Around Wednesday of last week, we decided we needed to go to Bruges for a night. Keep in mind, Bruges is a 2.5 hour drive for us, so it’s super close and actually a bit of a shame that we hadn’t yet gone. It’s always interesting in Europe how a 2 hour drive can take you to what feels like another world. I love that, and one day if I leave Europe, I will certainly miss it. So, anyway, we decided to make the trek and now I can state with certainty that I love that city and I will be tempted to go once a month.
How would I describe Bruges? It’s obviously medieval. It’s obviously picturesque. You can, obviously drink amazing beer to your heart’s content. There is something else though. The city exudes a slower pace and a warmth of the people. I always try to get a feeling for a place when we travel. I don’t want to just see the tourists sites (actually I tend to avoid them) but I want to understand what daily existence is like there and I want to attempt to connect to the history and the past that lingers in the present. Maybe it’s Europe that creates that desire or maybe it’s the actor in me. Cobblestone streets, old stone buildings proudly standing the test of time, pubs, richly decorated rooms, people lazily riding bikes to and fro, and old fashioned stores create a connection to the past that I so desperately want to soak up. If only Bruges would not allow cars, I dare say it could be perfect. I loved finding an abandoned street, looking up at the rooftops and hearing horse hooves approaching with a carriage behind. I wish I could experience those streets 1 or 200 years ago.
Anyway, Bruges maintains the magic of a time gone by and once you escape the hordes of tourists, it’s really just lovely. We went for one night, staying at Hotel de Orangeries, but when on Sunday we woke to perfect blue skies and warm weather (a novelty in this part of the world) we knew we couldn’t leave and checked into another hotel, Van Cleef, that I had on my radar. I’m SO happy we stayed as Day 2 was just perfect!!! We started the day at Hotel de Orangerie with some of the best croissants I’ve ever tasted and it just got better from there.
We are big boutique hotel people and always on a mission to find the best. I’ll do a review on those later as I’m starting a “hotel review” section. We really were able to relax (which can be hard for Dragan and me) drink and eat good food, walk off everything and take in Bruges. Dragan and I travel the same as we prefer just to get lost wandering around, stumbling into random things and experiences, rather than following an itinerary or seeing “the sights”. We drank beer along the canals watching the swans lazily swimming past, we sat on terraces and read our books, we stopped into antique stores to listen to the owners describe the city in their words, we enjoyed watching proper dance classes on a square, we laughed through the rain on Saturday, we stopped to pet dogs and speak to their owners, we walked until the big canal ended just to see what was there only to discover windmills and water that became so GREEN the further out we walked. It was hard to leave on Monday but it makes it easier knowing we can go back anytime.
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