Tuesday, 12 August 2014

A rainy day in beautiful Bruges.

“Welcome to toy-town!” a colleague said to me upon arriving in Bruges a couple of months ago. I was there for a mere two hours and didn’t see much more than the inside of a conference room, alas. So I was keen to go back and visit the famous town properly.

Bruges is one of Belgium’s biggest tourist attractions – its medieval architecture, cobbled streets and network of riverways have long drawn in visitors from around the world.

What with Mama and Shrimp coming to stay with me in Brussels for a few days, I oh-so-kindly waited for them (slash I haven’t actually had a free weekend since moving to Belgium nearly six months ago) and we all went on a daytrip to Bruges together.

Did you know the whole city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site? Well it is. You know you’re in for a cracker with that to look forward to.

We hopped on a train in sunny Brussels (rare) and less than an hour later arrived in rainy Bruges (not rare.) I read recently that it rains 18 days out of every month in Belgium, so bear that in mind when choosing your year abroad locations, kids! (Obvs I wouldn't really change my placement for the world but a little less rain would be nice.)

So just imagine the sun is shining and the sky is blue in all these pictures, mmm kay?

Umbrellas up and cagoules on, we got off the bus in the famous market square, appreciated the view for all of 10 seconds before deciding the torrential rain was too horrendous and running into a tea room.

Well, if a deluge of rain isn’t a good excuse for some of Belgium’s finest hot chocolate, I don’t know what is. In a cosy, packed and cute tea room, Prestige (I love a bit of granny-esque décor), we sat down to wait pray for the downpour to pass.

It turned out we’d made a very good choice – Mama said it was the best hot chocolate of her life! The perfect temperature – not so hot that you burn your mouth, not tepid so you feel the need to down it, and kept warm in individual metal jugs – and served in cute teacups, with a little slice of brioche cake on the side. Don’t mind if I do!

It was thick, rich, silky smooth and just what we needed. Three hot chocolates later and the rain was lightening up too.

Feeling newly energised, we decided to brave it and head off to explore toy-town in the rain.

It turns out a town as pretty as Bruges looks beautiful in the rain too. The wet cobbled streets reflect the sky and the leaves on trees and plants glisten under raindrops.

It also turns out turning your head to the side while wearing a hood isn’t the easiest thing in the world.

Potentially not my best look ever
We wandered and snapped and chatted (and even snapchatted).

I really liked the Bruges architecture: most of the houses have that typical Belgian thing going on – I call them step roofs. You know, when the top is pointy but it looks like there are steps on either side. (Technical name in the comments please!) This is what I mean...

Exposed brick houses, giant doors with ornate handles, sneaky modern buildings that you almost don’t notice nestling in amongst the old ones… It was interesting to just walk and admire.

Amsterdam-esque vibe going on here
Giant door? Or tiny sister?
It soon looked like another downpour was imminent though, so we decided it was definitely lunchtime and popped into 't Brugs Pitahuis (I'm no Flem but I believe that means The Bruges Pitta House) for, you guessed it, pitta breads.

Tourist trap that it is, restaurants in Bruges are pretty expensive, so pittas for 7 Euros were pretty good, not to mention delish.

Chicken for Mama and Shrimp, and falafel for me. All served with nibbles, sauces and dips. Yum yum in my tum (thanks mum!)

Aaand back out to explore we went!

Love the elaborate lamp-posts
We saw the Burg square which is home to the town hall, and then moseyed on back to the market square. Horse-drawn carriages trotted over the cobbles while tourists huddles under their brollies.

By Jove, it really is beautiful. When you look closely, you notice how ornate and intricate the buildings are – quite the architectural feat. The flags were flying in the blustery gales, but I thought they looked rather pretty.

The rain was falling yet again, more and more heavily, so we decided to explore the shopping area of town. As it was a Sunday, there were pretty much only chocolate shops open. Oh well. What a shame. I guess we’ll just have to run from one to the other sheltering from the rain and eating free samples.

So yeah. That happened.

Fearless adventurers that we are, we three journeyed on through the treacherous conditions. It was all too much for some, namely my map of the town. Farewell, trusty companion. You served us well.

We were not to be defeated so easily, however. Over the rising-river we went once more to the most photographed spot in town.

Spires, the river, tiny windows... It had a Cambridge-esque vibe going on – I almost expected to see students punting down under the bridges.

Actually this last one reminds me more of Venice than Cambridge
And check out this statue:

I think it looks like she's just collapsed trying to hold the plank. And hey, no judgement here. We've all been there, right?

Speaking of fitness, shall we go and get a waffle? Could you go for a gaufre? (I pronounce that 'gaufre gaufre' and chuckle to myself.)

There's only one answer to that question really, isn't there?


Freshly made, warm, sticky, sweet waffles. I've said it before but I'll say it again: legit Belgian waffles (these are actually Liège ones, which I prefer to Brussels waffles) actually in Belgium are about a million times better than waffles, well, anywhere else. Trust.

See that joy? That's what a proper waffle does to ya.

Seeing as the chocolate museum had decided to unexpectedly close early that day, much to our dismay, we decided it was time to head home.

And guess what happened just as we were leaving...

The sun only went and came out for the first time that day!


Weeeell, what can ya do? Bruges was beaut nonetheless. Utterly charming, really. A true toy-town and one worth a visit. Just don't forget your umbrella.

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  1. The "Crow-stepped gable" was the technical name you were looking for. Nice to read blog about Bruges. We're happy you had such lovely memories and we're willing to share them. Thanks.

    1. should have been "were" and not "we're", sorry

  2. Your pics are always oh so lovely <3


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