There is a lot to love about Bruges so it was a little difficult to pick just five things … so here goes. It starts with chocolate! The medieval city is pretty much surrounded by water and, who knew, it has lots of lovely chocolate shops. You can smell the sweet aroma as it hits your nostrils from the street. The Chocolate Line is legendary and probably my favorite chocolate shop! For a small price you can sample anything in the store … usually means picking out a minimum of 3 pieces. You quickly get your chocolate buzz on just walking in a few shops! I think we bought a box in every store we entered. My only regret … not bringing two backpacks for the plane ride home; one to fill with cheese from Holland and the other for Belgian chocolate from Bruges.
Second on my list was Michelangelo’s Madonna and Child housed in the Church of Our Lady. The beautiful marble sculpture is said to be the only Michelangelo statute to leave Italy in his lifetime. It is the same sculpture depicted in the book and movie “The Monument Men,” stolen by the Nazi’s during World War II. It was eventually found and returned. There is a small fee to view the part of the church where the statute rests.
Then there were the lovely surprises like a delightful older gentlemen and his organ. We actually managed to get a video of our encounter but unfortunately we can only run it sideways. When I put a few coins in his cup, I was invited to turn the crank on his organ. The jolly guy put his derby on my head and before I turned over the crank to someone else kissed me on the cheek! We also admired things like an amazing old chest with intricate locking mechanism on the underside of the lid in the Church of Our Lady. Then there was the Caprese Salad that was out of this world! Coming across an old well that probably supplied water to the area for hundreds of years was another surprise.
We stayed at the Heritage Hotel which is located in the center of the city a block from the Markt. A 4-star hotel with fine dining restaurant made our stay complete. Our last evening we sprang for a three-course meal with wine pairings in the hotel’s restaurant Le Mystique. Between each course the chef prepared a “amuse bouche,” which is a little bite of food to amuse and invigorate the palate. The meal lasted for three hours and was the perfect way to end our vacation!
Last on my list of things to love about Bruges was the canal boat ride. Located in middle of the city, the reasonably priced canal ride lasts about 45 minutes. The motor boat holds about 20 people and the captain points out interesting sites. I can’t tell you how many times we got lost or turned around walking around Bruges. It was nice to get a different perspective.