November has flown by in France! At the beginning of this month we had a five day weekend in celebration of Toussaint, or “All Saints Day” as Catholics call it in the United States. Having waited until a week before to plan a trip, I and two friends decided to travel to Bruges, Belgium after finding a hostel for 15€ a night.
Bruges is often referred to as “the Venice of the north” because of the canals that cut through the city which made it one of the largest trading hubs in the world during the middle ages. It is not surprising that entire city of Bruges has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site; nearly all of the architecture dates back to the Middle Ages and has been beautifully preserved. As you walk through the streets, the buildings are so old, so grand, and so picturesque that it doesn’t feel real. My words don’t do it justice; just look at the pictures below.
Our stay in Bruges was incredibly fun because there was so much to see and do! There are about 5 cathedrals in the city whose towers you can see from nearly any point in town. There are also beautiful windmills, an antique market, chocolate stores, Belgium waffle stands, and of course many museums. Check out Le Trappiste pub if you visit (3rd picture below!). It features trappist beers which are special because they have been brewed exclusively by monks since the middle ages. The money earned from the beer is used to maintain the monasteries/breweries, and the rest is donated to charity. There are currently only eleven trappiste breweries in the world, so don’t skip out on this Belgium specialty! However, be careful! Belgium beer is strong (8-12%) and cheap, which makes for a dangerous combination.
I have one last thing I would like to say: Thank You Belgians! The Belgians were the happiest and kindest people I have ever met in my life. My time spent with them in pubs and around town was my favorite part of the trip. When it came time for us to leave, I was shocked at how downhearted I felt. In just four days the town and the people had become so familiar that it felt like I was leaving home. Even after two months in France, I still don’t feel as strongly attached as I did to Bruges. Hopefully I will see it again someday.