Belgium

From Wikitravel with amendments…

Bruge

Some highlights:

  • Groeninge Museum, Dijver 12, B-8000. 7 days 9:30AM-5PM. Known as ‘The city museum of Fine Arts’, it houses a collection of artworks that span several centuries (14th-20th), focusing mainly on works by painters who lived and worked in Bruges. €8 / €6 (audioguide and ticket Arents House and Forum+ included in the entrance). (51.2061,3.22639)
  • Basilica of the Holy Blood (Heilige Bloed Basiliek), Burg 10. Apr-Sep 9:30AM-11:50AM & 2PM-5:50PM, Oct-Mar 10AM-11:50AM & 2PM-3:50PM. A beautiful church on the Burg square. It houses a relic – a vial of blood that is said to be that of Jesus – and was built in the Gothic style. Try and get there early so you can view the chapel when it is quiet and not filled with tourists. And don’t forget to visit the chapel underneath, in heavy Romanesque style – a contrast to the lovely light Gothic above. Free
  • Onze Lieve Vrouwkerk, Mariastraat. A fascinating church with architecture from the Romanesque and Gothic periods. In the east end of the church are very fine tombs of Charles the Bold and his daughter Mary of Burgundy – in contrasting Gothic and Renaissance styles, despite their superficial similarity. The church also houses one of the few Michelangelo sculptures outside of Italy, the “Madonna with child”. Free.
  • Jerusalem church. In a quiet area of the city, a highly unusual church with octagonal tower built by the Adornes brothers, merchants of Italian extraction. It includes a fine black tournai marble tomb, late Gothic stained glass, and a tiny and rather spooky chapel containing an effigy of the dead Christ. The entrance fee also covers the Lace Museum in the former Adornes mansion
  • The Begijnhof. Also known as the convent, between the centre of the station and the city, with white painted small houses and fine plane trees, is a quiet place to walk – groups are discouraged.
  • Choco-Story Museum, Wijnzakstraat 2 (Sint-Jansplein), 050/61.22.37. 10AM-5PM. This museum is a must see for chocolate enthusiasts as it describes chocolate’s transition from cocoa into chocolate. Its low cost tasty exhibits make it well worth the time. Be sure to stay for the chocolate making exhibition to get some excellent samplers. €5 with Bruges card / €6. (51.2107,3.22625)
  • The Friet Museum, Vlamingstraat (opposite Academiestraat. Check out the world’s only frites (chips) museum which tells the story of the humble potato from South America and how it has evolved into a chip. Don’t forget to try the tastiest chips cooked by the guy who cooked chips for the Belgian Royal Family.

Bruges is visited by a huge number of tourists and it sometimes becomes quite annoying, especially around the Markt and Burg squares. The important thing to remember, however, is that very few tourists venture far away from the main shopping area, so if you want some peace and quiet you should simply explore the many small cobbled streets away from the main squares.

Things to Do…

  • Grote Markt and Belfry Climb, Grote Markt (the big square). 09:30 – 17:00, Closed Mondays. Climb the 366 steps to the top of the 83-metre high tower. Excellent views of the city, Grote Markt and hear the bells ring up close. €6 with Bruges card / €8.
  • Tour boats. It’s essential to take a ride on one of the tour boats around the canals – the multilingual guides provide a potted history of the city in just a few minutes – at only a few Euros, it’s the best introduction to Bruges. A boat tour will show you places which are otherwise unreachable, as not every canal runs next to a street. €6.5.
  • Horse drawn carts, Grote Markt. Carriages can be hired for a romantic 30 minute trip around the old city of Bruge. Carts can carry up to 5 passengers €34
  • Cycle. There are many rental shops near the main square, shop around for the best prices. You can also rent right at the train station and get to the city center quickly; remember to return them by 7:30p. Cycle 5km to Damme, a picturesque village on the river with a windmill and excellent pancackes, and optionally follow on to the coast (another 15km). €7 for an entire day.

Interesting things to buy

  • Chocolate shops — These are plentiful and the standard is always high, so too are the boutique-style beer shops. Plenty of arts and crafts too, with some excellent local artists. A fairly cheap option is Stef’s on Breidelstraat (betweeen Markt and Burg). If you are willing to spend a little more, Chocolatier Van Oost on Wollestraat is a must for high-quality artisinal chocolate. The lacework is risky: if everything sold was produced locally, the entire town would be working in the lace industry! There is a school for lace though, where you can still get “the real thing”.

· Dumon — Stephan Dumon Chocolatier Excellent, very high end chocolate creations. They also make chocolate drinks. Three locations in Bruges. 11 Simon Stevinplein; 6 Eiermarkt; 6 Walstraat

  • Supermarket — For those who do not wish to buy chocolate in the chocolate shops, the local supermarkets also sell a good variety of mass-produced chocolate at fairly low prices. If you don’t want anything more than a sampling of the most famous Belgian beers, supermarkets (not night shops!) are probably your best choice. They even have gift packs with glasses.
  • Times — Most European tourists come for the weekend, so shops are open Tuesday through Sunday, but many shops and museums are closed on Mondays. Be sure to plan ahead.

