Tuesday, November 22, 2011

An Afternoon in Bruges

V and I on the boat tour!

  Two Sundays ago, my friend V and I ventured 70 kilometers east to the Belgian city of Bruges. I thought I had previously been there years earlier, but was mistaken.

  This was going to be my first visit to one of the 'Venices of the North', as it is commonly referred to, and I was excited.

  For me, it's always great to get out and have a change of scenery. It's easy to get stuck in the day-to-day routine of: practice, practice, practice, practice, game; that you forget to enjoy where you are, and see the different sights and cities that are nearby. So going to Bruges was an opportunity to do just that!

  We left a beautiful, sunny day in Dunkerque, so we were hopeful that we would also have nice weather in Bruges. But as we approached the city, a heavy layer of fog hung over us. It was going to be a cold, dreary day! But we weren't about to let that hold us back. We would just need a few more stops for some hot chocolate and coffee, that's all!

City Center.
  Usually this is all I do when I go to a new city for the first time: walk, eat, walk some more, then eat some more. And this trip was really no different.

  By the time we got to Bruges, found a place to park, and walked to the city center, it was time for some lunch! We kept our eyes peeled for a cute little 'tea room'. Someplace we could have a nice, inexpensive lunch, along with some coffee.

  After winding through much of the city, we finally found our spot -- Mamma & Co! I had an awesome focaccia, and a quiche with spinach, ham, and cheese. I had to save a little room for dessert because as you might know, Belgian chocolate is some of the best in the world.

'The Venice of the North'
   The Bruges city center still has much of it's medieval architecture in tact, along with the city wall that surrounds the historical center.

  As of 2000, the city center has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site. I've said it many times before, but my favorite thing to do it just walk through places like this. I'm not necessarily a museum-goer, so I like to enjoy city on foot, and take in the vibe from the people and the buildings.

  We did decide to do one touristy thing while we were in Bruges, we went on a boat tour! With all those canals, how could we not! The great thing about the boat tour was that is was a way to see a lot of the city, and also get a little bit of information about its history (if we listened close enough to our guide). I took a short video along the way, and was careful not to drop my phone in the water (though that was a tough task, given how cold my hands got)! Enjoy:

  One thing you immediately notice about Bruges is the number of chocolateries you find in the city. They're more common than Starbucks in Seattle. Walking past the shops with their open doors, you just had to close your eyes and smell.

  The aroma coming from each chocolate shop was incredible. I wish there was a way to record the scent so you all could experience it. I tried two different truffles (one mocha and one coconut flavored), and they were both amazing. They melted in your mouth. Definitely the best tasting chocolate I've ever had.

You should smell the chocolatey goodness!
The most-amazing truffles ever!

   Another thing Bruges (and Belgium) is known for is their beer. Sadly (for you beer drinkers of the world), I don't enjoy the taste of beer. So you can't rely on me to be your Belgian beer critic (chocolates, yes; coffee, yes; candy, yes, beer, no!).

The wall of beer.
  One last bit of information about Bruges, is that the Friet Museum is located there as well. That's right, the french fry museum! You see, french fries did not originate in France, but in Belgium! So to get the whole story about how fries came to be, you can check out the Friet Museum in Bruges.

Grote Markt.
  The day in Bruges was a great one. Wonderful food, coffee, chocolate, sights, and company. It was a much-needed break for me from my day-to-day routine in Dunkerque. And what an awesome way for me to re-charge the batteries. I can say I'm pretty lucky to have that as an option!

  Hopefully that trip to Bruges was not my last. I definitely hope to go back in the Spring when the weather is clear. There were some things we simply couldn't see because of the fog. Only next time, we'll tour the city via Segway, or
horse and carriage.

  Anyone else been to Bruges? Tell me about your visit!

More pictures from Bruges...

Streets of Bruges.
Typical architecture of the north -- with the stair-step roof -- along with the year built.
Mmmm cupcakes.
Foccacia from Mamma & Co.
City Center with Belfort behind.


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