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Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Top 5 Amazing things to do in Bruges


Here's my top 5 things to do and see in Bruges over along weekend. We were there for two full days and crammed alot of things in so it can be done comfortably and most of all its just a stunning city to be in. 

5) The Markt and the Belfry: 
We visited on the morning of our first day as it was an obvious choice to do as it dominates the Markt square. We got into the queue around 10am and waited around 15 minutes to get in. I'd recommend going early as they only let 70 people up at a time and this is because as you get higher the stairs get smaller and thinner making it very difficult to navigate in groups. We left after around half an hour and the queue was already massive and the sign said it was up to an hour wait! 

As you travel up the tower (all the 366 steps!) you come across the different levels that showcase the towers history. One shows the history of the bells and the manufacture where others showed the structure of the building itself. I'll be honest you don't necessarily need to stop at these levels but you may be forced due due the mount of people coming up or down the cramped staircases in either direction. It's all worth it when you get to the top and if you time it well like we did you can even watch an amazing guy play the bells to all different tunes....sadly he doesn't take requests!

Night time :)
4) Brouwerij de Halve Maan (Brewery)

When we went the tour was a bit shorter than its meant to be due to the brewery expanding but it was still very fun. They take you all around the brewery and talk you through it's history and strong family roots. We had a very funny Dutch tour guide who was constantly jolly and was obviously in love with beer in all its varieties :) It's well worth the visit and you get FREE BEER!!!!!! 

3) Townhall (Stadhuis)
Of all the things I saw in Bruges this may have been my favourite. I am a huge fan of gothic style architecture and renaissance art which intertwined within this historic building. I'm not going to give too much away on this one but make sure if you go to Bruges do this!!!

2) Minnewater Lake
On our second (and last full day) in Bruges we decided to lose the map and just go for a walk. We stumbled across Minnewater lake and the surrounding parks and an immediate sense of calm and relaxation came over me. It was truly stunning in the glorious sunshine and you could walk or cycle around seeing all the beautiful swans and flowers along with a convent whose gardens were filled with daffodils. I was delighted to learn Minne in dutch means love so we had been walking around the 'Lake of Love' which is appropriate as this holiday was an anniversary celebration for us :)

1) Eat alot of chocolate!
Basically there are chocolate shops everywhere and it's handmade and hand designed on site. Any type, flavour or shape of chocolate you can think of they make... yes I said any shape ;) It's pretty mind blowing the things we saw!

If you are allergic to nuts I'd be a bit wary as practically everything is heavy on the praline as I nearly got caught out once :/ But if you let the shop owner know they literally go out of their way to make sure you have hundreds of nut free samples :) they have AMAZING customer service!!!! The number one thing for me was not only was it quality chocolate but I could easily get it packaged up to take home and its made some lovely gifts for the family. 

We did visit the chocolate museum (Choco story) on our second day and watched a chocolate making demonstration which was kind of interesting I guess but not amazingly enthralling. If you've ever been to Cadbury's in Birmingham it's pretty much just the Belgium version. 

Get lost!
My big piece of advice once you have got your bearings is to lose the map and GET LOST! The city is small enough that you will not get really stuck in the middle of no where as its very heavily signposted and feels extremely safe. We did this and discovered new places to eat and off the beaten track things to see which really made this trip for me. I am a real fan of architecture and by just wandering around aimlessly I got to see all the quirky buildings and roads without the guide of the written word. It was brilliant!

Im not big into cycling but if you are Bruges is a definite city for you to visit. Bikes are readily available and are used heavily by locals and visitors alike. 

Whether your visit be to delve into the historical, to go on a beer drinking marathon or on a romantic weekend Bruges definitely has something for everyone. Overall just have fun and give it a go!!!


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