Bruges (Brugge), Belgium
Being an au pair for 3 energetic boys can be exhausting work. So when a free weekend became available, I jumped at the chance to visit the small country of Belgium, just a short train ride from my home base in the Netherlands. After spending the day in the hustle and bustle of the capital city, I was ready for the quiet charm of Bruges, Belgium. A tiny medieval city located in eastern Belgium not far from the North Sea coast. Only a 45 minute train ride from Brussels, it is the perfect little side trip.
I arrived in the late evening. I took a bus into the city center which is not far from the train station. Immediately you can’t help but fall in love with this romantic city. It’s like taking a step back in time. Lighted bridges cross over numerous canals that crisscrossed through the cobblestone streets. Now I know why the call Bruges the Venice of Northern Europe.
Being a young traveler on a budget, I decided that a hostel would be perfect accommodation for my short stay. There are a few hostels in Bruges, and I chose the Bauhaus Hostel located in the city center (check out www.bauhaus.be
for more info and to make reservations). The hostel has lots of character with a helpful staff. They have a restaurant and cool bar on the bottom floor. Make sure to sample some of the many Belgian beers, especially the cherry beer. The hostel has lots of room choices ranging in different prices, but definitely affordable. Overall the rooms were very clean and they provided all the linens. I picked the most budget friendly option: a 10 person coed dorm. I was a bit nervous sharing a room with 9 strangers, but it was well worth it. I made some great friends from all over the world, and we spent the whole night just chatting.
The next morning, I ate a complimentary breakfast at the hostel, and then I was on my way to explore Bruges. Basically, you can walk wherever you need to go and that’s exactly what I did. I wandered around through the cobblestone streets stopping to see some popular sights. A must see is the Belfort. It is a tower located in the heart of market square. You can climb the 366 steps all the way to the top to see great views of Bruges. There are also a few museums and churches worth seeing. You’ll love seeing the many swans swimming through the canals. And if you go in late spring, they’ll have their babies trailing behind.
I highly recommend visiting Bruges. Its location makes it a great stop off on the way to London, Paris, or Amsterdam and it’s a great day trip from any Belgian city. This Unesco World Heritage city if not to be missed!
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