Bruges

One of my favourite European cities, Bruges is a wonderfully preserved snapshot of the Golden Period from the 12th to 15th centuries, when it was one of the most important cities in the world. It is often called the Venice of the North, though I found it far more of a living city, versus a tourist attraction, than it’s Italian cousin.

Like Venice the city has canals, offering perfect reflections on cold mornings in March 2009, when I visited for the second time. My first time was as a child, of which my main memory was eating huge amounts of sliced cheese at the breakfast buffet…

The centre of town is the Markt, home to the famous Belfry, with sweeping panoramic views from the top of the tower. I’ve never thought it of the same way since seeing the film In Bruges though…

Nearby are the neighbouring Bruges City Hall (Stadhuis) and ornate Basilica of the Holy Blood (Heilig Bloed Basiliek).

The most enjoyable activity though is just wandering around on foot soaking in the atmosphere and beautiful buildings.

It is also a great place to hire a bike (despite the cobbled streets). I cycled out 7km along a picture perfect canal to Damme Onze Lieve Vrouwekerk, home to an impressive church, passing by a couple of windmills.

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