Clip clop clip clop. The sounds of horse drawn carts greets us as we walk out of our hotel onto the wet cobblestones of Bruges. I’ve used the Izi.travel app to create something of a route for us to walk today. It looks like there’s something to see at every turn.
We start our exploration in the Market Square with it’s gorgeous architecture. The shape of the shop fronts is emphasised by the bright colours. Its particularly stunning given the grey skies and freezing cold air. The only thing missing is snow.
We wander the square. There’s bicycles parked everywhere and some are particularly funky. Clearly this is a funky town. The Christmas Markets are already in full swing with ice skating, shops selling warm clothes and Christmas decorations, and of course Belgian waffles and hot chocolate. I love this part of winter in Europe. We came across it last year in Krakow too.
Our walk takes us past some incredible gothic architecture. Like this building in Jan van Eyckplein (Jan van Eyck Square). I can see why cousins were so insistent we visit Bruges . There’s not a dull corner or square to be found here. It’s all immensely impressive.
We walk down small steets near the outer edges of the old city. Buildings that look like old farm houses sit here marking times gone past. The windows typically have stained glass panes and brightly painted shutters. The Folk Arts Museum is located in this area. It’s well worth the visit with each room representing a different aspect of life in Medieval and 18th Century Bruges. I am particularly fascinatd to learn that the smoking of cigarettes was introduced to Europe after Columbus’s journeys to the Americas. The guy who first introduced smoking to Europe was jailed for seven years as a witch. Unfortunately for society after his release smoking took off and has been killing people ever since.
Kruispoort (Cross Gate) marks the entry to the old city.
We’re hungry now so go in search of lunch. Unfortunately, the Brugians take ater the French and kitchens close at 2pm. It’s about -1’C but there’s nothing else for it but to have a picnic. Paul is less impressed than me as we sit on a park bench under trees with icicles hanging from their branches. Fortunately, the windmills make a pretty background.
We almost have to walk just to stay warm. Even though we’re well dressed, this is weather for sitting by a warm fire. The cold and mist does add atmosphere to the architecture though. Especially the Harry Potter-esque guild building. And the brightly painted “modern” residences, which reflect beautifully on the still canal water. We are still not used to the near-perpetual sunset effects of the light with the sun sitting so low in the sky. I think this is part of what I like about winter in Europe – the colours brought on by this low sun.
All that’s left to do to end our walk is to indulge in a fresh Belgian waffle with melted Belgian chocolate. We warm up in our hotel room revelling in the taste of our first Belgian chocolates bought right here in Bruges before hitting the streets for a wintery evening walk in the chill air.
Tomorrow promises more Bruges beauty.