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Travel to Bruges

Read the full Italian blogpost here: http://www.untoccodizenzero.it/index.php/guida-golosa-di-utdz/travel-to-bruges/

My first time in Bruges. It seems like painted lace, a tiny city suspended between the canals, called Brugge from Old German brugj, a strange word, meaning ‘landing-stage’. In Spanish for instance, Bruges is written as Brujas, meaning ‘witch’. And in fact the city does have the air of a place visited by witches.  I can imagine them, tall, beautiful and bold witches strolling through the alleys alongside the canals in winter, the city buried deep in snow.

In the thirteenth century, Bruges became the leading trading centre for the whole of North West Europe. The very first stock exchange in the world was opened here, conducting operations in front of the inn owned by the Van der Buerse family, which acted as the broker, so its name still remains associated with the financial institution.  This is where the famous Flemish painters began their work. The name Jan Van Eyck should be familiar to you.

 

 Bruges © Sandra Salerno

Bruges is beautiful in a cheeky kind of way, but it is also mysterious and intriguing. Like many other cities of Europe, its history can be breathed in just by walking through its alleyways.

It is a perfect place for a trip between spring and summer, when the air is balmy and the city is green. Bruges in autumn and winter is also a rich and fascinating place: with snow and the varied colours of the leaves on the trees. The pubs are warm and welcoming after a walk through the city centre. Settle down to sip a tasty beer, eating carbonade, beside a crackling fire, admiring the canals outside.

Bruges is the perfect weekend destination; its human scale and compactness mean that a couple of days are enough to get to know it. 

So, having found a place to stay in the city centre (hotel or B&B), you can wander round peacefully on foot, or rent a bicycle to explore the more hidden corners of the city and the canals.  Anyone who doesn’t want to pedal can always hire an electric bike :).

 

 Windmills | Bruges © Sandra Salerno

Transport

Train + bus or a short taxi ride from the hotel to the station and vice versa.

For bicycle hire, Bruges Bike Rental
For those interested, tours of Flanders by bike[N1]  are organised, with some dates planned for 2018.

Where to stay

 

Hotel Jan Brito | Bruges © Sandra Salerno

 

Breakfast @ Jan Brito Hotel Bruges

For our stay, the tourist agency booked us into the Hotel Jan Brito, super central but also in a very quiet area. A hotel with something of a faded atmosphere, with lace, velvet and Gobelin[N2]  tapestry panels, recalling olden days.

 

B & B Bonifacius Bruges

 

B & B Bonifacius Bruges

If you prefer a B&B, here are a couple of names which caught my attention: B&B Bonifacius, enviably located on the canals, with breathtaking views, or the modern La Suite Sans Cravate (spin off from the Sans Cravate, 1 * Michelin star) managed by the wife of the chef Henk Van Oudenhove.

The Sans Cravate B & B La Suite. | Bruges © Sandra Salerno

 

© photo maisons d'hôtes

 

Where to eat

Bistro Bruut, fascinating bistro, with views over the canals.

Cantine Copine, relaxed atmosphere, sound cooking by the chef Karen Keygnaert.
Tête Pressée restaurant + gastronomy, chef Pieter Lonneville.

Sadly, I didn’t manage to eat the famous moules+frites, so I think I will have to go back! I did drink some beer, however :). And then chocolate, chocolate and beer.

Lunch in the breweryHalve Maan: I recommend having burger+beer. You can’t go wrong. Before or after lunch, take a tour of the brewery (paid visit).

 

Hamburger- Brewery Halve Maan | Bruges

BEERS: if you plan to travel by air, I recommend you buy some beers at the airport. If you’re driving, however, give free rein to your impulses for gastronomic shopping.

There are opportunities for beer-tasting in Bruges (with various producers and types of beer), an original Beer experience. It’s up to you what you try, but I promise you won’t be disappointed.

 

Cafune Coffee @ Bruges

 

Cafune | Bruges

Coffee

Our morning coffee came from CAFUNE, seated comfortably on stools, glancing at the passers-by in the street. Choice of single-origin and blends from almost all over the world.

 

Madonna and Child, Michelangelo | Bruges

Cultural

Don’t miss seeing Michelangelo’s Madonna and Child (1504) in the Church of Our Lady.
Up to 31/12/2017 you can admire over 400 works by Picasso, and until 5 November 2017 a further 100 models by Leonardo Da Vinci. Not to mention the  Flemish Primitives[N3]  at the Civic Museum.
The Museum of Chocolate, for those with a sweet tooth, and Historium, the interactive mediaeval museum, an original attraction for all ages, transporting visitors back in time to the Middle Ages with multi-lingual audio guides.
Picasso Expo Center

 

 Markt | Bruges | © Sandra Salerno

Right in the main square, is the beautiful Markt, and a visit to the Belfry is worth the effort (get in training before you go, you have to climb a lot of steps, 366 to be precise!!).

Tour

If you’re looking for organised tours, so that you don’t have to worry about anything very much, Quasimodo Tours offers various options. For instance, The best of BelgiumFlemish mediaeval history + chocolate, waffles & beer. Not a bad programme!

The Visit Flanders website gives you all the info you need to organise your trip down to the smallest detail, if you’d rather design your ideal itinerary yourself.

 

Boats

Before you leave, don’t forget to take a ride on one of the boats which tour the canals: truly romantic way to explore the city from a different perspective and find places it would be impossible to see on foot.   

 

 

*Thanks to Laboratorio Lavgon for the travel outfits*