Bruges… you…. stallion! Just saying your name makes me blush. You are, quite literally, on fire – really though, I am so burnt. Thanks for the pink triangle across my chest and all the added freckles. No hard feelings though, my complexion laps up the rays, I’ll be golden brown in no time…
On a serious note though, (don’t think my love isn't serious), Bruges is like a fairytale - a very accessible fairytale, only an hour away from both Lille and Calais. In my opinion, it’s the new Paris. I know it’s a bold statement, but it’s a bold place. Forget writing your name on a lock and attaching it to a bridge, although it’s rather sweet, why not take a horse drawn carriage around Bruges or visit the lake of love instead. And for those not on a romantic getaway, why not check out the cities many medieval haunts whilst sipping the local specialty, raspberry beer.
Top 5 Tips
1. I lost my Segway virginity and it was marvellous. What a fantastic way to venture through the cobbled high streets on a rather unique mode of transport. If this sounds too adventurous I would suggest renting a bike to really explore all the nooks and crannies Bruges has to offer.
Meet 'Tour Mob' AKA Mads and I. Don’t mess with us. We've got high vis vests.
2. Visit De Republiek - the perfect watering hole. Grab a glass of vino or an iced coffee, head to the courtyard and soak up the sun in a deckchair or get up and play some ping pong. Although they’re currently not serving food they state in bold: ‘Kitchen Coming Soon’, so for now I shall wait in anticipation- let me know if you go please!
3. This is an obvious one but we are talking about Belgium, sooo… I beg of you, eat chocolate, in slabs, on waffles, in beer, or all three! They produce over 172,000 tonnes of chocolate a year, so I think it’s safe to say they know what they’re doing. The waffles are a real sugary delight, so you should also add ‘slagroom’, (translation: whipped cream) for the added touch, and maybe some strawberries… oh, and a little chocolate too. ‘A moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips’ is a rubbish saying anyway…
4. Get yourself on one of the tourist boats - there are many. Yes its cliché but at €8 for 30 minutes it’s one of the cheaper attractions going. It’s also the best way to get up close and personal with the gorgeous canal houses.
5. For those wanting to escape the crowds, opt for climbing the windmills. They’re a 15 minute walk away from town centre and offer sky views of Bruges without the cost. If you have even a hint of vertigo, abort this mission immediately!
“In Flanders fields the poppies blow, between the crosses, row on row that mark our place” (John McCrae, 1915).
Having studied this poem back in school, I felt I shouldn't miss the opportunity to visit some of the war memorial sites in the nearby area – there are many. Personally, I thought the most insightful was Zonnebeke’s memorial museum, Passchendaele. With its 20ft reconstructed dugouts and trenches, it offers a real perspective to what life must have been like back then. A real unmissable factor is the 5th Australian Division Memorial, situated in the middle of the forest. It is the most spectacularly peaceful and well-kept memorial I have ever seen. It’s difficult not to get emotional seeing names of soldiers younger than myself lose their life.
No car to get there? No problem here’s a snapperoo for ya.
For my foodie readers, some words of wisdom…
Vist De Fonduetafel! It’s a whole restaurant dedicated to fondue - meat, cheese, chocolate, the works -need I say more? My second little gem is De Wijngaert, (translation:The Vineyard), set in what looks like someone’s front room. Everything is cooked on an open grill next to the front door, so get all nosey and watch your food cooking before your eyes.
If you ignore everything else, please remember to reserve a table at your restaurant of choice. Pre warning, water in restaurants is daylight robbery, (6-8 euro a pop). I’d advise staying hydrated or having a liquid breakfast, lunch and dinner.
So, the truth is out… my love affair with Bruges has only just begun. You may have my saucy secret, but B, you have my heart. I’ll be back soon, but for now we shall have to do this long distance thing. Remember distance makes the heart grow fonder!
Missing you already,
p.s. Brussels, I’m sorry I didn’t get to meet you this trip, I look forward to a future rendezvous.