My relationship with Belgium is not clear yet (after 3-4 years of having left my solo life there). But one thing I always say: Charm is everywhere, especially in Bruges. The little medieval town which is actually the capital of the Flemish region- can make you fall in love instantly. Whether you call it Bruges (French) or Brugge (Dutch) its original name comes from Old Norse (here comes the linguistics freak) Bryggia which meant docks (it was very important economically thanks to its port), and lots of people call it the Venice of the North- due to its canals.
Although you can visit the fairy-tale city in just one day, it is always nice to spend some time getting lost around the narrow and cobbled streets. I used to go for a walk (it was 15min by train from my town) and it was always a good idea to relax a bit.
Apart from the picturesque buildings, markets, shops and museums Brugge offers, I felt like just walking around some days, others I took the bike and rode the surroundings of the city (choose a NON windy day please).
Yes the weather is a bit b*tchy in Belgium but you know where you are heading to, so just bring some warm clothes and enjoy hot drinks since Belgium is the country of chocolate :) (and beer but.. I wasn't really into that one). Personally it does not matter when to visit Brugge, I have stepped on that town thousands of times and I don't have a favourite season to go there, since it looks great in Autumn, Winter, Spring and Summer. Summer is great and you can enjoy drinks/food outside, Autumn brings the nicest colours on trees and floor, Spring brings the pink, yellow, white flowers around and yes the canals bright up with lovely watter lilies one always wants to capture and post on facebook/instagram feeling a bit Monet,and Winter you know...Christmas! I must say the city looks extremely magical at Christmas... the atmosphere is something you have to experience!
Travel Guides are useful and in Bruges case, a lovely collection of pictures, so I recommend buying one and you get all the necessary information and great pictures of the city. That being said, I'm not going to give recommendations on where to eat, sleep, what to visit... but instead I always find history really really interesting once I meet a new city:
The medieval city was surrounded by water, and the 1st count of Flanders built a castle to protect Brugge from the Vikings. Brugge eventually grew up and lived thanks to trade through its canals. The city grew wealthy thanks to good trade with England and France, and eventually of course political tension made an outbreak after guildsmen refused to pay new taxes. Revolts here and there (to summarize the known Brugse Metten). On May 18 the guildsmen crept into town and murdered anyone who wouldn't correctly pronounce "schid en vriend" (shield and friend). This revolt led to a Flemish victory against the French 6 weeks after the Batte of the Golden Spurs. They had little independence because the French soon came back to take control.
In the 14thC became part of a powerful association of norther Eurpoean trading cities. Italian cities such as Genoa
(wanna visit it? read my last post
built trade houses there.
Bruges continued growing and started to gain a name thanks to its artists too (known as the Flemish Primitives).
Then Antwerp took the popularity when it comes to trade, and Bruges kinda fell short for commerce after the Waterloo battle in Brussels. People got curious about Bruges thanks to the writer Georges Rodenbach and started visiting the city, which means spending money there. So basically Bruges never stopped making money!
For those of you who have visited Brugge, what did you think of the city?
I wish I had Bruge closer to my hometown... it always makes me want to go for an evening walk :)