We did a day trip to Brugge from Brussels. Our room mates had visited the day before and they suggested going to the view tower first thing to avoid long queues. So after taking a train to Brugge and having a baguette sandwich on the way for breakfast, we reached there around 9am.
The main train station is a bit further away from the old city centre. We decided to get on the local bus. We took in the old city charm for a few minutes and then went straight to the watch tower. The watch tower has limited capacity and at any one time only a certain number of people can be in the tower. There was a count on the ins and outs. We stood in the queue for a good 15-20mins and we finally got in. To climb to the top of the tower there were approx 400 steps. There were multiple levels showcasing the bell 🔔 and the treasury. We made it to the top and the views were breathtaking. It was a challenging climb but the view was quite rewarding too. We took photos and started to climb down to make way for others waiting. There was a counter at the entry for the number of people entering & exiting the tower. When the capacity is reached, the door locks. Interesting!
After the tower visit, we aimed to do the walking tour of the city. Before that, there was a local market in the main square so we took a stroll and tried some local fruits and sweets. We got some cherries, a local fruit (don’t know the name) and nougat. The nougat was quite rich and fuelled us for the 3.5 hours walking tour.
The walking tour started from the main square just next to the farmers market. The tour guide was an old gentleman who used to serve in the Belgium army and he was a Brugge local. He was very passionate about telling the group about all the legends and local stories about Brugge. He also got a folder with pictures to show us different symbols, flags and stuff. We spent a good 30 minutes at the start getting a background on Brugge. Below are some of the interesting facts, legends and stories about Brugge:
- Swans in lakes: a young couple were deeply in love and because the town didn’t approve of their marriage, they decided to elope. While they were hiding and running away the girl was extremely thirsty and couldn’t find any water. She died as her thrust couldn’t be quenched. The father of the girl remorseful her death and promised that no one would ever put a foot on her grave. To ensure this he buried her middle of the lake and put swans in her memory.
- swans in lake- legend 2: the queen of Brugge married the Austrian king. She used to rule over Brugge. Unfortunately she died and the king sent his army personnel to make sure order is maintained in Brugge. The locals captured him and imprisoned him. Learning about this, the king himself decided to visit the place. When he visited, the locals did the same with him too. The army then came to rescue the king. Brugge residents realised their mistake and asked for forgiveness. The king said he has a condition that they must abide by if they want them to forgive. The condition was that the lake should always have swans since swan was a symbol of his dynasty.
- Brugge fool- locals wanted to open a mental hospital in the town and asked the king for permission. The king did not approve. In order to please the king, the locals decided to throw a big party for the king and his men. People of Brugge used to drink a lot of beer. At they party beer was flowing and everyone drank including the king. Once the king was in a good mood the diplomat of the town asked for his permission again. Contrary to his impression of never smiling – the king started laughing loudly. He said you do not need to build a mental hospital, just lock the doors of the town and you have one. The local beer is still called ‘Brugge Fool’ pertaining to this story.
With these stories and more plus visits to multiple historic buildings, we ended the walk tour by thanking the guide with a tip.
After the long walking tour we were very hungry and decided to stop at a restaurant near the old fish market. Jay missed trying Brussel Mussels so this was a good chance to do so. He ordered the one with garlic and butter. They were bit pricey as compared to Brussels but tasty.
After a wholesome meal, we started walking towards the main square. The satiate my sweet tooth we went straight to the waffles van and sink our teeth into Belgian wallfles one more time.
After that we decided to visit the church in the square which claims to showcase Christ’s blood. We went in but apparently, the blood is only shown once a day at a particular time. Nevertheless. The glass stained windows of the church were quite visit worthy.
After spending some time admiring the church, we went for a stroll through the streets and get a feel of the place. We walked through small narrow streets, local shops and interesting street performers.
We even bought a small price of the famous Brugge lace which is weaved traditionally and only a handful of ladies know how to make it. Posted the postcards and ducked the rain playing hide and seek with us.
After a wonderful day at Brugge it was time to go back to Brussels.
Our take on Brugge: very quintessential town. Touristy and a place to watch your pockets. Lot of history and charm. Would love to go back for a holiday again.
Date Visited: 9th August 2017