Our three-night stay in Amsterdam was followed by one night in Bruges. When we first started planning the trip, Bruges wasn’t on the agenda – we were going to go straight from Amsterdam to Paris for a six-night stay. However, the more I thought about it, the more I realized I wanted to make a stopover in Bruges if possible. Although I didn’t know much about it, what I had seen and heard of it made it seem like a worthwhile detour. Luckily, we were able to cut a night off of our Paris apartment to slide a one-night stay in Bruges into our itinerary. I’m very glad we did!
We arrived in Bruges after a few hours of train travel (and a few train changes as it turned out the train agent we talked to in Amsterdam was wrong about the number of changes we would need to make) and were delighted to find that our hotel was located literally steps from the station – so convenient! The hotel was nothing to write home about – small room and a less-than-stellar wifi connection, but it was clean, had a nice shower, and was really inexpensive, so it was a good choice for us. If you’re looking for comfort and opulence, Ibis hotels are never the places to stay, but if you just need a place to sleep and shower for a night or two in Bruges, I’d recommend it!
Since we arrived around 3p and had to catch a train at 11a the next morning, we knew our time would be limited. I had to get to Belfort and really wanted to get to the Basilica of the Holy Blood and Scott found a great-looking chocolate museum, so we made it our mission to get those things done. Based on closing times, we went to Belfort first – it was worth rushing a bit to get there (not to mention climbing 366 steps to get to the top!). Although it looks like it could be part of a church, Belfort is actually a municipal building originally built to house city documents. If you go to Bruges, you MUST visit the Belfort! Yes, it’s a lot of stairs to climb, but there are a couple of landings you can use to walk around and catch your breath. And I don’t know many other places you can go for a view like that, especially in clear weather.
After the success of Belfort, we were looking forward to seeing more of Bruges, but alas, the museum and church weren’t meant to be. Although we got to the museum 40 minutes before closing time, they had already stopped selling tickets. So then we tried the church, but that one was also closed (we couldn’t even go in). There was a lot of construction happening around the building, so I’m thinking that’s why it wasn’t open because it should have been based on the info I found online. Another great travel trip – always try to check information like that (opening/closing times, admission fees, etc.) immediately before you visit an attraction so you’re aware of any changes. In the face of two strikes, we went for a guaranteed win – food! We stopped by a shop to get Belgian waffles, which were delicious! After that, we decided to do a canal cruise, much like the one we did in Amsterdam. It was a nice way to learn more about the city and kill some time before dinner. I wouldn’t say the canal cruise is a must-do because there’s just one canal around Bruges, so it’s not nearly as extensive as an Amsterdam cruise, but it’s worth it if you need to kill some time.
Dinner was at Cambrinus, a place that seemed to have some nice options, including local Flemish food. Another good restaurant choice! Scott’s beef stew and my pasta were both very good. The rest of the evening was spent wandering around, stopping by a chocolate shop (yes, more food!), and sitting in the Markt (Market Square) just people-watching for awhile. Check out a quick photo recap below:
And now, it’s time for Paris! I started this post on the train from Bruges and I’m finishing it in our Paris apartment. It’s pretty hot here, but the sun is shining and we’re looking forward to having a great time. Watch for another update soon!