Belgian Eats

Square with restaurants

Restaurants are not always cheap or wonderful; sad to say that Belgian cuisine is a long way behind French in terms of variety, although mussels and frites or fricadellen, frites with mayonnaise are outstanding here. Stay away from the central market place (“Grote Markt”) and the Burg Square (e.g. the Tom Pouce Restaurant) when eating. Tourists are easy victims here. One tactic used by tourist traps is to present items (e.g. bread) as if they were free with your meal, then charge you exorbitantly for them.

You will, however, find great food if you wander off the beaten track. Find a street with more locals than tourists and ask somebody. The locals will be glad to help.

A lot of places do not open until 1800hrs.

  • Brasserie Forestière, Academiestraat. Nice and calm restaurant, good food, not too expensive. Good menu for vegetarians. Meal of the day (soup, main dish, dessert or coffee/tea) costs € 11 although this is the cheapest menu it has little choice.
  • L’estaminet, at the Astrid Park. Good food, nice terrace, cool bartender. Try the renowned spaghetti for 8 euros or the delicious croque monsieur.
  • La Romagna, Braambergstraat 8. Excellent family-run Italian restaurant and pizzeria. Inexpensive. Good menu for vegetarians.
  • In’t Nieuw Museum, Hooistraat 42, 050331280. Belgian grill restaurant, well off the tourist track. Excellent steaks, reasonable prices.
  • De Botelier, Ezelstraat (close to Sint-Jacobsstraat). always been a favorite restaurant. Very reasonable prices and excellent food.
  • Tom’s Diner, West Gistelhof 23. Fantastic upscale take on satisfying, home cooked food. Prices are reasonable, as well.
  • Kok au Vin, Ezelstraat 19/21. The Kok au Vin was memorable (both the entre AND the restaurant); the prices are reasonable for the high quality. Family owned and run. Reservations recommended.
  • Restaurant Aneth. With only 7 tables, we like to keep it small and cosy, with a personal touch.
  • De Carmelieten. This restaurant belongs to the world’s top 50 best restaurants

Drink

  • De Drie Zintuigen, Westmeers 29, 050-34-09-94. Off the beaten track but not far from all the bars, this lovely restaurant does more than moules et frites. Prices are about 30 euros a head and the atmosphere is nice too.
  • Brewery ‘De Halve Maan’, Walplein 26 8000 Brugge, Belgium, 050 33 26 97,. Apr.-Oct. Mon-Fri, Sat 11-4pm and Sun. 11-5pm. Beer museum which offers a tour of the beer making process as well as tasting and a great view of the city from its tower. The tour lasts for 45 minutes and is a good way to get a feel for Belgian beer making. 5.50 Euro includes beer tasting. (51.2026,3.22416)
  • De Garre, 1, De Garre, 32 50 34 10 29‎. Hidden in a backyard, this pub offers a nice atmosphere and about 100 different kinds of beer, including home-brewed ones. The house beer is called ‘Triple de Garre’ and is 11% strong, a good way to start the night. (51.2085,3.22611)
  • ‘t Brugs Beertje, Kamelstraat. This excellent pub (recommended in the CAMRA guide to the Benelux region) has hundreds of different beers and an authentic beer-cafe atmosphere. The front bar is crowded; what looks like the door through to the restrooms opens on another bar area. In 2005 it was closed for most of July – this might be an annual occurrence.
  • Curiosa, (just off the main square). A good place for a lunch as well as a beer.
  • Art tavern ‘De Kogge’, Braambergstraat (near the fish market). A wonderful place to stop by for a few drinks. This family-run place is amazingly friendly, and with 6 beers on tap, as well as 20 more on offer, it is a great place to sample some beer along with the local crowd. The building was previously owned by the Guildhouse of the Cereal-Carriers (the owners will be happy to fill you in on the specifics!)
  • Vlissinghe tavern, Blekerstrat (on the way to the Jerusalem church). closed Mondays and Tuesdays. One of the less touristy bars, with a nice selection of draught and bottled beers. It’s probably the oldest pub in Bruges dating from 1515.
  • The area just north of the performing arts center has various cafes, most with sufficient beer selections, such as Cafe Leffe.

One Comments Post a Comment
  1. admin says:

    Nightlife in Bruges

    Take in a Belgian ale and a breath of history at Bruges’ oldest pub. The Café Vlissinghe serves a large number of local tipples, and in spite of undergoing some necessary refurbishment since it opened in 1515, it retains its old charm.

    Café Pick in the Eiermarkt is the place to head for a more kicking night out, with a buzzing atmosphere and the same great Belgian beer.

    Café ‘t Brugs Beertjeis justly popular with its homely atmosphere and impressive selection of Belgian beers – it is reputed to have around 300 beers to choose from.

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