In Bruges

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Now that summer is over (at least here in rainy London) and school has started, I’ve had a few moments to look back over my photos from the last few months. We went to the US for most of July, spending time with family and friends and driving my car to Target to my heart’s content. Then for the rest of the summer we tooled around London, taking a long weekend in late August to travel to Belgium.

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And let me just say…Bruges is a fairytale town. Our itinerary included two days in Bruges and two in Brussels. But if we had to do it over again, we’d skip Brussels and spend the entire magical weekend in Bruges.

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Why is Bruges so amazing? First of all, it’s entirely walkable. Or bike-able. And if your feet just can’t take one more step, a couple of Euros will buy you a bus pass you can use all day long.

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Secondly, the entire town is encircled and intersected by a series of canals. It’s like Venice but not nearly as touristy and much more charming and clean. Walking along the canals from the hotel to the center of town just made me smile. Water does that to me. Still a Seattle girl at heart, I suppose.

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Thirdly, it was incredibly kid-friendly, from the food (what kid doesn’t like fondue, waffles, french fries and chocolate?!) to the accommodations to the activities, it was all in one place and all lovely.

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Did I mention it is super charming? All the streets are made of ancient cobblestone. Most of the residents  use bikes to get around. There’s not a chain store in sight (except for the staples of every European city: H&M and Zara), the people are friendly, and there are no peddlers trying to sell you selfie sticks at every turn (hello every other Western European city we’ve visited in the last 14 months).

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Did I mention chocolate shops? There was one block in which–quite literally–every other shop was a chocolatier. It made for a very tasty and calorie-laden trip.

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It’s also just plain beautiful. Most of the buildings are several centuries old (it’s the “best preserved” medieval town in Europe) and the architecture is fab.

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Now that I’ve convinced you to go, let me tell you that it’s also just three hours by train from London. If you’ve traveled Europe with kids you know that train rides are vastly preferable to airplanes. No muss, no fuss.

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We did the standard touristy things like carriage rides and chocolate tours. But we also spent much of the time just exploring the city on foot or by bike, taking in the views and stopping for a chocolate-dipped waffle smothered in Chantilly cream. Yes, you read that right.

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It was a favorite for the kids, too, because it wasn’t overwhelming. There was no trouble navigating this tiny town and we didn’t feel we had to rush to see everything as you do in a bigger city like Rome or Paris.

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I’ll say right now that Brussels was not pleasant. It was dirty, smelly, and didn’t feel particularly safe. I’ve never not liked visiting a large European city until I met Brussels. I wish we had stayed in Bruges.

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And so did this little lady, who fell in love with the town as much as I did. “What a beautiful walk, Mom!” and “Can we stay here forever?” were common refrains that weekend.

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And now, back to reality. My two little ones are back at school and I’m back at home, managing my health and their lives as best I can. I want to write more, to tell you about our other amazing trips and give you tips for travel. My small London kitchen isn’t ideal for cooking or photography right now, but I’ll do the best I can with the few recipes I’m working on and hope to bring you soon.

Until then, happy autumn!

Love,

Jenny

Comments

  1. Thank you for the wonderful post. If we ever make it to Belgium, I will make a mental note to put Bruges on our list to visit. I love chocolate and my husband beer so it should be a win win : )

    I know school starting with the early mornings takes time to get use to the swing of things again.

  2. Bruges is great! Did you see the vial of maybe-Christ’s blood? What a bizarre experience.

    We lived in Paris pre-kid and Pittsburgh now and I spend a lot of time whining about how there isn’t any good rail travel here. It’s flying or car trips, both of which are just awful, might as well just stay home!

  3. Prachi Venkat says:

    I couldn’t agree more with you on Bruges! Based on the very famous movie and some grey grey pictures I did not think I’d like Bruges but I loved the town so much! And I concur on Brussels- police sirens kept us up all night at our 14th floor airbnb in the city center. Of the the 3 big cities in North Belgium (Brussels, Ghent and Antwerp) I think it’s actually Ghent that’s a must see. Their historic center is pretty great and the food/chocolate options are simply amazing! I think I’d rank my Belgian experience as Bruges at the top, followed by Ghent and then Antwerp and lastly, Brussels…

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