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.
Never mind that the stairs required someone reliable on belay: Totally. Worth. It.
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.
Thing #3: But in most neighborhoods, there was no doubt we were in Flanders. I loved the architecture, because it was so … well, unfamiliar.
Thing #4: The tiny-but-stunning architectural details. Many of the houses in Bruges are charmingly weather-worn or beautifully decorated. Sometimes both.
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.
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.
Thing #7: The Christmas market. It was in full swing — both day and night — in front of City Hall.
Thing #8: Strolling along the canals. Enough said.
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.
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.)
And on that note, I bid a fond farewell to Bruges.