We first visited Belgium in January 2007 with our sons on holiday between college semesters. With an ambitious itinerary, we skipped Bruges and opted for Brussels instead. Even though we ate mussels in Brussels (and horse), when the movie, In Bruges, starring Colin Farrell, came out in 2008, I knew missing Bruges was a big mistake. So when we booked a cruise to Spain, Portugal, and Gibralter sailing out of Rotterdam, Netherlands in April 2016, I saw an opportunity to correct my error. We decided to go early and make a side trip first to Bruges.
We arrived by train late in the afternoon. As we exited the railway station, we looked around for a taxi and after a short wait, we found a ride to our hotel, Ter Brughe. I discovered this historic hotel dating from the 13th century on the internet and I believed it was perfectly situated within walking distance of all the sights we wanted to see. We were not disappointed.
Our first priority after settling into our hotel was to locate dinner. We found Restaurant Bistro de Schilder in a nearby square, and while the waiter wasn’t especially engaging, the food was adequate. Lori and I ordered the white asparagus, a new experience for both of us and quite tasty.
This was also our first experience with famous Zot beer, made in Bruges. We toured the brewery the following day but Jim and Rick each enjoyed a preview Zot with dinner, while Lori and I stuck with our usual red wine.
After dinner, we set off to find the historic central Market Place where we began our exploration of this unique UNESCO World Heritage site. Bruges (French), or Brugge (Dutch), is a superior example of a well-preserved medieval town. An economic and commercial powerhouse during the middle ages, it retains its Gothic flavor with narrow cobblestone streets and characteristic architecture.
The best-known building in Bruges is undoubtedly the bell tower, dating from the 13th century. We enthusiastically planned to climb the 366 steps to the top the following morning for a panoramic view of this historic, captivating medieval town.
Based on events in April 2016.