July 3 & 4, 2012
To me, arriving in Bruges was bittersweet: Sweet because we had nice accommodations with reservations and a little bit sad because arriving here indicated the last leg of our 2012 M3 Euro-delivery experience.
After the driving fiasco in Prague, we decided to park outside of town at the train station and take the bus into town. While the bus was a little smelly and hot, the parking was cheap (€3.5/day) and the car made it fine with no dings (whew)! This was definitely the right choice because the streets of Bruges, are 1-way filled with horses, motorbikes, bikes, buses, horses, and mobs of slow-walking people, all of whom think they own the roads!
Several things struck me about Bruges: Tea rooms serve beer and everyone, yes, everyone–young to old–drinks “tea” from breakfast to late in the evening. That’s right. The only person I saw drink tea was a very loud, heavy-set American woman who was in our hotel.
Everyone else, Bier.
After all, it’s humid and one needs to hydrate, right? While the city is touristy, it’s pretty easy to get off the main areas and find some quiet sites. The city is surprisingly clean and also vibrant with local markets. Both days of our visit, it rained in the afternoon, which made for interesting walking tours or must-do stops for in the tea rooms!
Even the ‘cheaper’ chocolates were so delicious…and you have to eat it fast due to the warm weather.
Bikes and flowers are a way of life and it made me feel like there was more to this city than just a tourist trap (although it certainly is full of tourists).
Horse and buggies were super-fast for the city pedestrian traffic….it seemed like the horses took priority over any other road traffic! Be warned: move quick when you hear the clip-clop of the hooves!
In this square, there are four different types of architecture. This is an example of Gothic style, which seemed to be the primary style around town.
The canals seem to be only for tourists now, and although they are probably still contaminated (which is why the brew industry started here originally), swans and ducks thrive in these waters.
Only about 2 blocks from the main tourist areas (Markt), we found quiet residential areas that were clean and (seemed) safe. Unlike Prague, where graffiti littered every wall, Bruges was clearly well-loved.