Virtual Travel Tuesday: Bruges, Belgium

Excluding my four years in college, even the most casual observer would conclude that I am not much of a beer drinker (going to college in Maine, beer was almost a requirement to make it through the winter). Sure, I will have the occasional can after a long, hard bike ride, but other than that, beer has the tendency to gather quite a bit of dust in our house (it took close to four years to consume the beer that was leftover after our wedding).

That all changes, however, once I step foot into Belgium. I first started leading bike trips to France’s neighbor to the north at some point in the late ’90s/early 2000s and while there is a certain charm to Gent, the highlight of the trip is easily Bruges, the capital of the province of West Flanders.

Bruges was one of the most important cities in Europe for close to three centuries as it was the major port town on the Atlantic. Starting in the 16th century, however, the Zwin Channel which was the city’s access to the sea, began to silt up, eventually ending all commerce and Bruges’ reign as an economic juggernaut.

As a result, the city was essentially deserted, as the residents left and Antwerp quickly replaced it as the region’s most important port of call. Luckily for Bruges, however, the city remained intact, and very little development occurred for the next four centuries or so when it became a tourist attraction in the latter half of the 19th century.

Today, Bruges should be on any European bucket list, particularly if there is even a remote interest at all in beer.

Bruges is a city of canals, often called the “Venice of the North” (along with several other cities, but I think Bruges wins).

The belfry can be seen from just about everywhere in the city.

One of the first orders of business: a waffle in the Market, one of the two main squares in the center of town.

Due to its virtual abandonment at the end of the 15th century, much of Bruges appears as it did then.

The Belfry of Bruges. One of these days I will climb to the top.

Bruges is not very big, so it is easy to meander the cobbled streets and take in the sites. This is the Halle, next to the Belfry in the Markt (main square).

It is easy to get lost in thought, wondering what life was like in 15th century Bruges.

I often make my way to Onze Lieve Vrouwekerk (the Church of Our Lady) which has an original Michelangelo statue—the only one to leave Italy during the artist’s lifetime. It also sports flying buttresses. I love flying buttresses.

It also has the tomb of Mary, the last Duchess of Burgundy (and her father).

Mussels are a must.

As is a Rodenbach Grand Cru, a West Flanders the best of West Flanders’ red ales.

Like many European cities, Bruges is enchanting at night.

The Belfry is a tad spooky.

I usually get a Kwak there since that is my mother-in-law’s maiden name (really it is because of the really cool glass/stand combo).).

I always leave Bruges by bike, and just a kilometer or two, when I see this windmill, I know my stay in one of my favorite towns has once again come to an end.

About the drunken cyclist

I have been an occasional cycling tour guide in Europe for the past 20 years, visiting most of the wine regions of France. Through this "job" I developed a love for wine and the stories that often accompany the pulling of a cork. I live in Houston with my lovely wife and two wonderful sons.
This entry was posted in France, Paris, Travel, Wine. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Virtual Travel Tuesday: Bruges, Belgium

  1. beth says:

    After seeing “in Bruges” I’ve wanted to visit

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sheree says:

    I have no interest whatsoever in beer though I did enjoy visiting Bruges. As your fabulous photos amply demonstrate, it’s a lovely spot. Great post!

    Like

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