Bridges, beers and Bruges

A long over due update. In September I and my fabulous sister jumped on a Eurostar (well jumped on a coach, then a Euroostar, then another train) to visit Bruges (we then went on to Brussels).

Bruges is picture-postcard pretty. All those perfect looking towns on chocolate boxes? That’s Bruges.

We stayed in a teeny, tiny, well-placed and very inexpensive two-star hotel on the edge of the historic centre and spent an evening and the next day site-seeing. I have to confess the whole trip reminded me of my epic European adventure of 2007 and gave me seriously itchy feet (but when have I not got itchy feet?)

It was the height of mussel season – which meant as well as delicious Belgium beers our first evening was spent eating a kilo each of the fattest, juiciest mussels I have ever seen. They filled every single crevice and cranny of their shells and were delicious. Perfect seaside grub.

The next day was sight-seeing madness day. We started early (after a great continental breakfast) we climbed the bell tower (all 366 steps!) the best place to see the city, and learn about the carillon (the giant mechanical music box which chimes the bells for which the city is famous). We bought a combined museum ticket, which also allowed us to wander freely through our next stop – the Stadhuis (the old town hall) bedecked with fabulous pre-raphelite / art noveau designs.

We wandered about and onto a barge to travel the city (and see the sights) via canal. Described as the Venice of the north Bruges is rather well endowed in the canal department – there are over 80 bridges over the canal and river network which runs through and around the historic centre. After a lunch, which involved Belgian waffles we spent a merry afternoon ambling alng the streets and in and out of museums and the Sint-Salvator cathedral. The mix of medieval and neo-gothic style combined with Flemish architecture is a sight to behold. We also concluded that the castle (Grandhuis… but it was effectively a fairytale castle) may have helped inspire Victorian neo-gothic romantic architecture back in sunny south Wales – certainly the Grandhuis and the frescos in the Stadhuis were very reminiscent of Castell Coch and Cardiff Castle.

Any way, enough rambling – they say a picture paints a thousand words – so here are some snap shots from our trip to Bruges: