Picture yourself in 1470 AD. You are dressed in a beautiful fur-trimmed magenta burgundian gown, hair pulled back in an embroidered hennin and covered by a short veil. You and your husband – who is dressed in a long gown with high collars and beaver-fur hat, are at the Markt Square waiting for the horse carriage to arrive to take you home. The marketplace is noisy with people chattering loudly as it is the one open area in the town where people can meet, greet and exchange information. You hear the Belfry ringing and realize that it is half past 5, time for supper. The weather is good today and its warm with pleasant wind blowing. You are happy as you were able to haggle and purchase an ell of cloth to be stitched into a gown for a reasonable price. Your husband is happy looking at you smile…
Now jump to 2016 AD and picture yourself in a similar setting. You are dressed in a beautiful magenta and black maxi dress, with your hair left messy and open. You and your husband – who is dressed in his favorite jeans, t-shirt and sun glasses, are walking to the Markt Sqaure for a brunch of waffles topped with delicious strawberries and Belgian chocolate. You see horse carriages all around, giving city tour to the tourists. Vendors have parked vans and opened up stalls which sell fresh garden produce. You buy half kilogram of scrumptious cherries and a box of strawberries for 5 Euros for later consumption. The beautiful chimes of the Belfort are filling the space around you. You decide to take a boat ride on the beautiful canal and the tour guide calls you Bollywood. You laugh at his jokes, learn more about the city, get mesmerized by the well preserved architecture and hidden alley ways and have a surprisingly good time. You walk around on the cobble stone roads a bit more, get inside one of the billion chocolate shops to buy some delicate truffles and dark chocolate bars. You reach the Belfort and are wondering how would this place look from top. So you buy the tickets and climb 500 narrow, winding stairs to get the most amazing view you have ever seen. Since the Belfort chimes every 15 minutes you wait for the bells to chime again, and experience the loud music live. You go to one of the numerous cafes for lunch of pasta and Belgian beer, quietly sitting and soaking the glamour of the whole place in. The vendors have packed and gone by now and whole square if filled by tourists and locals going about their lives. Since its your anniversary week, your husband has promised to buy you a dress. After lunch you go to one of the designer showrooms and buy the most beautiful blue skirt ever. You are happy and your husband is happy looking at you smile. Then you decide to rent a cycle and experience the rest of the city riding. The rental shop owner is very friendly and trusting. He gives you cycles without any deposit for rest of the day. You ride inside hidden alleys and along small houses and get a high like never before. You stop at the Vismarkt to check out the various trinket sellers and you can’t help yourself from buying a gorgeous watercolor painting of the city. While taking a break from cycling you sit on one of the benches near the canal, take out our cherries and strawberries and devour them. You see the boat tours going by and remember your tour from the morning and smile to yourself thinking that was great. You spend rest of your evening cycling, and then return the bikes. You thank the owner for his generosity and head back to the room to freshen-up. You decide to come back later, when the day tourists were gone so that you can get a peaceful walk in the silent city. Evening walks to the Markt Square are better and calmer and even more beautiful. The sun is descending now. You have dinner at a café and a post dinner dessert of the tastiest waffle with sugar topping. The continuous and beautiful chimes of the Belfort is filling the city space. Post dinner you decide to walk more and discover a pub with a Foosball table. After a few rounds of Belgian beer, a few games of Foosball and a content heart you decide to walk towards the canal for one last view and then head to the room to call it a day.
Our experience at Bruges was extraordinary and we fell in love with what the city had to offer us. Be it the old houses built in 1600’s or the canals with swans happily swimming and going about their lives or the billion chocolate shops and amazing waffles. A day trip to Bruges is not enough. You need to experience the place after 6pm, when all the shops are closed, the day tourists have gone and the city has become silent, to truly enjoy and feel it.
I will leave you with a few pictures from our trip of the amazing one and a half days we spent loving, living, breathing in Bruges – the city which screams medieval times in the present age.
PS: Do watch ‘In Bruges’ movie after your return from the trip, which will one hundred percent take you back to the time you spent there.