Bruges, Belgium / Brugge, België – September 2015

We decided to book a last minute trip to Bruges, Belgium.  I had heard that this place was what fairytales were made of!  Plus we had just watched the movie “In Bruges” and were very excited to see it in person!

We took the train from Paris and walked into town from the train station.

1-arriving in Brugge 2-arriving in Brugge

4-arriving in Brugge 5-arriving in Brugge

This cat seemed like kind of a jerk.  I put my finger up to the window and he swatted at it immediately!  It was too funny.

3-arriving in Brugge-this cat

We had a quick lunch at Marie’s and then went to meet our tour group at the hostel.

6-lunch at Maries

We had booked the free walking tour from Can You Handle It Tours.  Our tour guide was really nice and a lot of fun!  Here we are at Sint-Salvator Cathedral.

7-Sint-Salvator Cathedral

The buildings along the canal look quite lovely.

8-canal 10-canal

14-walking tour

The guide told us that the bridge here was made partially from old headstones from the church.

9-canal-bridge made from headstones

I wanted to take a picture of the Belfry & the hotel from “In Bruges” and the guide laughed and asked if I was taking a picture of her.

11-walking tour 13-walking tour

12-walking tour

This was originally the fish market (and it might still be sometimes).  Today it was just a flea market.

15-walking tour-fish market

This is the Basilica of the Holy Blood.  It is a 12th century chapel which houses a phial containing cloth stained with the actual blood of Christ (or so it is believed).  We would go into the chapel later in our trip.

16-walking tour-basilica of the holy blood

Walking the streets of Bruges.

17-walking tour

Andrew had a beer at the Beer Museum.

18-walking tour-beer museum

123!  The number of our first date 🙂

19-number 23

Later that afternoon, we took a boat tour on the canal.  The boat was very crowded, but it was still nice and a good way to see Bruges from a different angle.

20-boat tour

21-boat tour 22-boat tour

23-boat tour 24-boat tour

25-boat tour 27-boat tour

29-boat tour 28-boat tour

30-boat tour

Why are the windows painted over or filled up with bricks on some of the buildings?  Citizens were issued a property tax based on the number of windows in a house.  They got around the tax by painting over or filling up the windows with bricks.

26-boat tour

The boat tour made us hungry, so we headed back to the waffle truck that we had seen earlier.  Our guide had told us that John served the best waffles in town and that they were always fresh!  They were very good and we ended up going back again before we left town.

31-waffles

32-waffles 33-waffles

34-waffles 35-waffles

This is part of the beer wall at 2be…that’s a lot of beer.

36-beer wall

Hot chocolate on the go!

37-hot chocolate

We liked the chocolates at Chocolaterie de Burg.  I’m sure there might be better chocolates in town, but our guide had told us this was a family business and they still make all of their chocolates by hand.  Always enjoy the dark chocolates with a nice red wine!

38-chocolaterie de burg

Bruges!

39-brugge

This is the ‘t Zand Square Fountain.  It represents various parts of the local culture.

40-fountain 43-fountain

41-fountain 42-fountain

The Belfry towers over the square.  It is not the tallest building in town though – that belongs to Church of Our Lady.

44-belfry

We got some fries, but we could tell they were frozen.  The word was that a lot of the places in town served frozen fries – what a shame!   Our guide told us of a place with fresh fries – we were going to try to find it before we left.

45-fries

23!

46-number 23 47-number 23

We had a great breakfast at our apartment the next morning.  It was a good start to the day.

48-breakfast

Our ride from Flanders Fields Battlefield Daytours picked us up and we were on our way!

49-flanders field day tour

The first stop was at the Langemark German Military Cemetery.  The tombstones could not be white since they were on the losing side of the war.

50-german WWI cemetery

51-german WWI cemetery 52-german WWI cemetery

The Canadian Memorial.

53-canadian memorial

People have found a lot of debris from the war and are finding more still today.  Nathan is showing us an old gun in this photo.

54-day tour

They had a strawberry vending machine at this location.  A guy in our tour group bought some for everyone to share.  The strawberries were very good!

55-strawberries

The next stop was at Tyne Cot Cemetery.  This is the resting place of 11,954 soldiers of the Commonwealth Forces. This is the largest number of burials contained in any Commonwealth cemetery of either the First or Second World War. It is the largest Commonwealth military cemetery in the world.

