One lesson that I have become familiar with while travelling is to be flexible. Plans until they happen, are not set in stone and have the potential to change. The friend I was going to explore Brussels with end up not being available today. So instead of wasting a day waiting I decided to take the train to see Bruges.
The city of Bruges is located around 100km north-west of Brussels. By train, it takes just over one hour and costs around €13.60 each way. However, today being a weekend I was able to take advantage of a weekend ticket saving almost 50%, for €14.40 return.
On The Train
The train is the perfect way to travel here, besides being cost-effective, it is also very comfortable. Although it might be a different case during the week, there were not many people on the train. While enjoying the beautiful countryside passing by, I had the opportunity to also get some writing done.
One of the towns we passed that I think would be great to visit in the future was Ghent. The below picture is from the train as we arrived at the Ghent Train Station.
Arriving In Bruges
I had a chance to work out a sort of plan to see Bruges, thanks to some maps I discovered. The map is created by a group called Use-It and they have made some youth-focused maps for a number of Belgium cities. You can find some more information on their website at www.use-it.be. I think they day would have still been great without the map, but it definitely allowed me to plan ahead and find my way.
Getting Into Bruges
I set out along the canal that almost completely encircles Bruges. A winding path along the beautiful green riverbank is a great start to seeing any city I think. Even the lightly drizzling rain was not going to hold me back, from enjoying the city here.
One of the last things I spotted before heading into the city itself was a number of windmills. Originally Bruges had a total of 25 windmills, but now just four remain. One of these is in its original location, while two are open to the public as small museums. However, only at the right time of year, and I believe they are still operationally intact.
Bruges The City
To some people, Bruges is known as the Venice of Belgium, although I might not go that far myself. There are a number of canals that break the city of Bruges into a number of small islands, which I guess inspires this idea. The biggest difference in the canals here though is very few boats, except for the occasional tour boat. It does allow for some very nice photo opportunities.
Like many cities in Europe Bruges does not seem to be short on churches. There is a number located near the city centre, each one just a little bigger than the last. One main difference I have noticed around Bruges is many churches are built from brick, rather than stone. It does create an interesting contrast and a different look and feel.
Market Square in Bruges is something quite different to some of the other squares I have visited around Europe. In other areas, they seem to be simple squares with a few cafes. Market Square is somewhat similar but it is overlooked by an 83-meter high belfry. It is possible to climb to the top via 365 stairs, but I will leave that for another day.
So we have all heard the rumour that Belgian Chocolate is quite good. So it was hardly possible to pass by the opportunity to try some true local chocolate. I found a small shop on my way back to the train station and grabbed some to try on the train. I must agree that the chocolate is quite good. But I have been told the locals tend to just buy from the supermarket that is just as good.
Back to Brussels
The return train journey to Brussels was just as good as the trip to Bruges this morning. It was not a bad way to relax after walking around all day.
I had planned to see a little more of Brussels this afternoon. However, it seems the rain had chosen to set in a bit heavier than this morning. Making it rather uncomfortable to be walking around in the rain.