Seen at The Festival of the Tree

...if you would be happy all your life, plant a garden - Chinese proverb

Monday, 16 March 2009

In Bruges *


Bruges (or Brugge as the residents prefer) is a beautiful city - postcards don't do it justice, never mind the couple of hundred snaps I took of it whilst we were there. It's the first time ever NAH has arranged a holiday for us, so that also added to my positive view of the place, plus he chose this hotel, so I'm feeling thoroughly spoilt and pampered.

It's a perfectly preserved medieval city - the prosperous times were in the 12th-14th centuries and the residents were so rich, they could afford to build most of their houses in stone. This has helped in its preservation. After that, the city went into relative decline and whilst its 'ownership' changed hands a few times, there wasn't enough importance attached to Bruges to either build it up further or to totally destroy it during various wars. Now the Belgians are fiercely proud of their heritage and we spent a couple of hours in the company of a delightful octogenarian who told us the story of his city. It's a World Heritage site now and was also European city of culture in 2002, so we benefitted from the major sprucing up which has taken place to achieve these awards.

The collage (click to enlarge if needed) gives a small sample of the sights to see - I was equally enamoured of the small details on the buildings as well as the overall architecture of the place - gold highlights, little friezes on the walls giving clues to what the buildings were originally used for, Madonna statuettes presiding over pretty well every street corner, even the drain covers are up market.

Of course every visit to Bruges needs a boat trip round the canals - it should take half an hour, but our guide spent over an hour with us pointing out tiny little features and details. We also took the circular walk around the outside edge of the Medieval part of the city - hence the views of more workmanlike barges, windmills and one of the city gates (bottom left). We also found time to sample all the things Belgium is famous for - chips, chocolate, waffles and beer!

I'll be returning to Bruges tomorrow - on a more plant related theme this time.

* = I think this film may have influenced NAH's choice of where to whisk me off to.

PS I also fell in love with St Pancras Station - there's a slideshow here if you're interested.

20 comments:

  1. What a beautiful place! Thanks for the tour!

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  2. Himself took me to Bruge years ago - and it threw it down all weekend!

    Sounds like you had a great time though. You deserved a break, you work so hard on all your posts and stuff, never mind what you do the rest of the time!

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  3. VP .. we visited Brugge a number of times each of the four years we lived in Holland .. we never left without chocolates from the gorgeous shops .. or from tours that we simply amazing each and every time. Relatives from Canada were thoroughly impressed .. one of our favorite cities indeed .. and no , the postcards don't do it justice ! : ) Joy

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  4. He made a wonderful choice VP! How romantic to visit a modern medieval city....I know the gardens must be fantastic~~gail

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  5. very nice! was the dog in the hotel advert present when you were?

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  6. I've only passed through but looks delightful and a lovely trip.

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  7. Tatyana - glad you enjoyed it!

    Nutty Gnome - we were so lucky with the weather and yes, I was glad of the break.

    Joy - mmm all that chocolate. There's a chocolate museum there now, so you can see how the handmade chocolates are made :)

    Gail - he made a very good choice. We went to Amsterdam for our honeymoon, so he was carrying on with the theme of visiting canalside cities for our important occasions!

    Petoskystone - yes the dog was there and was extremely friendly. It's a family run hotel too, so there were lots of nice touches and personal service.

    Hermes - yes it was lovely and just what we needed :)

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  8. I was last there with a client in May 2006. Makes me want to go back!

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  9. A lovely spot for a special celebration. We were last there in December 2007, but sadly I came down with the dreaded norovirus before I could buy my chocolate supply :( Himself had to make the ultimate sacrifice and miss a televised Liverpool v Manchester Utd. match to wipe my fevered brow. Enjoyed your photos. There is a lovely little cafe by that windmill :)

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  10. Watcha VP - brilliant choice for a trip - I've been to Brugge twice now for the Chistmas markets - magic. Except I've never seen it with a blue sky, so thanks for the lovely images!

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  11. Oooh.. I'm very jealous. THat hotel looks fab! I went with some girl friends years back and remember chocolates, waterzooi, and doing the terribly tourist trip round the town in a horse drawn carriage.

    The film 'In Bruges' was my favourite from last year too.

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  12. I've been to Bruges only once, as a day trip from Brussels about 20 years ago. I was so charmed. I'm glad you enjoyed your holiday there.

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  13. I visited Brugge about 11 years ago - I was 18 and with the daughter of a friend of the family, so not quite so romantic and it was a day trip so no lovely hotel :( But it was fabulous and thanks for the photos. P.S. Well done the NAH.
    Happiness is Beligian Chocolte shaped!!!

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  14. Glad you had a wonderful time, VP. We went there around 13 years ago, and the one thing that really sticks in my mind was the huge nember of daffodils in a square near a nunnery. It was amazing. as was the chocolate.

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  15. I like Bruges too, despite the fact that it poured with rain the last time I was there. We spent all our time in steamy cafes eating moules frites, I seem to remember. Don't you just love Eurostar? An hour or so on the train and you're Abroad. Fantastic!

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  16. Bruges is a wonderful place to visit, and I have no hesitation in recommending it! I'm therefore not surprised that you liked it so much! xx

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  17. Eurostar is great and I do agree that trains are wonderful for being nosy and peering into peoples back gardens. I love it. We went to Switzerland on a rail tour last year. They love their veg gardens. We didn't see one garden with a weed in it. We decided that there must be a bye law banning weeds. I think there's one that states 'you must not be seen in a dirty car' as well. Their public planting is good too We were there in June so can I use those next time?

    I was in London yesterday and as a good VP reader took my camera with me. Not the swanky new one I bought to take to Africa, but my older small and less obtrusive one. Fortunately there wasn't much worthy of photographing as my batteries needed changing! Clearly there was something to take or I wouldn't have discovered this - it was Tete a Tete carpeting underneath some silver birch in Hyde Park. Possibly a bit trite but beautiful nonetheless.I walked to Oxford Street - not much public planting there but I needed a basic white T shirt from M & S - very boring but essential.

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  18. Hi everyone - thanks for all your comments. Yes NAH did very well and we had a lovely time. I've enjoyed putting together the various collages and slideshows to show it all off to you as well.

    Helen - some people get some very good things to do through their work!

    Anna - that's a shame, but sounds lik eyou have a perfect excuse for a revisit

    Claire - I'm very tempted to go back for the ice festival and Christmas Markets

    Arabella - isn't In Bruges great. Didn't try the waterzooi, but did try the rabbit and the beef stew. Both were yummy :)

    MMD - thank you!

    HM - I think we were too early for the daffodils this year, but I saw loads of crocuses

    Victoria - I adore Eurostar, you really feel like you're off on an adventure!

    Flighty - I loved it!

    Maggi - of course you can show your Swiss pics in June - I can't wait! Would you believe NAH bought something from C&A in Bruges? We were bemoaning the fact they're no longer in the UK and that had been the main reason for his failure to find a suitable summer jacket. And the very next day there was C&A complete with the perfect summer jacket!

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  19. We loved Brugge, and would willingly visit again. So much to see, but so little time in just a weekend. We found the people to be friendly, and also found the cafes off the square to be much cheaper! x

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  20. Hi LOuise - we had a very similar experience - love it :)

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