Sunday, July 10, 2011

Bruges

As most of you would agree, taking a break from the routine every now and then helps a lot. A vacation is very essential, in the sense that, it is not just a break from the routine, but that it really gives more time to relax ourselves and rejuvenates us to be more efficient after the break. For these and more, I cherish vacations a lot.

Last month, during one of the long weekends, we decided to go somewhere on a relaxed trip. We joined with one of our friends - another couple and we four set out to Belgium. This is just a small account of the wonderful memories we had there.

The Belfry Tower at the Marketplace, Bruges

On a fine saturday morning, we started our trip by car, quite relaxed. Taking enough breaks, we finally arrived at Bruges (Brügge - German, Brugges - Dutch), our destination around 15:30. After checking into our hotel and freshening up, we set out for an evening stroll.



Bruges is a small ancient historical town located in the north western Flemish region of Belgium. With many narrow streets, studded with artfully built little houses and old buildings, it was hardly a ten minutes walk to the market place at the city centre. The market place was surrounded by historical buildings, built with a unique European flair. There were lots of cafes lining up the streets near the market place. They were not named Cafes like in Germany, rather called as Tea Rooms. I guess, the locals liked to drink tea more than coffee. We seated ourselves in a nice tea room. The hospitalilty was super genial. Except me, everyone ordered Waffles, yes, the famous Belgian Waffles. I kept just drooling at those (as I'm allergic to eggs), when my husband was describing how light, soft yet tasty they were. We further walked down the city, through the narrow lanes, across the beautiful canals and enjoyed the evening hour sight seeing. The city is sometimes referred to as 'the Venice of the North', credits to the cute little canals.

The Canals in Bruges

The next morning started with a fulfilling breakfast at our hotel. Then we all set out to visit the Choco Museum. Didn't I not point out yet what Belgium is famous for? Yeah, you guessed it right. Pralines!!  Not just that. Belgium is also famous for their Waffles, hundreds of varieties of Beer (for Beer lovers), French fries and many more. Ok, let me come to the Choco Story. This is a chocolate museum and it was a few footsteps away from our hotel. There was an impressive collection, depicting the history and origin of Chocolates right from the Aztec Civilization; how cocoa was first discovered, consumed and how the modern day chocolates evolved. It was a wonderful journey through the museum and as a highlight, at the end, you get a demo of chocolate production from an expert and a little praline to taste too. I must admit, wowwww it tasted gorgeous and just melted in our mouths. We came out of the little museum with happy faces. :)

Chocolate figures in Choco Story Museum, Bruges

We continued our journey through the city. Bruges has a Dutch speaking community. We were glad for the fact that, Dutch has a lot of similarities to German(Deutsch). We could easily understand sign boards, food on the menu card, street names, etc. Altogether, it was an interesting guessing game with the languages. My friend's husband had Birthday on that day and so, he treated us for lunch in a cozy, artfully designed restaurant. I had a bowl of Penne pesto and a large glass of flavored iced tea. Why pasta? Though the city offered a wide range of culinary options, after applying all my constraints and filtering, I finally end up in Italian pasta only. But, it tasted real good. My friend's husband wanted to try Mussels there once, but sad that he missed it.

Madonna and the Child at the Church of Our Lady, Bruges

After lunch, we purchased some souvenirs and Pralines to take home. Apart from the array of chocolate shops and beer shops, I also found a lot of Tapestry shops and a few notable diamond shops. Later on the day, we visited the 'Church of Our Lady', which houses the famous Michaelangelo's 'Madonna and the Child'. Then, we visited the 'Begijnhof', a closed community dwelling, where the Beguines (sisters of the ancient Roman Catholic Church) lived together, sponsored by the rich benefactors of the city in the past. It was a serene experience just walking through the colonies and the park surrounding the Begijnhof.

