Visit ONLY Once

Yesterday, while having lunch at Artie, the waiter asked me if I was visiting for the first time. I answered in the positive and he replied by excitedly telling me that I was going to have a good time. He said, “The first time you visit Bruges, it will be fantastic. The second time, not so fantastic anymore. So no point visit¬†for the second, third, or fourth time.” I was surprised. What an interesting way of marketing a city!

But he wasn’t marketing the city. He was simply telling the truth. Today is my second day in Bruges; and I was more excited window shopping that seeing the sites I have already seen during my less than half a day DIY walking tour of the city. It is truly a small city, and many of the must-do and must-see things can be done in a day. In fact, if did not have to spend 2 hours traveling from Charleroi yesterday, I would have gone on a short day trip to Ghent today.

One thing I like about Bruges though is how friendly and accommodating the locals are. There are only 20,000 of them in the city, and I read from the hotel guide that during the peak months, there are more tourists than locals in Bruges. The locals like the tourists (which is nothing short of amazing!), so much so that while taking photos on one of the bridges yesterday, a car stopped so I could frame my shot better.

I don’t think I’ll return to Bruges as a tourist. The waiter was right, the city is too small to have anything more to offer after having visited once. But I think I will return to hang out. The locals are awesome, the food is good, and I like the city’s atmosphere. Next time I visit, maybe I’ll book at room closer to the city center and spend my days writing and editing article drafts. That would be an amazing life, I think. ūüôā

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Bruges is one of the most charming places I’ve ever been

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The water makes everything so extra romantic!

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And the foliage is beautiful!

August 09, 2016 | Bruges, Belgium

Took a Plane. Off To Bruges.

Hooray to Ryanair. I am in one of my spur-of-the-moment-buy-a-Ryanair-ticket-to-somewhere moments again. It hasn’t been a week since I arrived from an exhausting trip to¬†Bergen. I haven’t really fully recovered yet and I’ve really¬†only begun to slowly get back into my Copenhagen rhythm. Yet here I am out of the country again.

I am now in Belgium. My husband and I arrived today from an 8:40 am Ryanair flight out of Copenhagen to Charleroi and waited an hour for a 2-hour bus ride from the Charleroi airport to Bruges (see Fibco here, if you are thinking of following in our footsteps). Both the flight and the bus ride were uneventful (which is a good thing!). The bus had a toilet stall, which, for the duration of the entire ride, was kept locked. Hence, the recommendation (emphasis included!) to use the toilet before boarding the bus.

Like¬†my so far gone teenage years, I am currently staying a hostel. Having lived and grown close to home, Andrew has never stayed in a hostel (there was never a need for one) and I wanted to give him that experience. Hostels are also a great way to save money on non-conference trips that are not funded by grant money (*cheeky grin*). We’re currently staying in an 8-bed dorm at ¬†St. Christopher’s Bauhaus Hostel. The walls are thin and people from the bar below can be heard from the room, but the place is clean, breakfast is free, there are lockers to safe keep belongings, a magnetic key is available for each hostel resident, and toilets are stuffed with toilet paper and hand towels. I can totally live here for a few days. Our roommate experience has also been good so far.

We didn’t really get to do much today since we arrived later afternoon. We had late lunch at Artie: Andrew had Fleming beef stew and a dark dead skull beer (Artie’s local beer) while I had ragout chicken and a blonde dead skull beer. Portions were ginormous! I was so full, I wanted to roll back to the hostel. But the food was definitely worth it and the server was courteous and friendly. If you’re in Bruges, I definitely recommend having one of your meals here.

After a very late lunch, we went on a 30-minute canal tour. It was nice to see the city from the water for 8 EUR. Our our guide spoke in three different languages while driving the boat. The views were fantastic, but, to be perfectly honest, I did not find the verbal part of the tour satisfying. I hardly got anything from our tour guide. He spoke fast, mumbled a lot, and it definitely did not help that his speakers were creaky. Too bad for us. Especially  for me, since I was very eager to listen and learn from a local.

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View during the canal tour

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What a charming little door by the waterfront!

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I could stare at this forever! So pretty!!!

Our canal tour was followed by a short walk to the Brug Square and the Grote Markt. We saw the the gothic town hall, the belfry of Bruges, and the Sint-Salvatorskathedraal, among many other things. We had dinner at a cozy restaurant called One, which seem to be owned by a genuinely friendly couple. I had Flemish beef stew and a dark Trappist beer while Andrew had meatballs and a blonde Trappist beer. Now, the husband is unconscious (and possibly snoring) on Bed 3 and I will soon be unconscious on Bed 4. So far so good.

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Old buildings at the Market Square

 September 8, 2016 | Bruges, Belgium