Bruges

TravelWithoutapurpose

 

Eight reasons to travel to Brugge this fall. Best of Bruges 2017. Why you can’t miss this Venice of Belgium. You can’t visit Belgium without a stop in Brugge. Don’t be Brugge-y. And all the other catchy travel article titles about Brugge…

By the time I reached Belgium this October, my twelfth country to visit in the year, I was spent. I had really lost a sense of purpose in my travel after being overwhelmed with tourist activities in Prague and having a deeply enriching cultural immersion in Peru over the summer. I made a promise to myself that day: I’ll never travel without a purpose again.

Lady in Minnawaterpark

Neighborhood off ArsenaalstraatThe view from Begijnhof

Beguinage

Near St. John's Hospital


I made a promise to myself that day: I’ll never travel without a purpose again.


But what does purpose really mean when traveling? Is it to experience a specific thing, step out of your comfort zone, cross an item off a list, change the backdrop of your everyday life, meet with an old or new friend? One can really make meaning out of any situation. Day trips always seem particularly purposeful if not for to see the difference in culture from one city to the next. Or just to be, elsewhere.

I made the most of it, taking that much recommended time to experience Bruges from my mainstay in Brussels. I boarded a train in the morning and an hour and 15 minutes of trees, cows, and pasturelands later, I was pulling up to the station. Bruges is a place I can really only explain in pictures as I still attempt to detox my mind, body, and soul from travel restlessness and achieving goals and finding purpose trying to just be.

BeguinageStreet lifeMain SquareMain Square from BelfrySide streets and view of gables

followtheoldlady

 

Some of my only thoughts while there were, “people actually live(d) here” and “these gables are incredible” and “where can I buy chocolate?” The only thing you really need to know about Bruges is that it exists and can be explored in a day (better in two to see the sunset and sunrise reflected in the beautiful canals).

Everything else? Just get lost in the streets. The old cobblestone will lead you to marketplaces, historic cathedrals, and waffles, lots and lots of waffles. I even followed an old lady down a series of paths (inconspicuously, of course) which led me to a completely different road than where all the other tourists were going; through to more rows of beautiful housing, an old church, and a ship channel with a bike crossing.

Following the old ladyGablesCanal boat cruiseView from the canalView from the Belfry

brugesorbrugge

As you know, you can always do exactly what the guidebooks tell you – eat at every 4.8-star restaurant, stand in line for that awe-inspiring tourist site, brush up on your Flemish and French (Is it spelled Bruges or Brugge? Okay, this may actually prove beneficial). How much more fun, though, to follow your own path? Although traveling with a purpose makes the journey that much more meaningful, traveling without a purpose can yield surprises and the unexpected. It allows you to just be, albeit in a new and unknown place. That’s where we uncover the richness in exploration and how we learn to trust our curiosity and how we discover the unbeaten path.

For what it’s worth, here are a few points of interests to start:

  • Belfry of Bruges for a spectacular view of the city and the importance of this monument,
  • Canal cruise for a different perspective,
  • Minnewaterpark, Sashuis and the Beguinage for the architecture and swan sightings near the water,
  • Authentic taste of Belgian beer and food at a family-run called Huisbrouwerij De Halve Maan,
  • Or art at Gallery XPO Salvador Dali (experiential art), Groeningmuseum (Belgian art), Pablo Picasso – Site Oud Sint-Jan (art in a former hospital),
  • Or fun museums at Bruges Beer Museum (beer), Frietmuseum (history of potatoes), Choco-Story (history and chocolate tasting),
  • Or markets at Vismarkt (outdoor, once a fish market), Markt (heart of the city and site of the annual Christmas Market).

View from the canalView of Castle Minnewater from across the wayView of the city from the Belfry


 

October 2017

Where should I go next? Perhaps Peru.

© Copyright 2017 Akua Sencherey. All rights reserved.

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