One of the many highlights of doing a PhD abroad is that it allows us easy and affordable access to Europe. We have a ‘bucket-list’ of places that we would like to visit, but we wait for last minute deals on budget airlines and always find the best accommodation through AirBnb. We avoid baggage fees by bringing one backpack each and away we go!
When it comes to Bruges, Belgium what could be more romantic and inspiring than a place that looks like it belongs in a fairy tale? The medieval charm of it’s cobblestone streets led us to countless UNESCO world heritage wonders and picturesque scenes.
We walked Bruges for hours and hours everyday, stopping at cafe’s here and there, wandering down rows of ornate houses and in awe of the unseasonable and mild weather we were getting for early March. Similar to Amsterdam, Bruges is distinguished by its meandering canals throughout old town. This is a pedestrian’s dream because cars are unable to navigate the narrow streets in city centre. This means that I could safely cross the street, while my attention was held captive by the architecture and not be struck by a car (Ryan always points out this ‘flaw’ of mine).
We walked sun up to sun down, picnicking and snacking on benches as we went. We do not tend to eat our meals out on our budget trips but we always look forward to small treats that are unique to the destination. Our Airbnb host recommended treats from The Chocolate Line, we experimented with flavours like Earl Grey, lemongrass and even saffron curry. It would also not be a Tafilowski weekend without sipping on some local coffee- Blackbird, Verro Coffee and Books+Brunch were all at the top of our list. One of my favourite things about Airbnb (there are loads) is that you might get the chance to chat with your host. Our host, Leon, was beaming with pride with what Bruges has to offer (more than beer and waffles, he reminded us) and that we were enthusiastic to experience it.
For some great sightseeing in town we started at the Gentpoort gate and made our way through alleyways and cottages to the center at Burg Square. We could not resist a canal tour and at €7 each it didn’t break the budget. Nearby is the Begijnhof, a peaceful garden with romance written all over it. We were sure to include stops to Church of Our Lady, the Belfry and Market Halls. We grabbed some fruit and pastries from the supermarket and enjoyed the view of Markt. On Wednesdays there is an open market here well-equipped with locally made jams and dozens of chocolate stands. We were tempted to do a carriage ride but we decided that Bruges is extremely walkable and best by foot.
We can fit a lot into a long weekend. We had ample time to fully experience Bruges and like all of our trips it could be done on a budget. Bruges has a hassle-free vibe, wrapping visitors with a warm blanket of comfy cafes and romantic wanders. Our weekend passed slowly and was oh-so-satisfying. We fell in love with this sleepy Flemish town and will remember it always.
Traveling mercies, friends!
With love from Scotland,
R + A