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A fairy tale you don’t want to end

Blog by Volodymyr Rudov-Tsymbalist – Ukraine – student at College of Europe – writer, painter, photographer and traveler 

Thinking of my first week in Bruges, I realized that this is a city to discover as a couple. Walking on the cobbled streets, breathing the aromas of coffee, freshly baked waffles, listening to the cello of a lonely artist, having dinner in a restaurant - all these emotions are elevated to a higher level in the company of someone you love. These streets, the architecture, ivy covering the houses with its colorful leaves, … all these little and big things create a unique atmosphere of coziness, comfort and warmth. It makes you want to get lost in time and just drown in the city. 

That’s why, when my lover appeared at the station that night, I was happy as a child. Night, not a soul around, rain drizzling,… but it created such a gorgeous atmosphere. Everything was filled with deep feelings.: how my girlfriend looked at me, how we held hands while seeing new buildings appear after every corner, how she hugged me, how we both looked at the Church of Our Lady and many many more impressive buildings! And there we were - standing at the border of the town at night, with the whole city at our feet.

Cutting through the darkness of the night and enjoying the emptiness of the streets, we slowly entered the Albertpark, next to the station. No people, no drunkards (hello Ukraine),… We were almost alone in this city and ready to get lost in it. The park opened its narrow paths, the soft light of the lamps caused little bits of mystery, hiding in the darkness of the night. Embracing her, kissing her and forgetting about everything, with the dark of the park as an ideal companion. We forgot where we were and why. The Albertpark smoothly shuffled into Minnewater park (also called ‘the Lake of Love’) with a mark of a lonely tower (Poertoren or ‘ammunition dump’) and then into the city itself.

 

You can enter the city from so many sides, but my personal recommendation is to choose the Katelijnestraat, and walk to the Church of Our Lady. With its 115,5 meter high brick tower it is the tallest building in the city. A beautiful and monumental Gothic style building and an incredible beacon at night. While the city is slowly covered by the fog, the path goes along the small canal of Dijver with its swans that slide through the watery surface. From Dijver turn left to Wollestraat and walk to the main square – the Markt. And there it is: the unforgettable bell tower. Even at night, the Belfry of Bruges is lighted as a monumental and truly magnificent piece of art. Sharp edges, small ornaments, and a touch of romance in the air. And there you are again: drowning in emotions for each other, provoked by the city. Feel the warmth between you and the city become an amazing cradle for your relationship.
But please, don’t let your discovery stop here! There’s much more to see in the city. Bruges, in spite of the prominence of the Markt square, has a lot more places to offer, each of them no less romantic.

 

Continue your way to the north, through the drizzling rain and haze of the night, to the City Theatre (Stadsschouwburg). From there, choose right and walk to the Jan Van Eyck square, surrounded by the facades of the Old Tollhouse, Pijndershuis and Burghers’s Lodge. Or continue your way along the canal to the north-west where you can watch a replica of an old wooden port crane from the terrace of Bistro Du Phare. Stroll along the green ramparts for a look at the windmills. The mills, the lights, the fog, … make up for an unforgettable experience of the ancient city. A breathtaking, spine chilling experience. Nighttime means magic in Bruges, it gives you a very personal, familiar and fragile feeling.

I've been to many cities. Many were beautiful and charming - I do not argue. But here in Bruges - it's magic, especially at night. Nighttime is absolutely different from daytime, when crowds of tourists often fill the streets. Where smells mix into something extraordinary. Where technology meets history and you’ll see a horse coach passing right behind a brand new Porsche. Where three buildings standing next to each other have three different styles: gothic, classic and baroque. So many adventures to live in such a small town. But the main impression is best translated by my girlfriend: "It’s like you’re in some classic fairytale, being read to you as a child, and you do not want this book to end. Ever.”