56-Tyne Cot Cemetery 57-Tyne Cot Cemetery

58-Tyne Cot Cemetery

It is crazy how the clouds look so dreary in one direction and in the other it looks like a perfect day.

59-Tyne Cot Cemetery 60-Tyne Cot Cemetery 61-Tyne Cot Cemetery

This is an old gas mask in the museum at Tyne Cot Cemetery.

62-Tyne Cot Cemetery Museum

Now we are at Passchendaele Museum.  There were so many different types of gas masks.

63-Passchendaele Museum

You could also try on a helmet and coat.  The helmet was very heavy!

64-Passchendaele Museum

Here are some more pictures in the museum.

65-Passchendaele Museum 66-Passchendaele Museum

70-Passchendaele Museum 71-Passchendaele Museum

Ready to enter the Dugout!

67-Passchendaele Museum 68-Passchendaele Museum 69-Passchendaele Museum

Entering the trenches!

72-Passchendaele Museum 73-Passchendaele Museum

74-Passchendaele Museum

75-Passchendaele Museum 76-Passchendaele Museum

77-Passchendaele Museum 78-Passchendaele Museum

This was a piece of art, “Falls the Shadow,” by Helen Pollock is a tribute to the tragic losses of young New Zealand men on the Western Front.  The sculpture was made from clay scraped from the fields of Passchendaele and combined it with clay from New Zealand’s Coromandel region.  So many soldiers lost their lives on these muddy fields.

79-Passchendaele Museum

We made a pit stop at a place where there were WW1 trenches.

80-other ww1 trenches 81-other ww1 trenches

82-other ww1 trenches 84-other ww1 trenches

85-other ww1 trenches 86-other ww1 trenches

87-other ww1 trenches 88-other ww1 trenches

89-other ww1 trenches 90-other ww1 trenches

First gauze masks.

91-other ww1 trenches

WW1 battlefield ‘pigtail’ barbed wire anchor.

92-other ww1 trenches

This guy got out of the fenced area, but Andrew ran him back in.  The punk charged at one of the kids!

94-other ww1 trenches

We made a quick pit-stop for lunch.

96-lunch 97-lunch

95-lunch

Then we went to the Flanders Fields Museum in Ypres.

106-In Flanders Fields Museum

98-In Flanders Fields Museum 99-In Flanders Fields Museum

100-In Flanders Fields Museum 105-In Flanders Fields Museum

These were the soldiers’ uniforms.  From left to right:  United States, Germany, France, and Canada.

101-In Flanders Fields Museum-American 102-In Flanders Fields Museum-German 103-In Flanders Fields Museum-French 104-In Flanders Fields Museum-Canadian

We then headed back to our van.

107-Ypres 108-Ypres

Ypres was a beautiful town.  This is the Menin Gate – a memorial to the missing.  They conduct a Last Post Ceremony here.

109-Ypres

110-Ypres

United States Memorial – 27th & 30th division.

111-USA Memorial

These are craters created from exploded mines.  Today they just look like ponds.  If I remember correctly, the second & third picture is of the Spanbroekmolen Mine Crater.  This was the site of the largest of the 19 mine explosions detonated to signal the start of the Messines phase of Third Ypres, the ‘Pool of Peace’ – Spanbroekmolen – was formed by a 91,000lb ammonal explosion set off at 0310 on 7 June 1917 underneath one of the then highest German front-line positions on Messines Ridge.  The sound of the 19 mine explosions was apparently heard as far away as Dublin, and in Downing Street itself.  It was considered the loudest man made sound until that point.  (some of this information taken from http://www.firstworldwar.com/today/poolofpeace.htm).   Our guide also mentioned that it created a man-made earthquake.

112-crater

113-crater2

114-crater2

Our last stop was at Hill 60.  The Australian & English memorials were also here.

115-area near english and new zealand memorial 117-area near english and australian memorial

116-area near english and australian memorial

118-area near english and australian memorial 119-australian memorial 120-english memorial

I highly recommend this tour.  Our guide, Nathan, was very knowledgeable.

Once we were back in Bruges, we went to 2be for a drink.

