We visited Brugge on a cold, windy day when spring just started. It was a town with two names. Brugge is the Flemish spelling, and as I am living in the Netherlands, that is the name I hear more often. If you are a movie fan, you might know the place as Bruges, the English and French spelling. In Bruges is a brilliant movie, by the way.
It was a shorter a trip than what Ian and I often take because we went with my parents. To think about it, it was the only weekend-away that Ian and I ever did with them. And there was definitely a learning curve.
We drove from Amsterdam to Brugge. If you have ever made a road trip across these two countries, you would know that it is nothing exciting. The Netherlands has mostly the same landscape everywhere: flat fields dotted around water features. The only place that I have seen a bit of variety was the country’s southeastern tip which tucks between Belgium and Germany. We didn’t drive through there and I could feel my parents getting more and more quiet. Soon they were asleep as Belgium didn’t offer much of an improvement. Some parts of Belgium were so bare and boring that I couldn’t cheer up either.
As soon as we got into Brugge, things changed. Small cobbled streets shadowed by medieval buildings. Parents were suddenly awake when we almost reared into another car as the maneuver space narrowed.
We booked an AirBnB flat in the centre of Brugge so as soon as my parents unpacked, we dragged them out.
The sun was shining, but the wind was harsh. After years living in Northern Europe, I still found such weather challenging. Needless to say how my parents fell in their first visit to this part of the world. They were well wrapped up in long coats, scarves, and gloves. They also put on a brave face, but the biting wind made their eyes watering and their nose running.
We managed to visit some chocolate shops, which were all over town, walked the main square where we took some photos with gorgeous buildings being the background, navigated small alleys intertwining with the canal system. We could see people enjoying their party on boats, but I thought that a water cruise wasn’t warm enough for us.
We stopped at the famous tower of Brugge, the plot-changing one in the movie In Brugge. It was way too windy that I didn't have the heart to usher my parents to the top. So Ian decided to visit it later on his own while my parents went back to the flat for a rest.
Besides beautiful buildings, many of which house the guilty-pleasure of chocolate, Brugge is known for its food and drinks. We saw three Michelin star restaurants within 15 minutes walk from our flat. We couldn’t afford to go into any of them, but we still found the most amazing food from an outdoor market. It was French-style baguettes, pate, and cold cut meat. I had one of my best picnics with the food in Brugge.
In the evening, when my parents were tucked in after being fed and warmed up, Ian and I ventured out for some quality alone time. We got into this beer cafe where the menu is as think as a yellow book. Literally!
We were spoiled for choices. Being free of the parents, we had quite a bit to drink but still thought we must come back in the future. There's still the world of beer to explore. In the cold weather, I always find Belgium Trappist the most delicious. There is a great pleasure in sipping its dark, sweet and thick texture in a cosy pub while the wind howls outside.
The visit to that beer cafe wrapped up our short trip to Brugge but my impression of the town was a long lasting one. Is Brugge my favourite city in Belgium yet? Very likely!