Next stop on my twelve-day vacation throughout Europe is none other than the beautiful country of Belgium! 🙂
Now, since I had stayed a couple of nights in three different cities there (Bruges, Ghent, and Brussels), there would be too much to cover in only one post, let alone three separate ones, so I will break each of the cities visited into one or two parts, depending on how much I had covered in the time I was there at those places.
Today, I present you Bruges, a small quaint city on the Dutch side of Belgium, famous for being the setting of the 2008 film In Bruges, starring Colin Farrell and Ralph Fiennes. Besides that, the city is also known for its bustling markt (“market square”) where tourists flock to see the Belfry, the colorful stair-roof buildings, and the numerous boutiques, restaurants, and of course, Belgian chocolate shops. Can you say…Godiva?! 😉
…as well as delicious (albeit overpriced) Belgian waffles!
In any case, I had arrived in Bruges in the early afternoon, after having taken the train from Lille first to Brussels, then a correspondence to Bruges (not the most straightforward trajectory, but nevertheless got there smoothly). Checked into my hostel, dropped off my bags, and decided to go explore the city for the afternoon. Passed by this lovely canal along the way:
Walked over to Burg and Markt Square, which also dazzled me with their architecture:
…also a lovely, clear day (which is a rarity at this time of year!) to see the Belfry of Bruges:
After wandering around for about an hour-and-a-half, I decided to go back to my hostel and relax before meeting up with another American teaching assistant from France that night; we had made arrangements to meet up and travel together in Belgium, since we both wanted to see the same places. Went to my room, where I met an Australian guy who had the top bunk of our bunk bed. Pleasant guy, and we ended up getting drinks that night at the hostel’s bar. The teaching assistant (let’s call her “Christy”) met up with us as well, and we had some beers and Coca-Cola while shooting the breeze and whatnot. Later headed out at 10 pm to Markt Square to get some Belgian fries, which are a huge thing in the country (the age-old dispute: are they from France or Belgium? We’ll never know…). Any case, they were tasty, although nothing mind-blowing about them. Goes well with mayo, too! 😛
We decided to call it a night close to midnight, and headed back to our hostel. Showered, freshened up, and went to sleep. Woke up the next day, had breakfast, and spent the day in Bruges with the Australian guy and Christy again. Just walked around town, taking in the beauty of it all, as well as getting take-away pasta to eat by the canal:
Visited a couple of religious sites (’cause it’s Europe, of course), including Saint-Salvator’s Cathedral and the Basilica of the Holy Blood, the latter that is thought to contain the Blood of Christ (interesting…). In the afternoon, Christy and I bid goodbye to the Australian guy, who was heading off to Ghent and Brussels a day early. Afterwards, the two of us decided to take a canal tour around the city- again, quite overpriced, but not bad of a tour:
Forty-five minutes later, the canal tour ended and, feeling quite tired from the walking done that day, Christy and I decided to return to our respective hostels to rest. Was super exhausted all of a sudden when I got back, and ended up staying in for the rest of the night. Had a few beers again, and wrote about my travels so far in my journal.
The following morning was our last day in Bruges: we had already seen the things that we wanted to see there (again, not a huge city), so we just headed straight over to the train station to purchase our tickets for the train to Ghent, our next destination.
Overall, Bruges was a lovely city; the architecture was just fantastic, chocolate shops were everywhere, and the locals were so nice. I can’t stress how warm and friendly they were: even though the city (as well as Ghent) basically only spoke Dutch (and so I couldn’t use my French, anyway), the Belgian’s English was very good, and didn’t seem to mind speaking it with us (probably because they are used to getting so many tourists every day). Sounds bad, but I think the Belgians are nicer than the French. At least, when it comes to greeting and communicating with people.
Bruges set the bar high for the rest of my trip around Europe, but has since been broken again and again with each city that I visited after that! More to come tomorrow; stay tuned! 🙂
— The Finicky Cynic
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