Last year I had planned to visit Bruges but with last minute change in plans, Bruges was scrapped. This year, being in Amsterdam, of course a trip to this small Belgian town was very much in order. I decided to do just a day trip as opposed to a short stay as I was not exactly sure what to expect.
I booked a coach trip which would see us commute 3 hrs one way to Bruges. Shockingly I was not the only brown tourist this time around. The drive to the town was uneventful. The guide gave us some background on both Amsterdam and Bruges both from a historical and contemporary socio-political context and prepared us really for the town itself.
What a beautiful little town it is. It was almost like going back in time, with horse drawn carriages, beautiful old churches and towers, cobblestoned streets and squares. Even with the throng of tourists, the town was still quaint and refreshingly authentic. Of course one of the huge draws was chocolate. One does not go to Belgium and not try or buy chocolate. How can you? There is a chocolatier on almost every corner. Wonderful hand made chocolates, and like the cheese in Amsterdam, there was chocolate in every iteration. I had the good fortune of being able to sample quite a bit of chocolate. How lucky am I? When you walk into these shops, the smell is absolutely heavenly and if you are a chocolate lover, well...what can I say?
I also used my time to try some food in Belgium and chose one of the nicer restaurants bordering the main square. I decided to go with the Carbonnades Flamandes, the traditional Flemish beef stew, which was served with pommes frites and salad and which is like the national dish. The beef, which is cooked in dark beer, was so tender and succulent. It was not very different to West Indian stew to be honest, but it was very delicious. The beer!
The canals of Bruges are surely for those in love. I am in love with canals. While I am sure those who live there are not that in love with the mosquitoes, they do make for beautiful views and heavenly experiences. I would love to go back to Bruges, though certainly to enjoy the romance of the city.