I fell in love with Brugge (or Burges if you are looking it in English) as soon as we started walking down the street from the train station. The beautiful constructed houses on the canals, some with the dates displayed on the façade, the arched bridges over the numerous canals, and the skyline of gorgeous spires were all enchanting. Our primary focus for visiting Brugge was to take a boat ride through the canals. They are super cheap at only 10 euros a person. They have several different companies, but we used Boottochten Brugge. Our boat driver/tour guide spoke English, even though I’m not sure how many people on board spoke it as well. He was very amusing and pointed out details of the canals that I would not have noticed. The thirty minute tour was a wonderful way to see the city and since we arrived at 10:30 we didn’t wait at all for a boat. However, when we returned there were very long lines at all the companies we passed.
We walked all over town taking pictures of the houses, the canals, the bridges, and just about everything because it was so picturesque. After lunch (mussels!) we wandered to the other side of town to see two of the four windmills that are still standing in Brugge. There is still one left that has been grinding flour since 1770 and you can go in and visit. We missed the opening time, but it was still an awe inspiring sight.
We returned to the center of the city and Jef wanted to check out one of the churches on the square. It is called the Basilica of the Holy Blood. I read about it earlier, but didn’t realize that was where we were headed. While we were inside there was an announcement that they were going to have a veneration that would last for five minutes and you should remain seated. We looked around and took seats in front of the smaller altar. The priest and his helper came out holding a giant vial. It is said to contain drops of the blood of Jesus Christ, which was brought to Brugge in 1149 from the Second Crusade. It is only shown twice a day and we were there to see it. What was even more interesting is that they had all the people seated walk up the steps and look at the vial on their own. We were in that group of about 50 people that were able to examine the blood while the helper (it was a woman so I’m not sure her title) watched us and gave us a pamphlet when we were through. It looked like a cloth stuffed into a large vial with some red staining. It was amazing that we were there at the right time. If you are religious, this is a must see.
If you are in Belgium, you cannot miss a trip to Brugge. It has been the highlight of my time here so far.