While we were staying in Amsterdam, Christina and I took a quick day trip to Bruges, Belgium. It was about a 4 hour train ride past the rolling hills and windmills of the Netherlands. If anyone has seen the movie In Bruges, the will understand why we wanted to go there rather than Brussels. The small city is absolutely picturesque. It was like someone took the prettiest canal in Amsterdam and multiplied it. I liked it much more than Amsterdam. It was relaxed and people were very friendly.
We walked from the train station to the center of town, past houses and buildings built over canals. We started our day at De Halve Maan (The Half Moon) Brewery, the only local brewery left in Bruges. Instead of being a warehouse-like building with many rooms next to each other, this brewery was built in a few different tall buildings with the rooms stacked on top of one another. The giant silver cylinders typical of a brewery sat on a few different roofs. We were able to hike up to the roof and view the city down below. Afterwards, we had a free tasting of their unfiltered Zot (Joker) beer, something that is only available on tap at the brewery. It was absolutely delicious.
De Halve Maan Brewery
After grabbing a quick bite to eat, we made our way toward the main square, passing one of the oldest hospitals in Europe, from 1188. We didn’t get to see inside but the statue outside featured a woman with a snake wrapped around a cross. The main square, Markt, was bustling with tourists and people setting up Christmas decorations. The Belfort, a large belltower that was featured in the movie, rises as one of the tallest buildings in Bruges. In the next square over, Burg, we saw the gothic Town Hall, decorated with sculptures and paintings of former mayors. Next to Town Hall is the Basilica of Holy Blood. Supposedly they have a vial of Christ’s blood on display. Unfortunately, we arrived 10 minutes after the church had closed. I wasn’t too heartbroken of course.
Christina at the Belfort
We continued to wander around the city without much of a schedule. Though the Christmas markets weren’t up yet, the shops were busy with people buying lace and wooden shoes, typical of Belgium. We did run into the famous Beer Wall, a literal wall of every kind of beer ever manufactured in Belgium, including the beer glass. There were over 780 bottles of beer on the wall, 780 bottles of beer. I wanted to take one down and pass it around, but I’m sure it would be flat.
After dinner, we of course stopped and got Belgian chocolate – how could that be missed? The truffles were delicious, but my favorite was the orange peel dipped in chocolate and anything marzipan of course. Stuffed, we headed back on to the train station and back to Amsterdam to finish out the weekend.
I bought the entire store.
Bruges was just beautiful. It seemed like a really great place to live since it was not too crowded with tourists but it still had a life to it. I would love to go back for longer!