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Boating in Bruges

BELGIUM | Tuesday, 12 July 2011 | Views [500]

The belfry of Bruges, or Belfort, formerly housed a treasury and the municipal archives, and served as an observation post for spotting fires and other danger.

The belfry of Bruges, or Belfort, formerly housed a treasury and the municipal archives, and served as an observation post for spotting fires and other danger.

Bloody i-touch! Somehow it managed to reset itself back to London time which is an HOUR BEHIND Germany. My train left at 10:30am and I realised this at 10am…and it was a 30min walk to the train station. I threw my gear in my bag and realised that I CAN run with a full backpack. Fortunately it was mostly downhill to the train station and I made it in 20min, only to find that the train was running 15min late anyway! So I had time to buy a much-needed drink. Fortunately my changeover to Bruges had a 45min window, so I made it with 10min to spare.

I arrived in Bruges around 3:30pm and it was only a 10min walk in the rain to Passage Hostel; where dark, dingy, old, narrow wooden steps wound their way up to my dimly lit but well ventilated room. Smelling a bit of stew from the downstairs kitchen and bar, it reminded me a lot of my grandmother’s house. I dropped my gear off and headed into town. The good thing about the hostel is that it’s only 5min walk from the main square, and I decided to climb the bell tower (made famous in the movie "In Bruges"). There are only 368 steps so it’s really not that difficult a climb. It was extremely windy at the top but the view was great – pity the weather was so rubbish. I wandered home checking out the tourist and chocolate shops (of which there are a LOT). I could only check my e-mails in the restaurant/bar area so I bought a beer and sat in the corner on my computer. Soon the lovely smells from the kitchen were too good to resist and I ended up ordering a “Flemish stew” (beef in beer) which was delicious.

The following day the weather was again pretty average, but good enough for a walk around town. I spent most of the morning wandering around the cobbled streets of the Old Town, taking in all the beautiful old buildings and canals. A lot like Amsterdam only quainter. I visited the “Church of the Holy Blood” that is said to have some drops of Jesus’ blood (though not on display and the blessing is not for tourists) and the “Church of St Mary”, which has the Madonna & Child statue by Michaelangelo, the only sculpture by him outside of Italy. There are also some decorated crypts under the church floor that have been exposed and covered in plexiglass. I stopped at the park for a quick lunch but didn’t sit around long as it was too cold, and soon headed back into town where I went on a very touristy but apparently “must-do” ride on one of the many boats plying the canals. For 7 euro for a 30min ride it’s not bad value and we did end up heading out further than I could be bothered walking. It’s also a different view of the city from the water. After the trip I wandered slowly back to my hostel via the shops and spent the evening reading. An Austrian woman in my room told me about a glockenspiel concert at 9pm that evening at the belltower, so I ended up joining her for a very different musical experience. It was amazing, though pretty cold up by the tower and I was glad to get back to my warm bed after an hour sitting on concrete. And this is supposed to be summer!

Tags: bell tower, bruges, canal boating, glockenspiel, madonna & child

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