“What the f*ck is in Bruges?” Colin Farrell once asked in a movie shot completely inside the small city centre, of which has only 138.40 cubic kilometres of space.
So, when I saw that flights over to Bruges were on sale my reaction was not far from our Irish friend, Mr Farrell’s. But when he said it, it was more a statement than a question. So I wondered to my self while cramped on the plane the budget airline supplied, ‘what is actually in Bruges?”
An hour after my arrival my predilection of the city fell apart. Its beauty made an instant impression. The architecture, cobbled streets and mirror still canals kept me and my camera busy.
We were lucky to have arrived during autumn. Even though it was cold (although it never rained) we were treated to a vibrant display of colours.
The city is the biggest in the West Flanders region, you could easily walk around the centre in a day; but to fully appreciate the tiny city, it’s best to spend three days there.
Once the sights have been given their justice and you have filled a few memory cards full of images, head into any of the pubs and begin making your way through every one of the hundreds of craft beers they have on offer.
I guarantee that you could spend a week in Bruges and never drink the same beer twice if you so wished not to do so. From alcohol free to a a pretty macho 12%, it’s like Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, but for (current and potential) alcoholics.
Make sure to ask the bar-tenders about the local breweries as most will have an encyclopaedic knowledge of them and it is a quick way of getting to know some history of the city. The best story of which is about the Trappist beers that are brewed in 12 Tapestries: six are in Belgium and the rest are scattered around Europe and one is even in America; so plenty to sample from those six alone.
A few touristy things to do over there must include climbing the Belfort tour. It is around 1000 steps but the view from the top is amazing. We went just as the sun had gone down and the city became engulfed in this blue haze (there is very little light pollution in this city as you can see).
The city has a walking/running/cycle track around the outskirts of it, so renting out a pair of bikes and heading off for a cycle is a quick and sure way to make sure you see everything. We happened across a café called Hermanus which happened to be in it’s infant stage, having only opened a few months previous. Nearly two years later I looked them up to see they have expanded their business and online presence. Their influence in the Bruges motorcycle community is obvious and impressive . Check out their Facebook page and definitely pop in for a coffee.
Bruges has a lot of antique shops that are great to look in, with some being quite reasonable prices if you are so inclined. I nearly walked out with a €200 brass panther but my wallet convinced me otherwise.
Another must, is the canal tours which are a great way of seeing the city from another perspective. Being below street level and getting into look nooks of the city will show you places you will then cycle to later for a beer.
Bruges offers a cultural experience unlike other cities where chains and franchises choke out indigenous experiences. Its scenery, tastes and attractions are what makes it such a special place. For a city, it has the tranquil qualities you’d expect to find in a village centre, but instead you get it in an historical centre of Europe. It really does have a fairytale feel to it.