When people decide to go on a vacation, and the place lies outside the boundaries of India, then there are many names which crop up in their minds. It ranges right from the Swiss Alps, to the French Riviera, the Gondolas of Venice, beaches of Maldives and to the hip and happening party beach of Ibiza. These are all the been-there-and-seen-that places. How about holidaying in an unconventional location which hasn’t yet been fully explored and still lies untouched by tourist activity? This exotic and beautiful place goes by the name of Bruges. Welcome to Belgium.
Bruges is located to the north-western part of Belgium. It falls under the Flemish region and is the largest city of the province of West Flanders. The city probably derives its name from ‘brugge’ meaning bridge in the Dutch language. The city spreads itself on an area of more than 13,840 hectares. It is oval shaped and is home to a population of around 200,000 people. Like a few European cities like Amsterdam and Venice, which have a canal of their own, Bruges also is situated over a canal. Its close proximity to the sea means that it is also an important port. It is by far one of the few cities who have managed to maintain and preserve the old world charm and bring to you a picture-perfect holiday destination.
At any given time during the year, the temperature is Bruges does not exceed beyond 21o C. There is summer and winter months, but the heat and warmth of the sun is not something that is constant during the summer months. There could be a few spells of shower here and there. So you need to equip yourself accordingly.
This historical city has a lot on offer. There are pre-Roman era churches, Gothic-style architectural Forts and palaces, and also a few museums. Public transport consists of buses, run a private Flemish transport company, and taxis which cost around 10 euros. Given a weak Indian Rupee compared to other Western currencies, taxis and private buses may prove to be a little expensive. However, Bruges also has the Rent-a-cycle option, which is easy on the pocket and given the city’s cobbled streets, is also an enjoyable experience. Another way to save up on cash is making use of the Bruges-card, which gives the tourists a discounted entry to all the major attractions. It can be used for 2-3 consecutive days and is available at all the hostels around town. If you wish to visit more than two museums, then purchasing a combined ticket for the same gives you good value. To make your exploration easier, these hostels also hand over maps containing detailed information about the names of the streets, the crossroads and locations to visit.
If you are foodie, how about starting from museums meant which are based on food? You heard that right! Food Museums! And they are not one, but two of them! So let’s dive in. First on offer is the Friet Museum. The word ‘friet’ means fries or chips, and it is the only museum of its kind in the world. It takes you on the journey of how a humble potato from South America was transformed into a dish, which is now available in all corners of the world. Remember to try the fries cooked by a person who formerly raked up dishes for the Belgian Royal Family. Next is the Choco-story Museum, and as the name suggests it is describes how chocolate evolved from cocoa. On platter is also a chocolate exhibition where you will definitely get to savour some excellent samples. Belcolade, the Belgian chocolate manufacturer is the company running this museum. Then, there is the Groeninge Museum which showcases artworks and displays painting done by the artisans who worked and lived in Bruges.
This place also has many beautiful churches. Some of them are the Jerusalem Church and the Basilica of the Holy Blood. The former is built of fine black marble and is adorned with Gothic stained glass, whereas the latter has a relic, containing a vial of blood that is said to belong to Jesus Christ. The Brewery De Halve Maan is another tourist attraction. Here, one is taken on a tour of the beer making process, which lasts for about 45 minutes. And what’s more! At the end of the tour, you are handed one drink of Brugse Zot or Straffe Hendrik, either at the outdoor terrace or in the indoor bar.
You can also enjoy the boat rides in the canals running through Bruges, where the boat guide briefs you about the city’s history. This Victorian-era city has yet the horse-drawn carriages which are a hit with couples. This romantic trip is for about 30 minutes. There are boats in water and horse-drawn carriages on land. But what about the sky! To have an aerial view of Bruges, you can hop onto the hot air balloons which are operated daily. The Belgian chocolate is quite famous, so don’t forget to bring back chocolate goodies for family and friends. You could also shop for the beautiful art and craft items which make for excellent gifting options.
This is one off-beat destination, which is calling you out to come and soak it in!