Not quite sure of the correct way to spell the town as it is writen all three ways so we'll stick with Bruges for this post.
Today was our much anticipated trip to Bruges so we headed to the station for the 10am train. We heard Bruges was a touristy spot but nothing prepared us for the hordes of tourists we encountered! There were clearly more people per square meter in Bruges than in Brussels. It was definitely not the quaint little lace-making town I read about many years ago.
After taking the bus to Market Square, we attempted (and I do mean attempted) to follow Rick Steves’ walking tour of Bruges…I love Rick’s tour books but this is the first time I’ve ever tried to actually follow one of his walking tours. Now Julie and I are two very intelligent women but either Rick is really bad with maps and directions or Bruges is one confusing town! We think it was the later as it did seem quite challenging to get around the town.
Somehow we ended up at Burg Square and found a little café for lunch. They had a nice prix fixe menu and for just €16 we had a salad, waterzooi with chicken and chocolate mousse. Waterzooi is a classic Flemish (or Flemisch) stew with a heavy cream base…yum yum!
After lunch we tried to pick-up the walking tour to find the Basilica of the Holy Blood. Legend has it the church has a vial of Jesus’ blood…not sure how accurate the legend is but we thought it was worth a look. We wandered all over town and just before arriving at a church, we saw a lacemaker in a doorway…she was making bobbin lace (a dying art in Europe).
We ended up at what we thought was the Basilica only to discover it was the Church of Our Lady. As luck would have it, we arrived just before a concert for a group so we were able to enjoy the music for a bit before heading back out.
Of course a day in Belgium would not be complete without some chocolate so we stopped off at Dumon for a little treat. Dumon gives little samples to help you make your decision...really can anything be better than chocolate samples?!
One last attempt to find the Basilica and as it turns out, we were sitting right in front of it during out two hour lunch! Now, don’t laugh because to our defense, the entrance looked absolutely nothing like a church entrance. Unfortunately photos were not allowed in the church and the funny thing is, had we realized the church was there while having lunch, we could have gone in while they were doing the Veneration of the Holy Blood but we just missed it when we arrived around 4:30…go figure! **Note the very small doorway to the left of the red awning...that is the entrance to the Basilica..no wonder we missed it!
As you can probably tell, Bruges was not one of our favorite spots so we decided to head back to the train station and get back to Brussels a little early. To the town’s defense, I’m sure when it is not swarmed with tourists, it is a charming little place.