Apologies for how long this post has been in coming. There’s a case of the mysteriously missing internet in Ilmenau at the moment, so if you see Sherlock Holmes, send him this way.
I’d like to start this post by saying, that like most places, I only wanted to go to Bruges because of a work of fiction – namely the 2008 film In Bruges. I only know where Bruges even is because of the film (It’s in Belgium). However, last weekend Bruges suddenly had a much bigger draw, namely that two of my best friends were going to be there.
They wanted code names in this blog, so say hi to Destiny and Pablo.
Going to Bruges by train from Ilmenau was a trek and half, involving four trains and nine hours. What I learnt was that Germany is really big. Roughly seven hours of the trip was in Germany. Living in the Midlands in England means normally the longest I’m going to travel with in my own country is about four hours, unless I’m trying to take the train to Cornwall or something. It’s really hard to comprehend how big Germany must be. Anyway, after being asked if I spoke French a few times (Answer: no, not at all), I finally made it to Bruges. After Destiny and Pablo met me and took me to the hostel, we spent a couple of hours catching up till we realised it was going on one am and they’d been up since three.
Saturday we had a wander round Bruges, did some shopping, generally caught up on each others lives. Bruges is very beautiful. The buildings all have crenellations and there’s flowers by the canals and it’s all a bit olde wordly, despite the fact that it has all of the shops you could ever want. Also a pasta place that was the best. Takeaway pasta for less than 5 euros that was really really good. Also free cheese. Free cheese will always makes things good.
Happy Destiny and Pablo at the pasta place.
We were going to queue for the Belfry, but the queue was huge, so we went on a jaunt to the Königin Astrid Park, better known to fans of the film as the place with the alcoves. Or nooks and crannies, perhaps that’s a better word. We found no such places. Bang went our assassination plans. Then we went to Raamstraat (another place mentioned in the film) because we’re massive dorks, and it turns out it doesn’t look like it does in the film. But it is very pretty.
There was a reason for them looking grumpy, but I don’t remember it…
Sunday we intended to get to the Belfrey when it opened. Instead the Tour of Flanders began from outside the Belfrey so we ended up at the Church of the Holy Blood first instead. It was beautiful. I think it’s possibly the prettiest church I’ve ever been in. We did not kiss the vial of Jesus’ blood, but we did kiss the frog statue outside in the square. A long standing tradition dating back all the way to 2012. We got some weird looks, especially when Pablo and Destiny made me kiss it again so they could get a picture.
It did not turn into a prince.
After that we went to Belfrey and queued for what felt like forever, but was probably like half an hour. In that time we made friends with some English people, including two OAPs who then managed to walk up the Belfrey without dying at the top, like we did. The Belfrey gets very narrow and low at the top. I mean, seriously. I know in the film it’s played for laughs, but they’re not kidding around. Those tourists never would have got to the top. While we were up there, the bells started going, and played La Bamba. I kid you not.
I have about ten billion photos of the Belfrey.
Post Belfrey we went on a wander, which took us through a market where we got very distracted by shiny things. We eventually ended up at a museum, that we thought was the museum we were looking for. After paying six euros for entry to a museum that was full of mostly dull things and one amusing picture, we realised it was not the museum we were looking for and went on our way. To the cathedral next door. Well, it could have been a church. What’s the difference between a cathedral and a church? Is it like a town and a city and you need a special charter from the queen to be a cathedral? Anyway, musings aside, this cathedral/church/whatever has the only Michelangelo work outside of Italy. It’s a statue of the Madonna and child. It’s alright. Looks like a Renaissance statue of Madonna and child.
After Pablo and Destiny berated me for being a philistine and generally unappreciative of art, we got lunch where we made friends with the guy behind the counter, who informed us that the flag we’d liberated that morning from a fence at the start of the Tour of Flanders, was not the flag of Flanders, but in actuality was the flag of a right wing group who one could equate with the BNP. The flag was very hurriedly thrown in the bin.
We walked to where we thought the chocolate museum was then realised it was actually on the other side of town. So then we walked to where it actually was. Free chocolate is always a plus and it was interesting, but I feel like no chocolate musuem is ever going to live up to Cadbury’s World. Sorry.
The chocolate fairy – the tooth fairy’s arch enemy.
Post this, we went back to the hostel, fell asleep because we are pathetic, and then headed out in search of alcohol. We ended up at an Irish pub, and I have never been so aware of my accent. Well, except for when anyone points out that I’ve said “tuth-brush” not “tooth-brush”.
Bruges at night
Monday we visited vintage shops and had ice cream. Pablo and Destiny had spaghetti ice cream, because Bruges has that. Four for you Bruges. You go, Bruges. And then we left. Headed out on a train to Brussels, where in a mix of German and English I was informed we were sat in first class and we had not paid for first class. And then I did the world’s longest journey* in reverse.
So yes, Bruges. Is very pretty. Take friends (and maybe alcohol.)
*Alright, that might be a slight exaggeration.