In Bruges!And indeed I was in Bruges about a month ago - and when I got back home I watched the movie In Bruges, which is pretty good, although I'm sure you don't need me to tell you that since even I had heard good things about it and I manage to watch about one film a year. This year, I've already smashed my average by watching In Bruges and Django Unchained, so I'm probably done until 2014. It was definitely extra fun seeing the places I'd been to just days before in a movie though (this is more thrilling for those of us who grew up far from the bright lights of New York, Paris or LA).
I've wanted to go to Bruges for ages (before the movie even). I lived for five months in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region of France, literally half an hour away from the Belgian border, but while I got to go to Belgium about once a week on average (for work), the fact that I was working up to 16 hours a day, 6 days a week and the difficulties of making the public transport schedules work for me meant that I never made it to Bruges despite being relatively near by.
So when I had to go to Brussels, I knew I had to take the opportunity for a quick trip to Bruges. Since my train tickets (to Brussels and back) were on the IIO dime, I didn't want to take the piss by staying too long after the interview, so I only had from early evening on Wednesday to mid-afternoon Thursday to see the city. As with Bologna, I feel there are definitely more things I would have liked to have seen and done if I had more time, such as going up the tower in the Grot Markt or seeing the collection of Memling paintings in one of the museums, but it was great just to have the chance to see the place at all really.
I was expecting a very chocolate-box, fairy-tale feeling as I set out to explore the city on the first evening - I love the Middle Ages, and Bruges is meant to be one of the best-preserved medieval cities in the world. At first though, for whatever reason, I wasn't really feeling that magic. Maybe it seemed too touristified, despite the fact that it was very cold and snowy and picturesque and definitely not the high season. However, I wandered into a deserted snow-covered courtyard outside the Archaeological Museum and a carillon of bells (is that a tautology?) from the nearby Belfry started playing and it did feel a bit like a magical movie moment.
More next time on the specific sights of Bruges, first here's some photos from around the city:
|The aforementioned Archaeological Museum at night|
|Statue on a bridge with the Church of Our Lady behind|
|The Basilica of the Holy Blood|
|Judgey bear (?) knows what you did|
|The Burg square|
|Town hall in the Burg square|
|Dude in the canal! He seemed to be in there deliberately to break up the ice, but damn, surely there's a better way! Or at least you put on a hat or something!|
|At least ice kitteh has her fur to keep her warm|
|The 122 metre-high spire of the Church of Our Lady|
|Frozen canal with a view of the Church of Our Lady|
|If there's one thing they love in Bruges, it's light pollution|
|The Grote Markt|
|Me in front of the Belfry|
|A snowy square with that omnipresent Church of the Lady behind|
|Pavilion near the Groeningemuseum|
|Snowy statue near the Archaeological Museum|