something about Bruges that attracts swans... lots of swans. 4) Michelangelo's Madonna and Child is much smaller than expected. 5) The beer foam head actually has an important function. Don't expect the bartender to top off the beer.

Foodstuff: We developed an addiction to frites (fries) while in Bruges. These fries are served straight from the fryer with a big glob of mayonnaise on top. Great as a side dish or snack. Heck, we even had them as our lunch one day. So good! Also, frites with mussels was a popular dish here.

In Bruges, we discovered bitterballen, a deep-fried, breadcrumb-coated ball of meat broth, which is actually a Dutch specialty. This dish wasn't our favorite, but it's much better when covered with spicy mustard.

And we have to mention the beer, each served in its own special glass. We will forever be beer snobs after our trip to Belgium. We disagreed on our favorites (him, tripels. her, Hoegaarden and La Chouffe), but they all deserved a tasting. Note the alcohol content ranged from 5%-10% ABV.

Restaurant Picks:

De Hobbit (try the ribs a volonte)
Kemelstraat 8

Fast food::

Chip and Ice (good frites, free wifi)
Katelijnestraat 7


Huisbrouwerij De Halve Maan
Walplein 26

Recommendations: 1) Stay overnight and visit midweek, if possible. The swarms of tourists are worse on weekends. 2) Check out the Brugge City Card. Visit enough attractions, and it will save you money on admissions. 3) Visit the tourist information office by the Concertgebouw (Concert Hall) for free wifi. 4) Save coins for public bathroom visits. It costs €0,50 to use the facilities.


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