BRUGES: I Didn't Even Know Where Bruges F*@king Was...

February 21, 2016  •  4 Comments


...it's in BELGIUM.


From the moment I heard this very line (from the opening scene of the 2008 movie In Bruges), I knew I had to go one day. The city's 12th century canals, cobblestone streets, and medieval architecture provide the perfect backdrop for this surreal movie that manages to be insanely offensive with over the top politically incorrect dialogue, yet serious at the same time -  by the end of the movie, I was in love (with Bruges that is)....and seven years later - I finally got to go! 

There's no real plan for the day, except to take the 6 am train from Brussels to Bruges (55-min ride) and just walk around. We weren't in any hurry, just enjoyed walking around - everywhere you look, there's something interesting, and the city is so small you can walk everywhere within a couple of hours. One of Europe's best-preserved medieval towns and also known as Europe's Venice of the North, Bruges is so incredibly beautiful and enchanting and....you just need to go there!

 

Walking down Oostmeers Walking down Oostmeers Walking down Oostmeers 


Not a soul in sightNot a soul in sight Not a soul in sight


Still wandering down Oostmeers, enjoying the peace and quietStill wandering down Oostmeers, enjoying the peace and quiet Still wandering down Oostmeers, enjoying the peace and quiet


Nothing better than wandering around here and noticing the details, like the lace curtained windows and the quaint wooden doorsNothing better than wandering around here and noticing the details, like the lace curtained windows and the quaint wooden doors Nothing better than wandering around here and noticing the details, like the lace curtained windows and the quaint wooden doors


I am soooo glad we came here before all the other touristsI am soooo glad we came here before all the other tourists I am soooo glad we came here before all the other tourists


Looking down Zonnekemeers (where do they get these street names??)Looking down Zonnekemeers (where do they get these street names??) Looking down Zonnekemeers (where do they get these street names??)


It's like stepping back in time, everything is so beautifully preserved  It's like stepping back in time, everything is so beautifully preserved It's like stepping back in time, everything is so beautifully preserved  


Every side street - this is Bakkersstraat - is insanely cuteEvery side street - this is Bakkersstraat - is insanely cute Every side street - this is Bakkersstraat - is insanely cute


I mean, look at this! I mean, look at this! I mean, look at this! 


So old, but so prettySo old, but so pretty So old, but so pretty


YOU'VE GOTTA SEE...

SINT-JANSHOSPITAAL
Just down Mariastraat is the oldest hospital in Europe. Though we didn't go in (since it's 7 am and nothing's open), it's still sight to see from the outside. A working hospital for over 800 years, it now houses the Memling Museum that contains a treasure trove of many beautiful paintings.

CHURCH OF OUR LADY
The Onze Lieve Vrouwekerk (try saying that 3 times fast!) was high my list of sites I wanted to see because this is where Michelangelo's famous sculpture Madonna and Child is housed. It's also home to the tombs of Charles the Bold and Mary of Burgundy. Again, since it's 7 am, we missed all the art treasures inside and settled for walking around the exterior and gazing up at its 122-metre tower (the tallest in the city, and the tallest brick tower in Europe). 

 

A house with beautiful overflowing gardensA house with beautiful overflowing gardens A house with beautiful overflowing gardens


Walking around the grounds of the Church of Our Lady, BrugesWalking around the grounds of the Church of Our Lady, Bruges Walking around the grounds of the Old St. John's Hospital (Sint-Janshospitaal)


The tower stands 122.3 metres tall is tallest structure in this medieval city The tower stands 122.3 metres tall is tallest structure in this medieval city You can see the tower of the Church of Our Lady - tower stands 122.3 metres tall is tallest structure in this medieval city 


Wonder where this will bring us...Wonder where this will bring us... Wonder where this will bring us...


Doors to the Sint Janhospitaal - one of the oldest hospitals in Europe, it now houses the Memling Museum, the hospital museum and the old pharmacy. Doors to the Sint Janhospitaal - one of the oldest hospitals in Europe, it now houses the Memling Museum, the hospital museum and the old pharmacy. Doors to the Sint-Janhospitaal - one of the oldest hospitals in Europe, it now houses the Memling Museum, the hospital museum and the old pharmacy


View of Sint Janhospitaal from the bride on Mariastraat View of Sint Janhospitaal from the bride on Mariastraat View of Sint-Janhospitaal from the bridge on Mariastraat 


I can't get over how cute everything is hereI can't get over how cute everything is here I can't get over how cute everything is here


I wonder how much one of these houses go for...?I wonder how much one of these houses go for...? I wonder how much one of these houses go for...?


