when in Bruges and Ghent

AAnyone ever seen the movie, In Bruges? I haven’t. But when we were in Belgium we watched the trailer and it made me sad (and it made me laugh) because they didn’t like it! They compare it to hell. (A few Harry Potter actors are in it too, so it’s something to watch at some point…) And although I disagree with their overall opinion, I’ll give them this: Bruges does not seem real, and it does give that small town, slightly stuffy feeling. But, in my opinion – as an American who (very!) rarely sees places such as Bruges, it is a fantastic place to visit. And again to be fair, we were finished with just about everything we could have possibly seen and done in Bruges by the time we left just hours after our arrival.

We left for Bruges a bit early, as we had decided to visit Bruges and Ghent in the same day. Our reasoning for this was twofold: we assumed that we would want another full day in Brussels, and we realized that the train tickets were not quite as cheap as we had originally thought (though not super expensive either – look up the prices before making a decision!) so to save ourselves another two tickets, we departed from Brussels, took a train to Bruges, took a train to Ghent, then back to Brussels. We were definitely tired when we arrived back to our hotel, but it turned out to be a good idea because we loved our second day in Brussels and saw everything we had wanted to see in the smaller cities.

Our greatest decision in all of this was to leave early. Tour buses tend to arrive in these cute little towns in the late morning, so when we arrived we got great photos and experienced it without having to push through crowds. (Seriously; Bruges is so tiny that tour buses full of people will fill it up! Not fun.) So we ate breakfast at That’s Toast (Dweersstraat 4, 8000 Brugge, Belgium) and loved it! There were other guests, but we were seated right away. (These photos were taken around 8:20am, so we were up quite early to catch the 1.25 hour train from Brussels!)

As with so many cities, walking was a favorite pastime here. We made a quick stop at the square…


admired the streets…img_3343

…and took our canal tour! This was definitely a highlight of our entire trip.

We were the last two people on board this tour, and therefore got the leftover, front-of-the-boat seats. I quickly realized these were the best seats, especially as I had my camera out. Take the front, first seat – it’s the best one! Only person in my photo is this handsome tour guide, and that’s just because I put him there! 🙂
These tours are absolutely amazing. I teared up at one point when we went around the bend and saw the view. With the sun beating down on us, the view, and the promise of more new pieces of Belgium to see the rest of the day, this canal tour was incredible.

After the canal tour, we walked around again (it’s pretty fun to walk the canal path on the land for a slightly different view). There is a church – Jeruzalemkerk – that was inspired by the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. We toured the church – 8 Euros per person, and stopped at their Honesty Lounge for some coffee and a snack when we felt a bit tired from our early morning. It’s a beautiful place to visit, and the perfect rest stop.

Not sure what was up with my photo taking skills here, but I’ll blame it on having been tired… but Jeruzalemkerk is absolutely worth a visit.

We also had a ton of fun at a windmill! There are four in Bruges, but we took a beautiful walk to just one of them. When we arrived, we climbed a steep staircase but were rewarded with a fantastic view.

Did some more walking…

One of my favorite streets! Not the greatest of photos here – we had a tough time finding places to put our camera for photos – but you can see the style from these shots. Gorgeous! (I will say though, by the end of 3.5 weeks in Europe, so many streets were looking like this. They’re absolutely beautiful, but not as unique as I felt they were at the start of the trip.)


We ended our time in Bruges in a bar – Cafe’ Rose Red (Cordoeaniersstraat 16, 8000 Brugge, Belgium). We drank outside, but the inside was absolutely beautiful – red roses hanging from the entire ceiling. Outside was lovely as well; we enjoyed these two Belgians:


And that was the end of our time in Bruges. We headed towards the train station between 1 and 2pm, ready for our next adventure – Ghent!

Ghent was a bit further from the train station than we had hoped. We were super hot, and tired, and the walk wasn’t super picturesque. But once we arrived we had planned to eat Belgian waffles, so the promise of that goodness was enough to keep us going! We ate the waffles at MAX – where they apparently serve the original Belgian Waffle. We ate outside, which was fantastic because we had our waffles and drinks, accompanied by a lovely view of the square.

Again, I am not sure what was hindering my photography skills here, but that is the umbrella above our table in the photo on the right – and if I had turned my camera 45 degrees, you would see that the entire square was before us. But you get the gist of the Belgian Waffle, which is what is important.

After eating our delicious waffle, we headed to St. Bavo’s Cathedral to see the Adoration of the Mystic Lamb. This is an altarpiece, and for a small price visitors can listen to an audiotour-like explanation about the history of the altarpiece. A beautiful thing to do – we enjoyed it very much.

And we enjoyed graffitistrattje:


After our waffles, graffiti, and time at the Cathedral, our energies were all spent. We stopped for some candy:


and left back to Brussels. A perfect (and exhausting!) day…

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