The old town lies opposite the railway station at a stone throw distance. Just need to buy a map at the tourist office at the station and you are all set. Walking is my fav mode of transport and one of the best ways to enjoy the sights. At first you are greeted by the lovely canal Minnewater. Minne in Dutch means Love and the name of the canalized lake can be roughly translated to "The Lake of Love". It is because of these beautiful canals that Bruges got the sobriquet 'Venice of the North'.
Swan is a symbol of Bruges and you can see plenty of them in the Minnewater. Legend says that in 1488 the folks of Bruges executed one of their town administrators Pieter Lanchals from the court of Maximillian of Austria. Lanchals’ family coat of arms featured a white swan. Maximillian punished Bruges by obliging the whole population to keep swans on their lakes and canals till eternity. Well, I don't think they mind.
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From a distance the old buildings allure the traveler and smother a cloud of calm and tranquility, which is shortlived in the hustle ad bustle of the tourists. This town is packed with them. A boat ride in these canals is something which u must indulge in. There are various places from where the canal tours originate and the cost is €5/- only. The ride is an easy way to see most of the cities many historic treasures in the form of buildings churches bridges and statues. Its also a good excuse to rest those tired feet. :)
The Burg Square, which is the administrative heart of the city, has the Town Hall and to the right of it is the Chapel of the Holy Blood. The Town Hall contains some beautiful portraits of earler Dukes/Counts and Duchesses/Countesses. The Chapel of Holy Blood is actually a double chapel. The lower part is called the Basilius Chapel and the church on the first floor is the actual Chapel of the Holy Blood. The chapel contains a fragment of cloth stained with what is said to be the coagulated blood of Christ, wiped from his body after the crucifixion. Tradition has it that Count Diederik van den Elzas brought the relic containing the blood of Christ from Jerusalem to Bruges after the second crusade.
Pic - www.brugge.be
The adoration of the relic is at the origin of the internationally famous 'Procession of the Holy Blood' which passes every year on Asuncion day during the month of May through the streets of Bruges (17th May 2007).
The Grote Markt (Market Square) is surrounded by the Belfry on the north, Provincial Court on the west, on the south by lotsa cafes which have a distinctive medieval appearance. In the center is the statue of Jan Breydel and Pieter de Coninck from the 'Battle of the Golden Spurs'.
While in Bruge, do try some of the many beers named after the city - Brugse Tripel, Brugs Blond, Brugs Witbier and Straffe Hendrik and the exquisite chocolates. Well that goes for the entire country I guess. Another speciality is the Lace that you can find in many shops. Its been practiced here for centuries and you can find people working on it. It’s also horribly expensive.
The train journey from Brussels to Bruges has a stop midway at Ghent, which is also a beautiful town like Bruges, no canals though. Train journey from Brussels to Bruges costs €12.5/- for a return journey, with trains plying every hour.
With that ladies and gentlemen, the Wanderer signs off, with a smile and a promise to take you to yet another destination sometime soon. Adios!!