In Bruges

This past weekend I had some friends over from London. It was their first visit to Belgium so I planned a little itinerary to try and show them the highlights during their short stay. On Friday evening I collected them from Brussel-zuid railway station, the Eurostar terminal, and we drove the 40 minute drive to Antwerp. Most people don’t realise quite how small Belgium is and that the major cities are close to each other. Driving from my house in Melbourne to the airport is about the same distance as driving from Antwerp to Brussels.

Zonnebloem, Berchem

Saturday was dedicated to sightseeing in Antwerp and we were blessed with glorious weather. I showed them around the old city centre including the Kathedraal (Cathedral), Grote Markt (Town Square), Stadhuis (Town Hall), the amazing Station Antwerpen Centraal (Antwerp Central Station), and I also took them out to Berchem, one of the inner suburbs, to see the famous Cogels-Osylei. This is a street filled with an eclectic mix of mansions built at the beginning of the 20th century when the rich moved out of the centre of Antwerp because it had become dirty and polluted. This street is most noted for its magnificient Art Nouveau houses amongst other neo-styles. If you are interested in architecture this street and the surrounding streets are a must-see!

The 7 Trappist Beers

Saturday evening I took them to one of my favourite restaurants that I frequent very close to my apartment. It is called De Arme Duivel (literally the “Poor Devil”) and serves quite traditional Flemish cuisine and a nice range of Belgian beers. The best dish and the one I usually have is Stoofvlees met frieten. It can best be described as a rich beef stew flavoured with beer and seeded mustard. It comes with excellent thick French fries and mayonnaise and is extremely hearty and delicious. All my visitors get to experience this dish. It is best accompanied by a Trappist beer such as a Westmalle Dubbel or a Chimay.

Sunday the weather was not so good unfortunately as it was raining. Not to be daunted however we set off for Bruges (Brugge) in the western province of West Vlaanderen. This is a famous Belgian tourist destination and is sometimes referred to as the Venice of the North. As the nickname suggests it has beautiful canals and little streets and alleys criss-crossing the old town. The historic city centre is ringed by a large moat and is largely unchanged from centuries ago, part of the reason it is a prominent World Heritage Site of UNESCO. We were lucky enough that by the time we arrived the rain had stopped and the sun even came out. Below are some photos taken as we wandered around.

After our walk, a few souvenir purchases and the obligatory chocolate shopping it was time to take my friends back to Brussels for their return train to London. It had been a very pleasant weekend and I was pleased to have had an opportunity to explore Bruges in depth, something I hadn’t done before as I usually go to Gent, another beautiful Flemish town. I look forward to the next visit so I will have an excuse to explore somewhere else!

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  1. You are a great host. I just give my guests a subway map and a pat on the back.

    • Lol. I do my best. I enjoy explaining all the history that I have researched.

    • paul
    • June 18th, 2010

    Thank you for being an amazing host! Leah & I had such a wonderful time exploring Antwerp & Bruges with you. We will definitely be back, and hopefully soon.

    🙂

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