17 May 2008

Bruges, Part One

It was raining in Bruges when we arrived, but despite the weather, I knew almost immediately that I would love this city. Bruges is about a three hour train ride away from Maastricht and when we left in the morning, it was cool, grey, and rainy. The train ride took us through Liege and Brussels and across pretty countryside. We arrived in Bruges around 11 and were greeted by pouring rain which continued as we walked into town.

The main street into Bruges.

The effects of the poor weather quickly went away as we entered the city, which retains a great deal of its medieval heritage. Medieval buildings lined the cobblestone streets and church steeples rose up above the rooflines to be barely visible on the rainy horizon. We stopped for lunch at a sandwich shop for a much needed break and enjoyed panini sandwiches and coffee in the warm eatery away from the rain. After refueling, we headed further into town in search of our hotel, on the way passing through both the Markt and Burg squares, the main, central areas of the city, which are lined with monumental medieval, Gothic buildings.

Town Hall in the Markt square.

The Belfort in the Burg square.

Bruges had already enchanted me, which made the effects of the weather far less than they would have been in a less spectacular place. The hotel was fairly easy to locate and a short walk from the squares, so we checked in, regrouped, and then headed out for some more sightseeing.

The canal that ran next to the hotel, the tan brick building on the right.

The town is home to a working brewery which is apparently pretty well known, at least in Belgium, which we were able to locate after some searching.

Courtyard of the brewery.

We toured the brewery, sampled the beer, and then decided to wander the town until dinner.

View of Bruges from the roof of the brewery.

View of the neighboring Beguinage from the roof of the brewery.

By this time the rain had mostly stopped, and it was grey and cool. We were all tired after a long day of traveling and walking, so we ate dinner, went back to the hotel, and called it a day, excited for more sightseeing in the morning.

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