Friday, March 17, 2017

Solo in Bruges

From Paris, Belgium was only an hour away on the train. I changed trains in Brussels and traveled for another hour to get to Bruges.

In that hour from Brussels to Bruges, I left the French language behind! Belgium is a bilingual country. They speak French in Brussels, but Dutch in Bruges. It's a very adventurous feeling to go somewhere alone you've never been before without being able to understand a word of what's going on. I have to say for me it's a good feeling, but I don't know if it would be for everyone!

As much as I love Paris, it felt so good to be out of the big city and in a small, quiet town. Everything was so clean and there were no crowds anywhere. I love big cities but I can appreciate small towns too. As long as the small town is as adorable as Bruges!

I walked to my hotel dragging my suitcase over the cobblestones. #typicaleuropeprobs

After checking in I set out to explore. The only thing I researched and planned on seeing was the Madonna of Bruges- a Michelangelo sculpture (one of the only ones found outside of Italy) in the Church of Our Lady. I learned about it from the movie Monuments Men- which, fun fact, I saw on my first date with David.

With that in mind I walked towards some church spires. My first try was the wrong church. It turns out there are a lot of churches in Bruges.

The second try was a success! 

Near the church I also saw the first canal of the day- something Bruges is known for.

I had nothing else planned, so I just wandered around town.

Eventually I made it to the Market Square, the center of the city.

It was all so beautiful! It didn't look real. I was on such a Europe high.  I wandered for another hour or two, but called it a night early. It had been a pretty exhausting week of sightseeing in Paris, Milan, Cannes, and Nice.

I still had the next morning to walk around before my flight home. After starting out the morning right with a Belgian waffle, I walked in search of more canals.

My favorite place I came across was Burg Square. The fancy building below is the town hall.

Unfortunately it was raining and I was getting cold. I had no choice but to warm myself up with shopping and hot chocolate.

For a small town, Bruges had excellent shopping. I wasn't planning on indulging after already doing some shopping in Paris and Nice that week, but I really couldn't help it. I 100% blame the rain.

At some point I passed this store that claimed to have the best hot chocolate. I couldn't say no to trying it. French chocolate is good. German chocolate is good. Swiss chocolate is really good. But Belgian chocolate is amazing!!

Around noon, I caught a train to back to Brussels to get to the airport and fly home. There was some kind of problem with the train and all of the announcements about it were only in Dutch. I had to ask if anyone spoke English and could translate for me. Thankfully, everyone on the train was so nice! They all helped me and even looked things up on their phones for me to find a different train.

I have to say, I would be very surprised to see people going above and beyond to help a foreigner in France. It's funny to see how cultures change even when 2 countries are so close to each other. It was also funny to me that everyone spoke much better English than French! It seemed kind of like Switzerland- sometimes in multilingual countries, the common language between people is English.

I made it to the airport and was back on the French Riviera in about an hour (and an only $50 flight). That's why it's good to take advantage of being able to travel this year when it's cheap and easy. I'm trying to get my fill of Europe so I don't have too much withdrawal next year. Who am I kidding, that's probably not possible.

Bruges exceeded my expectations; I loved it! I would totally live there despite the gloomy weather. 

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