The Lake of Love, Bruges

After all these walking, we were dog tired when we returned to the hotel. It was not yet dusk and we were really hesitant if we should continue our sight seeing or just retire for the day. After a small break, out of some intuition, we just started off again in car. We travelled to a nearby village called 'Damme'. The travel by car along the canals and green fields was very relaxing and we found that it was a good decision to have made the extra effort. Damme is just a scenic beauty. The cool breeze, the picturesque surroundings, the greenery and cattle made us jump with joy. We got some of our precious clicks there.

Damme, near Bruges

The third day, we bid goodbye to Bruges and returned home. On our way back, we took a break for lunch in Brussels, the capital city. There we made a brief visit to the European Commission building, the executive body of the Europen Union, only to find that it was closed for the holiday. Later we took a break for coffee in Leuven, another charming little town in Belgium, but in the French speaking area. It was almost 11pm when we reached home.

Pralines from Bruges

Dear readers, thank you so much, if you have patiently read till this line. I am glad that I could give a complete(yet trying to be precise) account of the things I saw, experienced and enjoyed. If you feel like you travelled along with me, then please feel free to leave me a line with your comments or critics. It would encourage me to write more notes like this or even better ones in the future. :-) Ciao!!

14 comments :

  1. lovely account of the quaint looking town ! the chocolate figurines had me hooked- nice write-up !and glad you have come back refreshed & rejuvenated !

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  2. soo pretty the pics are. I was told bruges was a pretty boring place by some friends who visited recently. that there was nuthing much to do and see. I guess they dint see the beauty of it all..you have managed 2 capture it all so well.

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  3. What an interesting article... we were at this Marketplace in Bruges about ten years ago and I still remember the flower shops,chocolates and open air cafe where we had some Flemish Stew.. it is a very calm and peaceful place.

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  4. Wow! Those figures are made out of chocolate, that's amazing. Luckily I had tasted these Belgium chocolates before, they are sinful isn'it?
    Looks like you had a great time and yeah we enjoyed the trip virtually through your writing :)

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  5. Endlich, dein Travel Post. Sehr gut geschrieben.Als ich lese, habe ich dieses
    Gefühl dass ich auch dahin war.

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  6. Would love to travel with u in the real sense sometime...inshallah ;) a wonderful trip indeed it was.."

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  7. @all,

    thank you all for your lovely comments.

    @Ayeesha and Priya,
    there were a lot many other huge figures too made fully out of chocolate. I really wonder how they maintain these choco sculptures...

    @Malli,
    am glad I refreshed your sweet memories..

    @Nisha,
    well, what shall I say? Opinions differ!! And for those who are looking for some action packed vacation, Bruges is definitely not the place. :p Thanks for your complements. :)

    @Reshmi,
    sure insha Allah we shall make a trip together.. Ich freue mich darauf. :-)

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  8. looks like a lovely trip...Could not believe those figures are made out of chocolate...but the last pic serves for it :) glad to know you had a nice time...

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  9. I know whta u mean...Just back from my vacation & feeling all rejuvenated!!! And thank u for ur comment on choco mint ice cream..If u cant get hold of mint, go ahead and make plain vanilla icecream or u may add only the choco chip & skip the polo...The recipe for vanilla ice cream too is given in the same recipe..Ice creams are quite easy to make..Yes, do give it a try & Good luck dear!!!
    Prathima Rao
    Prats Corner

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  10. Can't take my eyes off the picturesque canals, bridges, medieval buildings and the charming appeal. Sigh. You are one lucky person to have experienced such beauty firsthand! You see, I'm a huge fan of Belgian waffles and chocolates too, never miss an opportunity to have it here. Your description makes me wanna travel to Belgium soon, ahh.

    Btw, the lake of love pic is a stunner!

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  11. beautiful pictures I love the canal and lake view looks like a place to be :)
    first time in your lovely site

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  12. beautiful pictures - wonderful things to share - thanks dear!

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  13. Brugges was the first trip i went with my son who was then 7 months old. Brought back memories...Its indeed a very nice place, calm and serene.

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