Arrival in Bruges...
the guidebook said it was a leisurely 20 minute walk to my hotel so armed with a map and my bags off I went!
I was doing well except I mistook the Strand and the Cathedral for the Market Square and I quickly became lost!
The cobbled streets made dragging a trolley case quite challenging indeed...but as the sun was shining and I was in Bruges I decided to make the most of it...I slowed down, enjoyed the sights, asked for directions and found my way.
My Hotel was right on the canals so I assumed all the rooms would have good views and some do but as I found out they are more expensive than mine and I ended up at the back of the hotel in a room with a beautiful view of a wall...at least I had the fire escape if I needed it!!!
BUT...I had a comfortable bed, breakfast included and I was in a perfect spot just a few minutes from everything!! I got settled...had a 30 minute power nap and headed out to explore...
The view from outside my hotel...
I took a canal boat ride to get familiar with my surroundings.
Easter is a very busy time in Bruges - chocolate heaven - so masses of tourists everywhere! I hadn"t planned specifically on being here for Easter as when I booked I didn't realise Easter was so late this year and it was only by accident that I arrived at one of the busiest times of the year!
I wandered some of the streets and then got a hot chocolate and a Belgian waffle for lunch - as you have to do...Delicious!
Some of the sights around Bruges...
I walked till late afternoon then I headed back to the hotel and looked up some reviews for a dinner venue and found that the restaurant next to the hotel had some good reviews so that was my choice. Erasmus was a delicious choice indeed. Steak that was melt in your mouth, mushroom sauce with loads of real mushrooms in it salad and of course...fries! One of Belgium's claims to fame is the invention of the frite...you can buy them everywhere and they serve them with everything...they even have a Frite Museum!!
After dinner the sun had just set so it was a photographers delight! I hit the streets for a few hours of wandering and taking pictures of the lighted canals and surrounding buildings - just beautiful!
And of course the beautiful shop windows...
Look closely at this one...it was next door to my hotel..
ooh la la...
I chanced upon an Easter parade to the church square, they carried fire torches and white crosses for all the unfortunate people in the world that are in need of prayer. I walked with them and they stopped in the square otside the church and the choir sang as the flutes played. It was a surprising but delightful encounter on a Good Friday evenng.
I have to say Bruges is a city that I felt very safe in wandering at night alone and it truly is a beautiful place.
Saturday dawned with sunshine and a chill in the air. Armed with my camera and my walking shoes off I went for a day of expolring. Little laneways lead to fabulous piazzas off the main streets with less tourists and just as many spectacular cafes and shops.
The Strand where I arrived yesterday was a HUGE Saturday market with everything you could imagine for sale. By 1pm it was all packed up and gone! I sat and people watched in the piazza while sipping a Belgian beer!
I wandered with no real intention and no map and I came to the Old Hospital buildings outside a busker was playing a cello' inside was a Picasso Exhibition and a free concert due to start in 30 minutes. It was a celebration of the harp. I had seen it highly rated on Trip Advisor so I went in, got a front row seat in a small auditorium that seated about 30 people. It was magical. He played two different traditional harps as well as others from around the world. He also incorporated the singing bowls and a drum/percussion instrument called a Hang. A truly lovely way to spend an hour in Bruges.
I continued to walk and travelled a little further out of the centre of town and to my relief, the further I went, the less tourists there were!! I thought Bruges was busy on Friday, but I was mistaken - thousands more arrived today!!!
Friday evening wandering the streets the city was clean and very pretty but unfortunately tonight it was not the same picture...there are many take away shops selling waffles etc on paper plates and the city was overflowing with rubbish!! The rubbish bins were full but also a lot of people just dropped their plates when they were finished...very sad for this beautiful place.
Easter Sunday - I was awoken by the church bells ringing loudly through the town and this continued on and off throughout the day. The bell pullers playing songs that as you listened you began to recognise.
The weather was cloudy and overcast for my last day so I took a ciy tour bus that took me through some areas I had missed and also showed me how much I had managed to see in my 2 days of walking!
Now off to Brussels...