Ever since I saw Colin Farrell’s movie “In Bruges” many years back and the Indian movie “PK” in 2014, the urge to visit this town has been growing and finally it happened this March.
There are several classic, picture-post-card towns in Europe – Hallstatt in Austria, Lauterbrunnen in Switzerland, Flam in Norway, Rothenburg and Nuremburg in Germany, Tallinn in Estonia and a few others but Bruges, Belgium stands apart!
For the travel savvy, Bruges needs no introduction…. with its tree-lined avenues, cobble-stone streets, arched bridges over meandering canals and well-preserved medieval buildings – it’s anything but a classic painting come alive. The once-thriving trade centre had gone to deep slumber with all its buildings and paraphernalia frozen in time for over four hundred years, only to wake up as a thriving tourist town in recent times.
If you are a lover of history, culture and architecture or an avid photographer, you will need a few days or even a week to experience this picture-perfect town. For people in a hurry, Bruges can also be done in a day. Just get hold of a detailed map available free at the Bruges train station. A suggested route with landmarks are clearly marked starting from 100 meters across the road from the station.
A leisurely walk along the tree-lined avenue introduces you to the quaint little Minnewaterpark pedestrian square on the waterfront with swans and ducks, canalside bars, cafes and chocolateries completing the picture. With more canals than roads, one of the best ways to see Bruges is to jump on a boat trip- there are atleast four stations where you can embark- for a quick tour of the town that meanders through century-old historic buildings, churches, waterfront hotels and restaurants, artistic bridges and baroque houses.
Walk along the cobbled, narrow streets and take in the classic architecture of the Church of Our Lady, Gruuthusemuseum and St. Johns Hospital. Have lunch at two-century old Gruuthusehof restaurant, preferably at the terrace (if you are lucky) for some great views.
The centre of Bruges is of course the Market Square aka Grote Markt, like most European towns. Buzzing with people both locals and visitors, the huge square is surrounded by century old town hall, Gothic buildings and merchants’ houses. A great place to people watch while enjoying a plate of waffles/churros/chocolates and coffee. Watch out for the classic, rebuilt horse-drawn carriages. They are pricey but if you fancy a ride get on it for a quick ride through the town.
Bruges is so pretty that you just can’t escape falling in love!!