Bruges has to be one of the prettiest cities we have ever visited. It is compact enough to wander without the need for Transport. We visited using the Eurostar to Brussels and then by train to Bruges. On arrival at the station there is probably no need to book a taxi if your hotel is in town as you only need to head towards the spires you can see from the station. Travel light as you want to save room to fill your bags with chocolate for the return journey.
There are maps placed around Bruges which makes navigation easy, although they are deceiving as the scale makes the city seem much bigger than it is. You think somewhere is quite a distance only to stumble upon it easily. The belfry, the huge spire in the middle of town where you can climb the 366 steps for a view of the city, makes a good focal point to get your bearings. (we would suggest climbing it before you start on the chocolate, beer or waffles). Our top places in no particular order were:
1. Madam Mim, Hoogstraat 29.
This little shop is filled with vintage treasures beautifully displayed by Madam Mim. It is in a street which has other shops with vintage items but those shops just do not seem to have the same eye for display. The shop is a lesson in how to make vintage look inviting. The carefully curated store includes vintage alongside hand crafted items. We loved browsing the shelves and bought some vintage matchboxes and pretty hand painted handkerchiefs for a euro apiece.
2. The basilica of the Holy Blood.
The 12th-century basilica is tucked away in the corner of Burg square and consists of a lower and upper chapel. The lower chapel is a dark structure that remains virtually unchanged. The venerated relic, a phial said to contain the blood of Christ is in the upper chapel, which was rebuilt in the Gothic style during the 16th century and renovated multiple times during the 19th century. it is not to everyone’s taste but we loved that every surface was decorated and full on OTT. The phial of blood is brought out at cetrain times only and can be viewed by approaching the altar and paying a donation.
3. In Bruges
Despite Colin Farrell’s character hating Bruges in the film, “In Bruges”, the town has taken the film to heart. We spent some time trying to find locations before we realised that if you visit the tourist information centre in the main Markt square, they have a brochure with a map of some of the main locations of the film listed. You can visit these and tick them off on the map. And Instagram away… Every photo is a winner with such quaint houses and streets.
4. Vintage books and paper ephemera at The Old curiosity shop
we stumbled upon a tiny shop in one of the side streets, a real treasure trove of vintage postcards, books and papers. The shopkeeper was lovely and offered to search for a vintage photo album for us from his collection at home if we returned the following day. The shop was stacked to the rafters with old books and cards from victorian era upwards. Sadly the shop seemed badly heated and damp so a lot of the items are getting ruined, this shop appears to be the result of a private collection getting out of hand (we know the feeling). I do hope people buy a lot of this stuff before the damp and cold renders it useless. There are some great paper items for scrap booking or crafts and photographs that deserve to be saved.