Bruges, a Medieval Disneyland?

Bruges, a Medieval Disneyland?

BRUGGE, Belgium | The city was silent except for the faint sound of crimson leaves rustling in the breeze. The car door slammed shut causing the car to tremble, interrupting my morning fatigue. As I slid into the passenger seat I noticed I was feeling apprehensive about our weekend away; I had heard mixed reviews about Brugge (Bruges). 

The French call Brugge the “Venice of the North”, and for good reason; the picturesque cobble stoned streets are adorned with canals, the smell of warm chocolate linger in the air and horse-driven carriages tour circuits of the streets. Brugge is undoubtedly charming and everybody knows it. It is for this reason that Brugge has received the criticism of being labelled a ‘Medieval Disneyland.’

We arrived to Brugge on Friday afternoon. Despite the occasional tourist, we found the small town to be romantic. Swans drifted sleepily across the canals and the smells of sugar made our mouths crave waffles. Originally, I didn’t understand where these criticisms originated from, then we visited Brugge the subsequent morning. Tourist buses and trains spilled out with visitors like a drop of ink into a glass of water. They took photos, drank beer, devoured chocolate and enjoyed the quaint scenery. Just like us. 

Towards the end of our stay we pondered, did the number of visitors in Brugge diminish our experience? The answer is no. 

The Eiffel Tower in Paris hosts over 7,000,000 visitors annually however tourists continue to flock to this monument every year in contrast to the 3,000,000 people who visit in Brugge. Why? Because it is beautiful and it is worth seeing. 

Rather than scold our fellow tourists, I empower individuals to take responsibility for their own travel experiences. To enjoy a quieter or more authentic experience, visit Brugge off-season and during the week. Explore the winding streets away from the crowds, find a small pub and start a conversation with a local, have a picnic along the canals and lose yourself in this beautiful town. 

Do not let the criticisms deter you, Brugge is charming and well worth exploring, but it’s up to you to create your own experience. 

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STAY |  When we arrived at Hotel Lodewijk Van Male I was smitten! The hotel is a romantic chateau on the grounds of a beautiful garden surrounded by sweeping trees, roses and swans. The rooms are clean, a generous size and a complimentary breakfast is offered with the price. Although it is a five-minute drive out of Brugge, I would love to indulge in this romantic treat again! 

EAT | I adore dark chocolate though I am very particular when it comes to the quality. We tasted chocolate from a few different chocolate shops in Brugge however we found that The Chocolate Line was by far the best! The chef, Dominique Persoone, is a chocolate culinary artist and an award winning author of the “The Chocolate Route”.

Each piece of chocolate was exquisite, my favorite however was the ‘Skull’. With your first bite your teeth crunch into delicate hazelnut praline, as you proceed to the back of the skull a red jelly perfumed with violet is revealed. Devouring this delicious treat felt like I was a giant enjoying tiny cocoa skulls!

The Chocolate Line | Simon Stevinplein 19, 8000 Brugge. 

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DRINK | He gently placed the frothy beer onto the table where a trail of white bubbles oozed down from the side of glass. After paying in euros, thanking him in Dutch (“dank je”) I quietly whispered, requesting for an address of a local bar. Peering around cautiously he scribbled a name on the back of a coaster: “t Poatersgat” with the vague instruction of ‘small door’ and no address. Can you find this local gem?

bruges, belgium | moi petite

bruges, belgium | moi petite

bruges, belgium | moi petite

bruges, belgium | moi petite

bruges, belgium | moi petite

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