The EuroTrip Diaries: The Magic That Is Bruges
When ‘travelling’ is your number one hobby, it can be really exciting and amazing as it leads you to some incredible places around the world and gives you unforgettable experiences and memories, especially if you travel to Europe. When you’re out and about in the world and everything’s going smoothly, there’s no better feeling. However, it can also be incredibly frustrating when you find yourself unable to travel due to other commitments like work or lack of money to fund your travel addiction. I often found myself stuck in my full time job, with not much spare time and not a lot of spare cash to go anywhere exciting. Well, that’s what I thought anyway. It was because of this belief that I started looking for different destinations to visit. I needed something cheap, somewhere close by – but still in a different country, and somewhere that would satisfy my travel craving over just a few days.
Bruges, BelgiumIt was about 11pm on a Wednesday night and I had 5 days off, as did my best friend. Me being me, I really wanted to go away somewhere for a few days without spending big bucks. We hadn’t planned or arranged anything, as both of us being off at the same time was a last minute thing. We started looking at a possible vacation in France, Paris of course, Amsterdam and Brussels. Paris was too expensive, so that was knocked off the list straight away. Amsterdam was less expensive, but I’d already been there several times and wanted to see something new. I’d never really looked at, or thought about going to Brussels, so this was quite interesting. After spending an hour or so looking, I decided it would still cost a bit more than what we were looking to spend, so decided to call it a night. That was when something clicked in my head and made me think about a film I’d watch recently called ‘In Bruges’.
Bruges is also in Belgium, about an hour away on the train from Brussels. I checked the ferries for the following morning from Dover to Calais and found one – early morning – for just a few pounds for the two of us and my car. I then started looking at hotels and got excited when I found one called Leonardo Hotel Brugge – a 3* hotel located a 10 minute drive away from Bruges centre. It was around £50 for 2 nights for 2 people, which brought the total for the ferry and hotel to about £30 each. Bargain! I booked both and quickly packed my bag, before going to sleep for about 4 hours.
The next day after a long drive from Blackpool to Dover, we boarded the ferry with my car – which was a first. Everything was really easy and it only took about an hour to reach Calais. Another hour and a half later and we found ourselves in Bruges. We checked in to the hotel, which was really nice, which for the price was a pleasant surprise, and helped ourselves to a well deserved/well needed local beer called Brugse Zot (which is actually one of my favourite beers, and if you do go to Bruges, then you need to try it!). We then jumped in a taxi which took us to Bruges Centre. All I can say is wow! It was beautiful. Full of cobbled streets, medieval buildings and canals – it looked a lot like Amsterdam, minus the whole coffee shop and tourist scene. There’s a beautiful medieval bell tower right in the centre of town called Belfry of Bruges which was built around 1240. You can actually go to the top of it for an entrance fee, which unfortunately we decided not to do. The town is full of history and has several museums and galleries to visit, along with a plenty of chocolate shops that make the chocolates right there in front of you (and give you free samples!). There weren’t many tourists around, which was a nice change. In the evening when it got dark, the whole town lit up with lanterns and old street lights. There is a row of beautiful restaurants and coffee shops in the centre looking out at the Belfry, which sets a perfect scene for a lovely evening meal or drink. If you go just outside the town centre you will find plenty of nightclubs and bars, which attracts a lot of local university students. There is also a range of shops that offer anything from your big name brands, to local hand made gifts and souvenirs.
Over the 3 days we were there, we visited the local parks, museums and markets, but mainly spent our time wondering the streets, just taking in the incredible scenes. The architecture really is beautiful. I have been to Bruges twice now, the first was in June and the second was early September. The second time I visited it was a lot quieter, with many shops and restaurants closed, however, each time I still managed to leave with plenty of chocolate and a few bottles of Brugse Zot in my backpack!