121-drinks at 2be_brugse zot and st bernardus tripel

These are some more pictures of the hotel from “In Bruges.”

122-building from In Bruges 123-building from In Bruges

We had dinner that night at Poulet Moules .  Andrew had some mussels, go figure!  Moules is the French word for mussels.  I had a goat cheese salad and soup.  Dinner was very good.

125-dinner at Poulet Moules 126-dinner at Poulet Moules

127-dinner at Poulet Moules

After dinner, we went for a walk around town.

128-evening walk

This is a statue of Papageno in front of Stadsschouwburg Theatre.  Papageno is a bird catcher in Mozart’s opera ‘The Magic Flute’.

129-evening walk

I loved this boat!

130-evening walk

We found the windmills on the outside of town.

131-evening walk 132-evening walk

Bruges is beautiful at night.

133-evening walk

On our last morning, we set off to explore!  I’m posing in front of Gentpoort (Gate of Ghent).  This is one of four remaining medieval city gates in Bruges.  I’m smirking in the second photo because I noticed that some people working on a boat were watching me.

134-morning 135-morning

23!

136-number 23

Our first stop that morning was at De Halve Maan Brewery.  This is the only family brewery in the center of Bruges that is still active.  We took the tour through the brewery.  Our guide was originally from Alaska and had just gotten engaged to her Belgian boyfriend!

137-de halve maan 139-de halve maan

140-de halve maan 141-de halve maan

142-de halve maan 144-de halve maan

143-de halve maan 145-de halve maan 151-de halve maan

The view at the top of the brewery was great!  It is the 3rd highest point in Bruges and would have to serve as our major viewpoint because as we would find out later today we would be too late to go up in the Belfry.  I think we made out pretty good though.

146-de halve maan

147-de halve maan 148-de halve maan 149-de halve maan 150-de halve maan

After the tour we enjoyed our free beer and a little lunch.

152-de halve maan 153-de halve maan 154-de halve maan

We popped into the Church of Our Lady to view Michelangelo’s depiction of the Madonna and Child.  The child is throwing out an “M” symbol so that you know it is Michelangelo’s work.

155-church of our lady 156-church of our lady 157-church of our lady

The inside of the church was beautiful.

158-church of our lady 159-church of our lady

160-church of our lady 161-church of our lady

We then went to The Chocolate Line to try some more chocolates.  We still preferred the ones from the first shop we visited.

162-the chocolate line 164-the chocolate line

163-the chocolate line

To keep with the chocolate theme, we visited Choco-Story.  This is a museum dedicated to everything chocolate.  We learned a lot about the history and at the end we were able to watch a chocolate demonstration complete with a sample!

165-choco story 167-choco story 168-choco story

166-choco story 169-choco story

170-choco story 171-choco story 172-choco story

Coffee shops are just our thing and we hadn’t really been to one in Bruges yet.  We fixed that by visiting Vero Caffe.  Good choice!

173-vero caffe

We made our way back to The Basilica of the Holy Blood.  The third picture is where you get to see the blood.  It was interesting to see and I’m glad to have seen it.  It does make you wonder though, is it really what they claim it is?

174-Basilica of the Holy Blood 175-Basilica of the Holy Blood 176-Basilica of the Holy Blood

We ran over to the Belfry to get in line to climb to the top, only to find out that they were closing down early due to the line.  Damn, I really wanted to climb the 366 steps to the top…I guess this awesome picture will have to do instead.

177-belfry

When in Bruges, have as much beer as you can.  We found our way to De Garre which is still a tourist spot thanks to the internet and guides, but hidden off of the main path.  This place dates back to the 1700s.  Our guide told us that they will only sell you 3 house tripel beers in one setting due to the strength (average 11%).  Each beer is served with cheese.  I had read somewhere that this place made them think of the Prancing Pony from LOTR – that’s cool.

178-road to de garre 179-de garre

180-de garre 181-de garre

Our last stop was at Chez Vincent.  We wanted to have fresh fries before we left Belgium!  This is supposed to be the home of the fry after all.  We did not leave unsatisfied.

182-chez vincent 183-chez vincent

Goodbye, Brugge!  You have been wonderful.

184-goodbye brugge

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