On this particular day, our second full day to be in Belgium, with Phil being in the Netherlands with his family, Daniel, Ketan and I decided to take a day trip to Bruges, which lies about 50 minutes west of Brussels via train. We left Brussels around 10 a.m. arriving in Bruges around 11:00. Train rides are always a resting and relaxing time for us. We use it to catch up on this blog, to write down our experiences in our journals, get a little sleep we may have missed out on the night before, or just to reflect on the cities we have seen and the many things we have done. They are very much needed and we use them for our benefit completely! No wasted time here!
Anyway, on to the city of Bruges. Bruges is one of the oldest cities in Europe, and was once a safe haven for royalty and famous artists and entertainers. The city was designed mostly for the pedestrian, not so much for the car. The old brick buildings lining both sides of a narrow street, a street where one cannot tell the difference between the road and the sidewalk because they are both the same material and there is no curb separating them. People are free to walk either on the sidewalk or just walk in the middle of the road if they wish. Vehicles are too seldom to cause any problems. The old cobblestone streets, enamored with the sounds of people walking and talking and the clicking of horse-drawn buggies, are a vital entity in the cities outward appeal and major attraction technique. Visitors are not just coming to the city to view one particular thing, but to actually just walk around and experience this old and beautiful city.
Here are a few images and a video just to give you all an idea of what I am talking about:
Video: Courtyard IM
We started off the day just walking around and getting a feel for the streets. We then starting visiting a few of the well-known tourists attractions we had read about in Daniel's travel book. We walked through an old monastery that still has a number of nuns living and working in this compound. They live in a square, with a maintained flower savanna located in the center of it. We were asked to remain quiet while we walked through this area, so it was evident this place was still highly revered. After the monastery, we went and viewed a vile full of what was said to be the blood of Jesus Christ. We all agreed that it seemed a little fishy when we actually saw it, not knowing if it was real or if the church was pulling a scam, but it was still interesting and inspiring all at the same time. After visiting "The Holy Blood," we climbed to the top of the city's tallest tower.
Video: Market Square IM
The tower stood 366' into the air and gave us a full panorama view of the entire city, and it was absolutely beautiful. Walking around the city, you only get a slight glimpse of the beauty of Bruges, but it wasn't until we climbed to the top of that tower and looked down on the buildings and streets that we really understood how gorgeous this city was. I'll just let some pictures do the talking for me.
See what I mean??? After descending from the tower, which was both an interesting walk up and an even more interesting walk down, due to the tight corridor and the number of people trying to get both up and down, we rented bikes and decided to ride around in the city for the last couple of hours we were there. I swear it is amazing how easily you can see a city when on a bike, especially in Europe because every city is so bicycle friendly. We rode the bikes to the outskirts of the city where we came across a few windmills and the statue of the "The Most Beautiful Woman in Belgium."
We returned our bikes after a couple of hours riding around Bruges, and decided to hop back on the train, only after we experienced a true Belgian waffle in Belgium!
We got back to Brussels around 8:00 that night, where we met back up with Phil. We all made our way back to the Delirium City for a couple of drinking in our last night in Brussels. We returned to the hostel around 11:00 p.m. and fell asleep because we knew it was going to be a rough next few days in Paris.
Loving every minute of it!!