The Top 10 Things I Loved About Bruges*

We were sad to leave Bruges this morning. I have so many little stories to share (like watching the movie In Bruges last night … in Bruges). But because I’m on a bouncy train — and because I don’t have time to construct a cohesive narrative — here’s a loosely structured list of The Top 10 Things I Loved About Bruges* (*In No Particular Order).

Thing #1: Our tiny rented house. I loved the fact that it consisted basically of three rooms, stacked on top of each other.

Bruges apt upstairs 1020138 BLOG

Bruges apartment 1020116 BLOG

Never mind that the stairs required someone reliable on belay: Totally. Worth. It.

Bruges apt stairs 1020146 BLOG

Thing #2: Some parts of our neighborhood reminded me of Ireland. Call me silly, but I felt like I was getting two trips in one. Our house appears in the second photo below, by the way — look for the ivy on the front.

Bruges ireland 1010768 BLOG

Bruges Peperstraat 1020011 BLOG

Thing #3: But in most neighborhoods, there was no doubt we were in Flanders. I loved the architecture, because it was so … well, unfamiliar.

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Bruges deets 1010759 BLOG

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Thing #4: The tiny-but-stunning architectural details. Many of the houses in Bruges are charmingly weather-worn or beautifully decorated. Sometimes both.

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Bruges deet roof 1010420 BLOG

Bruges tower deet 1010890 BLOG

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Bruges doorway 1010942 BLOG

Thing #5: Happening upon historic landmarks. I’d read somewhere that Bruges was an alternative stop on the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. This little shell in the pavement told me I’d stumbled upon the old path.

Bruges Santiago 1020056 BLOG

Thing #6: Spotting Bruges’ ancient crest. It’s a gothic “b” sporting a crown, topped with a forked ascender. Notice it just once, and soon you’ll see it’s everywhere.

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Bruges lights 1020038 BLOG

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Thing #7: The Christmas market. It was in full swing — both day and night — in front of City Hall.

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Bruges Weihacntmkt 1010905 BLOG

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Thing #8: Strolling along the canals. Enough said.

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Thing #9: The holiday lights. Wreaths and illuminated garlands span almost every major street in Bruges. The effect really did evoke the “winter wonderland” of song.

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Thing #10: Seeing my first-ever windmill. There are actually four of these along the river in Bruges, each with a distinct “personality.” One had no fencing, so I braved the climb for a view from the top. (No photos from the summit, though — I didn’t have the guts to let go of the railing.)

Bruges windmill 3 1020088 BLOG

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Bruges windmill steps 1010478 BLOG

And on that note, I bid a fond farewell to Bruges.

Cologne is up next — but first, a very special Paris detour. Back tomorrow!

15 comments

    • I highly recommend going in the winter! The light is lovely, and the Christmas markets are great fun. Hope you can make it back soon.

  1. What a treat. I visited Bruges just for a long weekend a few years ago, but had forgotten just how *ridiculously* picturesque it is. Every townscape looks like a Breughel. I adore those gingerbread-like crenellated rooftops.

    • “Ridiculously picturesque” is a wonderful description, DB: I feared I would wear out my camera before we even got to the second city on our grand tour! I hope you’re able to go back someday, as do I. It’s as relaxing as Venice, but with considerably less risk of absentmindedly falling into a canal. Ha, ha.

    • Lovely photos, Lutz! I wish you’d had more time to explore all the little streets, too; each seems to have its own personality. But — as your newest subscriber — I very much hope you’ll treat us to just a few more pictures from your two days there? Thanks very much for stopping by, and happy travels!

    • I’m very honored that a resident of Bruges should like my photos! And your thought about the windmills perfectly sums up why I love to travel: It’s marvelous to discover new versions of what constitutes “familiar.” You are lucky to live in such a beautiful city. Thank you very much for your kind comment!

    • If ever you decide to go back, please drop me a note so I can put you in touch with the owner of that charming house. Bruges is indeed wonderful and picturesque, but that house pushed our experience right over the edge and into “fairy-tale-like.”

    • How lucky for you! I remember the chocolate shops vividly — but in my case, because I’m not supposed to eat much candy, so it took every bit of willpower I had to try to ignore them as I walked past. They really were *everywhere.* Hope you had a wonderful time.

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