City of Bikes and Venice of the North: Brugge, Belgium
This is a delayed article about my time in Europe in September. I visited the city of Brugge, Belgium and had a blast. I’d definitely plan on visiting again! One of the nice things about Brugge is how close it is to Brussels. It is about a 45 minute drive. So you’re not going to waste much time getting to the city.
My Belgian friend told me there’s a lot of bicycles in the city and I had this before about Brugge. Even so, I was surprised to see the massive number of bicycles parked at the central train station. Being someone who appreciates biking as both a hobby and fitness routine, I immediately knew this city was extremely bicycle friendly. I could also see the evidence of this in the designated bicycle lanes and paths. It reminded me of other bicycle friendly cities like Minneapolis or Portland.
It was about a 10 minute walk from the train station to the heart of Brugge. This is the place where you could see why Brugge might be called the “Venice of the North” because of the waterways and canals! The heart of the city was littered with shops offering Belgian lace or Belgian cholcolates, another specialty of the country, for sale. My friend advised me that it was better to just buy chocolates at the grocery store – as they were practically the same thing and quality, and cheaper, but he also understood if I bought something in Brugge as well.
As we walked around the city, I noticed people taking horse drawn carriage rides or boat tours of the waterways. The horse carriages are something you want to watch out for if you’re biking or walking in the streets, but its pretty obvious when they are coming as you can hear the “clop clop clop” of the horses. I was sitting outside of Quick, the Belgian version of McDonalds, and noticed the line for the horse drawn carriages was pretty long. It’s probably best if you show up early or have a good bit of patience. Both the boat or horse carriage seem like good ways to see the city, although if I wasn’t walking, I would have rented a bicycle.
One of the coolest things that I stumbled upon in Brugge was a store which advertised having a “wall of beer”. Of course I had to see this wall of beer and take a walk around the store. The store specialized in Belgian beer and selling different gift packs. It also had its own bar which you could buy a wide variety of the beer. One of the cool things I found about Belgian beers is that each beer has its own glass. I enjoyed walking around looking at the different beers and glasses and eventually decided to buy the glass for the beer called “Kwak” because of the unique wooden handle. I also found the wall of beer right outside the bar.
Even though I only spent about half a day in Brugge, I really enjoyed my time there walking around and people watching. For those that want to take in the more touristy activities, Brugge has that. For those that want to relax, people watch, and enjoy a slower pace of life, Brugge is a good place to hang out for awhile.
My photos of Brugge and Brussels may be viewed here.