Being in Bruges is like stepping back in time. If you can avoid the busy streets with the tourists and souvenir shops (like Katelijne street) and stick to the little back roads and side streets, you can still imagine that you are in the 14th or 15th century. The combination of medieval buildings, high towers, big squares, little canals give Bruges such a unique feeling of a city forgotten in time.
In the train from Ghent to Bruges we had an interesting fellow traveller, who kept taking his dentures in and out, only to pause to burn his beard with his lighter. Good thing it took us only about 25 minutes to our destination.
Through a friend of the friend that showed us around Ghent, we had a shortlist of picturesque spots in Bruges. When we got to Bruges train station, we bought a map and a pen, sat down and marked the places on the list and drew a rough line between the spots along the streets on the map. That would be our rough route for the day. During the day we of course enjoyed Vlaamse friet (like French fries, but better and served with mayonnaise), Belgian waffles and bought some Belgian chocolates at a chocolaterie.
One of the things I absolutely love about Bruges, and you find that in Ghent as well, is that all the buildings have such an incredible amount of detail on them. You can pass even the smallest little, non-descript shop and there will be some kind of carving or detail on the outside of the building, on the railings of stairs, door handles, letter boxes, everywhere you look. You need a lifetime to be able to take in every detail.
At some point we got caught in the rain. That was a good time for a cup of coffee. After about an hour, the rain cleared a bit, we bought an umbrella and took to the streets again. Unfortunately the delay caused by the rain also caused us to miss the opening times for going up the Belfry of Bruges to see nice view of the city.
We were caught by the rain again some time later and huddled under our umbrella as it poured around us, this time no place to hide. As it started to clear a bit again, we walked back towards the centre to find a good, warm dinner, still trying to keep to the smaller streets. Stopping along the way to buy me a warmer jersey. Dinner we found at a small pub/restaurant called De Hobbit. Local beer, good food and friendly service, can’t ask for more!
Raining again and getting colder, we took the bus back to the station and waited there for our train back to Ghent.