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Bruges – Rustic and Charming

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With a gray sky overhead, my train pulled into Bruges on a cool Spring day. The train station teemed with kids on school excursions to somewhere, backpacks taking up as much space of the station as their bodies. And I had arrived in this special Belgian city where canal rides can be had and waffles eaten at 10am in the morning.

An hour by train from Brussels, it’s easily seen in a weekend stay, although it may catch your heart off guard with it’s cobbled streets and historical charm. The historically well kept city center is a UNESCO heritage site, which locals and tourists alike clearly cherish.

Crowds of tourist/Concert Hall square

Crowds of tourists/Concert Hall square

Bruges history dates back to the Gallo-Roman era in the 4th Century, although it wasn’t officially established as a city until July 1128. And it has never looked back changing hands between leaders and varying relationships between European countries, it is truly a place that screams it is comfortable in its own skin.

Wandering the streets it is a peaceful place, even as people go about their daily lives there is a calmness that evokes in all just to enjoy the scenery. The usual scrambling life of a city can almost not be found here. Even the night before the Chinese presidant was set to visit you would barely have known such formality was coming as locals sat outside a bar, chatting and laughing in the spring air, just feet from where the procession would take place hours later.

Entry to Begijnhof

Entry to Begijnhof

Bikes at the ready/Old Saint John over Zonnekemeers/Bruges building

Bikes at the ready/Old Saint John over Zonnekemeers/Architecture

Horse drawn carriage rides available/Bruges Museum

Horse drawn carriage rides available/Bruges Museum

Only 20,000 people live in the city center, making it easy to navigate and see everything Bruges has to offer in the span of a weekend visit. The city center is a simple walk only 10 minutes from the train station that can take you further on to the beach town of Ostend or on to another Belgian or European city.

If walking isn’t your thing, then you can take a boat ride down the canals or sit back and enjoy a horse drawn carriage ride.

Minnewaterpark Swans//Minnewaterpark

Minnewaterpark Swans/Begijnhof across the bridge/Minnewaterpark draped in gray

Window framing/Canal homes

Window framing/Canal homes

Minnewaterpark calm

Minnewaterpark calm

Traditional waffles, mussels and Belgian frites (fries) are on display all over town, so you can take your waffle or frites to go while wandering alongside the canals or sit down and enjoy the view. And don’t begin to ask how many chocolate shops line the streets, I couldn’t keep count.

Belgian waffles/Canals to walk alongside

Belgian waffles/Canals to walk alongside

Whether you go to Belgium for the waffles or for the scenery, a must stop on the itinerary is the compact historical gem of Bruges, you might even leave a piece of yourself there as has its soul proudly on display and its well worn heart held closely on its sleeve.

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Tips:

If you are traveling via Eurostar than purchasing the train to any Belgian station won’t cost much more than a standard ticket. This allows one train journey anywhere in the country, although train travel costs are minimal.

Traveling by train from Brussels to Belgium without a combined Eurostar ticket? Then here is the information on times and price.

If you are planning on seeing as many of the attractions as possible than a Bruge city card could save you money.

Canal tours are a popular way to see Bruge and are free with a city card or just €7.60.

The Church of our Lady is easily distinguishable amongst the city as it’s spire reaches far above the rooftops and is simply a 2 minute walk from the canal tours.

 

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