When will I stop underestimating this awesome country? In my two previous blog posts about our trip to Belgium, Brussels and Gent, we are slowly exploring city after city. And if you haven’t noticed yet, this blog post is about our visit to Bruges. From my research of Bruges, I read things like “romantic,” “a storybook town,” and “a must see.” And to recap my thoughts on the city (is it too soon to recap??) those terms for the city are spot on truths.
Rolling into this city via train, we are welcomed by a string of oh so charming horse and buggies. Walking down the cobbled streets we saw countless horse-drawn carriages. Their hooves echoed down the rows of charming building and up towards the steeples of the churches. It was this very sound that pointed us towards the entrances of these churches.
We were not strangers to walking up and down the aisles, sitting in pews for a moment of silence or gazing at relics and stained glass; we actually made a point to visit many, if not most, of the churches we saw during our days of traveling. But this particular one really delighted my heart. This church was called, “The Saint-Salvator Cathedral.” The inside was dressed in contrasting blacks and whites with looming and richly painted images of the life of Christ.
After our tour of the cathedral we made our way to the center of the city. The streets leading up to the center were filled with musicians, designer clothing stores, Christmas shops, locals walking their pets, flower shops and all the chocolate you could ever need. All of these options gave way to a feeling of energy in the area because of all of the hustle and bustle of those shopping, visiting and eating.
As we journeyed on we found Brugge’s city center with those iconic Belgium buildings in colors like crimson, lavender, sky blue, soft grays and warm, earthy browns. In the city center there is also a famous, looming and majestic Belfry town. On the day we visited the center was teaming with life.
The city was setting up for a marathon while tourists were getting their hands on Belgium waffles made right in front of you. Jacob and I had started getting into the rhythm of getting a treat for ourselves and finding a nearby stair to sit on while we talked about our trip and life together while watching those around us. Our treats for this day were the famous street fries loaded up with curry sauce for Jacob while I had my freshly made waffle with a smudge of Nutella on top and an Americano.
^^btw number one travel tip, traveling is its best whenever you do it with your best friend.
My most proud moment in all of our Belgium exploring was when I saw a pair of swans. Ok ok I know what you are thinking, swans are jerks! But hear me out on this one because I have always romanticized the idea of seeing swans…. in a canal… in Europe. And finally it was my moment because it was finally happening. We were walking away from the city center to find the canals when way down the street I saw two white dots sitting on the surface of a body of water. So naturally, I booked it!
I walked so fast that I even lost Jacob somewhere behind me to get closer to those beauties. And when I rounded the corner those swans brought me to an area straight out of a fairytale. There were cute bridges, more cobblestone roads, willow trees and now the swans. Honestly it quickly became a God moment to me.
I find myself expecting a certain life and doing everything in my power to plan it out so that I can achieve it. Not that it is wrong to see a goal and a dream and bee line to it, but sometimes things just happen and they end up taking you to places you never expected and places you would have missed if you hadn’t been derailed at some point. I think what I mean is finding a way to welcome those detours because I am just so utterly thankful for each detour. They have helped me to create this life of mine, the ability to travel and the idea of using this blog as a tool to share it all with you. So I want to say thank you for taking an interest and joining me on my journey.
Wandering further down the canals, the rain started to come down so we found an alley and decided to follow it to wherever it might lead. It took us to a cute residential area filled with ivy, rose bushes and a wishing well (cue my Snow White moment). But this direction also took us to one of the secret niches in the city.
This niche is the home of Bruges fairytale bridge. Made out of stone and tucked away behind a cathedral’s vineyards is the Bonifacius Bridge. Standing on the bridge gives you an intimate and romantic view of the city. Traveling tip to this location is to arrive early. Many tourists visiting the city seek out this bridge so during busy hours of the day it is hard to get some alone time in this area. Try to come early or around dinner hours.
We actually came across the bridge when there were a ton of tourists but because of the pouring rain, most scattered for cover. I took this moment to, naturally, claim the bridge as my own and to take a moment to let the day sink in.
Our last destination while in Bruges was to find the four windmills. These windmills are located on the far side of the old parts of Bruges. You can get there multiple ways by carriage, car or foot; but because we wanted the option to keep exploring as we went, we decided to go by foot.
With the use of google maps, we found the first two of the four windmills. Sitting nearly side by side these towering windmills felt like they continued the fairytale story for us. Each of the four were painted a different color from red, white, black and grey. Some we could access while the others were restricted for potential maintenance or security purposes. But regardless you could still get very close for better view of the windmills and a better view of the city.
With the coming of the evening we set off through the local park to make our way back to the train station. The walk took us by an old lookout tower, gave us a view of the resident life and brought us to a canal boat crossing that just so happened to be adorned by the setting sun. In was that moment that fully encompassed our day spent Bruges, Belgium.
Come back next week as I share our experiences at our last stop in Antwerp, Belgium! It’s a must read!