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I don't know where I first saw anything about Bruges.

It may have been scenes in a movie or a TV travel documentary many years ago, but whatever it was, something piqued my interest.

It was because of this that Bruges was placed on our list of things to do and visit while we traveled in Belgium.

When I look back on the experience of visiting Bruges, I have to laugh. However, the start of our little voyage was far from humourous.

Jane had written out directions to our hotel. The route was well planned out but we were soon to learn that knowing how to get somewhere and actually finding it are two different things.

Our hotel was in the center of town (pop 120,000).

Little did we know that Bruges is a dog's breakfast of one way streets, traffic circles and rife with road construction.

To add to the confusion Bruges is situated in the Dutch region of Belgium and the road signs are in a language that I have great difficulty understanding.

Placement of street names (when you can find them) is usually on the corner of a building.

All of this added up to us getting very lost.

At one point I stopped at the major train station as I knew there would be a tourist bureau inside.

I got a map and some advice. In took only a short time but by the time we returned to our vehicle a parking ticket adorned the window.

I learned that there is no free parking in Bruges and time-stamped tickets have to be purchased at parking machines.

Things were not going smoothly.

There were definite strains in the marital relationship as blood pressure rose to the breaking point.

After two hours of frustration we finally go close to where we thought the hotel could be found.

Map in hand we paid and parked, and searched on foot.  We found it, but my mood was black, and I wasn't sure if I wanted to see anymore of the Belgique city.

After placing my vehicle in a parking garage and starting to explore our surroundings I slowly began feeling a bit of relief.

It was magical.

It is one of the most beautiful areas I have ever visited.

Cobblestoned streets and buildings dating back to the 1600's give a feeling that you have transported back in time. 

We were there for only a day and took a boat trip along the system of canals.  We visited some amazing museums that highlighted the works of Flemish art.  There was also a very interesting exhibit entitled Bruegel's Witches that explained the history and the evolution of witchcraft.

What was very nice about the museums and galleries was that they weren't overcrowded, giving us ample opportunity to enjoy the artwork and read the narratives at our leisure.  

Walking along the canals, stroling through the market areas, dining outdoors,  having a drink at an outside cafe and watching the people walk by, all added to a phenomenal visit.

If I was asked my opinion on a place to visit in Europe, Bruges would certainly be on the top of my list of  recommendations.

 

Jim Hildebrand is a Pilot Islands’ correspondent who writes from Durrell.

twillingatepilot@hotmail.com. He has safely returned home from his travels to Europe. 

It may have been scenes in a movie or a TV travel documentary many years ago, but whatever it was, something piqued my interest.

It was because of this that Bruges was placed on our list of things to do and visit while we traveled in Belgium.

When I look back on the experience of visiting Bruges, I have to laugh. However, the start of our little voyage was far from humourous.

Jane had written out directions to our hotel. The route was well planned out but we were soon to learn that knowing how to get somewhere and actually finding it are two different things.

Our hotel was in the center of town (pop 120,000).

Little did we know that Bruges is a dog's breakfast of one way streets, traffic circles and rife with road construction.

To add to the confusion Bruges is situated in the Dutch region of Belgium and the road signs are in a language that I have great difficulty understanding.

Placement of street names (when you can find them) is usually on the corner of a building.

All of this added up to us getting very lost.

At one point I stopped at the major train station as I knew there would be a tourist bureau inside.

I got a map and some advice. In took only a short time but by the time we returned to our vehicle a parking ticket adorned the window.

I learned that there is no free parking in Bruges and time-stamped tickets have to be purchased at parking machines.

Things were not going smoothly.

There were definite strains in the marital relationship as blood pressure rose to the breaking point.

After two hours of frustration we finally go close to where we thought the hotel could be found.

Map in hand we paid and parked, and searched on foot.  We found it, but my mood was black, and I wasn't sure if I wanted to see anymore of the Belgique city.

After placing my vehicle in a parking garage and starting to explore our surroundings I slowly began feeling a bit of relief.

It was magical.

It is one of the most beautiful areas I have ever visited.

Cobblestoned streets and buildings dating back to the 1600's give a feeling that you have transported back in time. 

We were there for only a day and took a boat trip along the system of canals.  We visited some amazing museums that highlighted the works of Flemish art.  There was also a very interesting exhibit entitled Bruegel's Witches that explained the history and the evolution of witchcraft.

What was very nice about the museums and galleries was that they weren't overcrowded, giving us ample opportunity to enjoy the artwork and read the narratives at our leisure.  

Walking along the canals, stroling through the market areas, dining outdoors,  having a drink at an outside cafe and watching the people walk by, all added to a phenomenal visit.

If I was asked my opinion on a place to visit in Europe, Bruges would certainly be on the top of my list of  recommendations.

 

Jim Hildebrand is a Pilot Islands’ correspondent who writes from Durrell.

twillingatepilot@hotmail.com. He has safely returned home from his travels to Europe. 

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