The popular Gruuthuse Hof restaurant in BrugesThe popular Gruuthuse Hof restaurant in Bruges The popular Gruuthuse Hof restaurant in Bruges


Ah crap, looks like a tour group up ahead...was enjoying having the city all to ourselves!Ah crap, looks like a tour group up ahead...was enjoying having the city all to ourselves! Ah crap, looks like a tour group up ahead...was enjoying having the city all to ourselves!


Maybe we should rent a bike (they're only 6 EUR per hour) to stay ahead of the incoming crowdsMaybe we should rent a bike (they're only 6 EUR per hour) to stay ahead of the incoming crowds Maybe we should rent a bike (they're only 6 EUR per hour) to stay ahead of the incoming crowds


YOU'VE GOTTA SEE...

GROTE MARKT
The central square of Bruges - and the scene of where many interesting things happened in the movie - is called by many names...Market Square, Central Square, De Markt, Grote Markt. Whatever it's really called, it's the heart of the city, and one of the most picturesque. It's here you'll find the Belfort (Belfry Tower), the Provinciaal Hof (Provincial Court) the statue of Pieter De Coninck and Jan Breydel, and the colourful row of guild houses that seem to pop up in every photo of the square. 

 

Finally reached the historic centre - Bruge's Grote Markt, a UNESCO World Heritage SiteFinally reached the historic centre - Bruge's Grote Markt, a UNESCO World Heritage Site Finally reached the historic centre - Bruge's Grote Markt, a UNESCO World Heritage Site


 In the square's centre stands the statue of Jan Breydel and Pieter de Coninck In the square's centre stands the statue of Jan Breydel and Pieter de Coninck  In the square's centre stands the statue of Jan Breydel and Pieter de Coninck


Belfort - the Belfry of Bruges on market squareBelfort - the Belfry of Bruges on market square Belfort - the Belfry of Bruges on market square


Row of colour guild houses on the squareRow of colour guild houses on the square Row of colour guild houses on the square


The Neo Gothic-style Provinciaal Hof (Province Court) in Grote MarktThe Neo Gothic-style Provinciaal Hof (Province Court) in Grote Markt The Neo Gothic-style Provinciaal Hof (Province Court) in Grote Markt


Horse-carriage rides in Grote MarketHorse-carriage rides in Grote Market Horse-carriage rides in Grote Market


Historium - a fairly new museum/experience that brings to life the history of the cityHistorium - a fairly new museum/experience that brings to life the history of the city Historium - a fairly new museum/experience that brings to life the history of the city


Love this colourful row of guilded houses!Love this colourful row of guilded houses! Love this colourful row of guild houses!​


Time for a quick coffee and off to see the rest of BrugesTime for a quick coffee and off to see the rest of Bruges Time for a quick coffee and off to see the rest of Bruges


Maybe I could do with some chocolate too.....Maybe I could do with some chocolate too..... Maybe I could do with some chocolate too.....


Old building after old building, but these gingerbread/candy-looking houses makes you feel like your in a fairytaleOld building after old building, but these gingerbread/candy-looking houses makes you feel like your in a fairytale Old building after old building, but these gingerbread/candy-looking houses makes you feel like your in a fairytale


Every time you walk down a street, you find another building (buildings!) of incredible beautyEvery time you walk down a street, you find another building (buildings!) of incredible beauty Every time you walk down a street, you find another building (buildings!) of incredible beauty


There isn't one spot in Bruges that's not photo-worthy!There isn't one spot in Bruges that's not photo-worthy! There isn't one spot in Bruges that's not photo-worthy!


YOU'VE GOTTA SEE...

CANALS & BRIDGES
Bruges is not called the Venice of the North without a reason. Dominated by tons of picturesque canals and bridges - picture perfect scenery can be found around every corner. It's like a smaller, sweeter, more compact version of Venice or Amsterdam. I'd have to say, that walking along the canals of Bruges (before the crowds) is what you should really come here to do. 

WINDMILLS
I did not do my research very well before travelling to Bruges. In fact, besides seeing the movie, I had no idea what to see. Sometimes this is a good thing because we came across something unexpected - who knew there were windmills in Bruges? Not like a field of them or anything, but there's four to be exact - Bonne Chiere, Sint-Janshuysmill, Nieuwe Papegaai, Koeleweimill - 2 of them are operational and open to the public. It's always nice to be surprised and find something unexpected! 

