Before Christmas 2016 myself and a friend visited Belgium, travelling to Bruges. This trip was intended to be a welcomed break for the both of us, her having started a full-time graduate job and me doing a full time MA program.
In terms of logistics we got the train from St Pancras in London to Brussels, and then changed there to get to Bruges. The whole process was very straight forward and hassle free and something I would 100% recommend to anyone planning on visiting Belgium. The trains are far more spacious than the ones in England and the countryside views between Brussels and Bruges are beautiful. I find people often underestimate the enjoyable nature of travel by train, but its something I plan to incorporate into more trips.
When we first arrived in Bruges we walked from the station to the main square in order to have a proper explore before we checked in to our AirBNB room (which was located around 7 minutes from said square). Featured below is a very Bruges photo. The whole are was very Christmassy and beautiful, although if you are looking for something similar to the German markets this is NOT on that kind of scale – it is far quieter, but still lovely.
Whilst in Bruges, the first museum we visited was the Torture Museum – with a name like this I wasn’t sure what exactly I was expected, but was pleasantly surprised. The museum itself is small and does charge a fee (they do student discount though and the man on the desk gave me said discount, even though I had left my card in England, when I told him I was a museum studies student). The museum showed methods of torture throughout history, but there was little sensationalism surrounding this – which is something you often get in these types of exhibit due to the public craving for shock and gore. The museum also discussed the history and development of human rights and also tracked the decline in capital punishment and the legality of torture. I really enjoyed my trip to this museum, although when going be aware that it is small and will probably not take longer than an hour and a half to visit. (Below is a photo I took on my visit).
Whilst in Bruges we also climbed the Belfry – the view from the top is definitely worth the walk (and the entrance fee) and you get to discover some interesting history surround the tower as you climb. The stairs do get very narrow the higher you climb. Featured below is a photo I took upon reaching the top of the Belfry.
My friend and I also visited the Dali exhibition in the Markt Square in Bruges. This exhibition was filled with Dali’s art and also had a fantastic audio guide available which provides interpretation and history for each of the pieces on display. There are also videos, sculptures and seats throughout the space.
Finally, just a brief note on food. As a vegetarian I was slightly concerned about finding food to eat in Bruges that didn’t involve me living on chips and waffles for a weekend. The first night we managed to get in to eat at The Olive Tree – a Greek restaurant just off the Markt Square. The food here was amazing and I would highly recommend a visit for people who have differing dietary requirements. On our second day we ate lunch at Jilles Beer and Burgers and again the food served here is fantastic, they offer both meat and veggie burgers and have a wide range of beers which can be expertly paired together. We also visited Joey’s Bar (if you google Joey’s bar Bruges it will come up) on the recommendation of a friend. This bar had a great, local atmosphere and the bartender provided us with some wonderful drinks recommendations.
Overall a trip to Bruges was a wonderful idea and I fully intend on visiting at a different time of year to see what else they have on offer.. I hear you can cycle out to smaller villages and really explore the countryside. I would also love to be able to visit the museums I didn’t have time to get to this time round and perhaps partake in a walking tour.