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Bruges [Oct. 3rd, 2006|10:31 pm]
This weekend, to celebrate Hilary having handed in her thesis (almost Dr and Mr Burch...), we headed off to Bruges for a long weekend.

When booking, the 8.35 Eurostar seemed early, but not too bad. When we came to get a train to London at 6.35 to be there in time, I did have to change my mind... Still, we got to Brussels at just gone 12, was in Bruges by half 1, and checked into our hotel at 2, so there are some advantages to starting out early!

hotel was situated just north west of the city centre, and only a 4 minute walk from one of the main squares. It was very friendly, but had some very random decor and furnishings. Bit surprising at first, but we came to like them! After a relaxing swim in the fairly small pool, we headed into town.

Apart from Bruges needing to give up on the hope that it can allow cars in the very centre (and make the streets bike+pedestrian only), the centre is very nice. There are lots of shops, but almost all are nice, with very few tat and tourism shops. True, there were lots of chocolate shops, and a fair few beer shops, but they were nice ones. It's definitely a nice city to visit and wander round.

On the Saturday, we ventured up the main clocktower, and got some fantastic views over the city. The staircase was narrow and largely stone, so we felt like we were in Oxford :) We then had a gentle walk around the south of the city, seeing the canals and churches, before the chocolate museum beckoned us to it. This was actually really interesting, a decent history lesson on coca, south america and colonialism, the spread of drinking chocolate throughout europe, and more. Well worth a trip, and you get free chocolate at the end :)

Sunday, having done most of the walking and church seeing we wanted to do in Bruges (but having skipped a few museums), we got the train back to Brussels. We started looking around the lower town (with the Grand Place, and lots of comics on walls), but found it either too touristy or run down. So, we hopped onto a tour bus, discovered the upper town, and liked it more :)

The tour was interesting (if a bit Leopold heavy), and we got to go up the impressive atomium. The views were good, but it was a shame that not all the atoms were open, and you couldn't walk to the top (only get the lift). It's a very cool and funky structure though. Then we found a very nice and cheap greek restaurant, just round the corner from the station, and finally headed home on the last Eurostar of the day. A fun, but busy weekend!

Oh, and I had my GPS with me, and made some maps. You wouldn't expect anything else though :)