 

Then, you turn another corner and you get this....Then, you turn another corner and you get this.... Then, you turn another corner and you get this....


And this.......And this....... And this.......


This is just a beautiful place to beThis is just a beautiful place to be This is just a beautiful place to be


Impossible to find one ugly street in this city!Impossible to find one ugly street in this city! Impossible to find one ugly street in this city!


As you can see, Bruges is known as the Venice of the North for a reasonAs you can see, Bruges is known as the Venice of the North for a reason As you can see, Bruges is known as the Venice of the North for a reason


The canals definitely add to the atmosphere and character of this tiny cityThe canals definitely add to the atmosphere and character of this tiny city The canals definitely add to the atmosphere and character of this tiny city


Even on an overcast, dreary day, you can still see the incredible beauty and charm of BrugesEven on an overcast, dreary day, you can still see the incredible beauty and charm of Bruges Even on an overcast, dreary day, you can still see the incredible beauty and charm of Bruges


The houses and bridges along the canals are picture perfectThe houses and bridges along the canals are picture perfect The houses and bridges along the canals are picture perfect


It's like walking on a movie set....everything is too perfectIt's like walking on a movie set....everything is too perfect It's like walking on a movie set....everything is too perfect


No one locks up their bikes here No one locks up their bikes here No one locks up their bikes here 


So peaceful, such an air of tranquility.... I could definitely live in this city - in a house like this!So peaceful, such an air of tranquility.... I could definitely live in this city - in a house like this! So peaceful, such an air of tranquility.... I could definitely live in this city - in a house like this!


Our wandering has taken us to get a glimpse of Grootseminarie (Major Seminary)Our wandering has taken us to get a glimpse of Grootseminarie (Major Seminary) Our wandering has taken us to get a glimpse of Grootseminarie (Major Seminary)


Walking down Peterseliestraat to see the Sint-Janshuysmill (windmill)Walking down Peterseliestraat to see the Sint-Janshuysmill (windmill) Walking down Peterseliestraat to see the Sint-Janshuysmill​ (windmill)


Cute resto - Storme / Veronique - on the corner of Peterseliestraat and Carmersstraat Cute resto - Storme / Veronique - on the corner of Peterseliestraat and Carmersstraat Cute resto - Storme / Veronique - on the corner of Peterseliestraat and Carmersstraat 


View of St Sebastiaan(Kon.Hoofdgilde)vzw - a private archery guildView of St Sebastiaan(Kon.Hoofdgilde)vzw - a private archery guild View of St Sebastiaan(Kon.Hoofdgilde)vzw - a private archery guild


Sint-Janshuysmill - built in 1770 and is still a functional windmill Sint-Janshuysmill - built in 1770 and is still a functional windmill Sint-Janshuysmill - built in 1770 and is still a functional windmill ​


Another of Bruges 4 windmills - KoeleweimillAnother of Bruges 4 windmills - Koeleweimill Another of Bruges 4 windmills - Koeleweimill


Walking along the Kruisvest (canal path)Walking along the Kruisvest (canal path) Walking along the Kruisvest (canal path)


Seems bikes can go anywhere here!Seems bikes can go anywhere here! Seems bikes can go anywhere here!


Back on the streets of the historic centre - I assume this translates to "Bakery"Back on the streets of the historic centre - I assume this translates to "Bakery" Back on the streets of the historic centre - I assume this translates to "Bakery"


A quick peek into some shops, then it's time to head back to the train station - next stop - GHENT!A quick peek into some shops, then it's time to head back to the train station - next stop - GHENT! A quick peek into some shops, then it's time to head back to the train station - next stop - GHENT!


Photos taken | written by JENNIFER MAHON


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Comments

Cookie(non-registered)
Traveled there June 2017 as part of a week's stay in Brussels. Loved it. Just found out about the movie a couple of days ago. I plan on watching it this weekend to pick out the places that I visited. Great blog.
Emily(non-registered)
Can I just say that I love your blog? And I love the title of this one!
Mike(non-registered)
Hahahaha I love that movie too! It looks like a beautiful city and not a sh*thole like the movie prattles on about
Lori C(non-registered)
Amazing Jenn! Your story telling and pictures definitely make me want to go there. Thanks for the virtual trip in the meantime ☺
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