Last Saturday started my spring break (despite only having 2 weeks of classes. So much for “study” abroad), so for the first half my friend Courtney and I headed to Brugge, Belgium.
We left The Hague on Saturday morning to catch our train in Amsterdam. Once we got to Brugge, we got lost trying to find our Air BnB and spent around 40 minutes wandering in the rain. Once we finally found the house, we were welcomed by our host and she spent 30 minutes going over a map of the town with us and telling us places we should go which was awesome. Since it was around dinner time we set out to find some food (more about that in another post, since food deserves its own post).
Since we were tired from traveling all day, we decided to call it a night when we finished dinner and head back to the Air BnB early and figured out what we wanted to do the next day.
Our first stop was at a museum called Historium. There we bought a Brugge City Card for 72 hours. It cost 50 euros, but got us into most museums in the city for free. If you’re going to be in Brugge for a short period of time I would absolutely recommend doing the card because there are so many small museums in the city and I don’t think we would have gone into a lot of them if we didn’t have the card.
Historium was really cool. It’s an interactive museum where you follow the story of a painters apprentice through one day in the 15th century. You follow an audio tour through different rooms with statues and scents to go along with the story. Both Courtney and I got really invested in the story. More info on Historium can be found here.
After finishing up at Historium we tried to head over to the Choco-story, the chocolate museum in Brugge, but it was blocked off by a bunch of fire trucks, so we decided to come back later, and headed over to the french fry museum. The french fry museum was hilarious. It’s literally a museum dedicated to the history of potatoes and french fries. Any one who knows me knows I love potatoes in all forms, so I loved it. We went through the museum pretty quickly and didn’t really read all of the info, because we were more excited about the discounted fries that we’d get at the end.
After finishing up with our french fries we tried to go back to the chocolate museum only to find out that it was closed for the day due to a fire (hence the fire trucks we had seen earlier), so we walked over to the other side of town to go do a brewery tour at Brewery De Halve Maan. The tour was guided and included a free beer at the end. I’m not a huge beer drinker, but I liked the beer they gave us.
As we wandered back into city center we stopped in the archeology museum, which was okay, but a little boring (although that could be because everything was in dutch so we couldn’t read any of the descriptions), and the Picasso collection. I’m a huge Picasso fan, so the collection was awesome. It has over 300 different works from Picasso and it was really cool to see the progression of his work. After that we decided to head back to our Air BnB to relax and warm up, and then decide where to go to dinner.
We grabbed dinner at a restaurant attached to a hostel that was incredible. After finishing dinner we did what was one of the weirdest, but coolest things that I’ve ever done. There was a bar that our Air BnB host had mentioned and was also in our guide books called Retsin’s Lucifernum. It’s only open on Sunday nights from 8pm-11pm. We were so confused when we got there because it’s literally inside a guy’s house and you have to ring a bell to get in (and we rang 3 bells before finally finding the right one). It’s basically a museum/bar. You pay a 10 euro admission fee and get to walk around the house which is filled with Gothic art, inspired by Edgar Allen Poe’s last poem. After finishing looking around you can go into one of the two bars and get a drink. Apparently if you stick around for a while you can learn more about the paintings, but we were pretty tired and the building is kept freezing so we decided to call it a night.
We started the day by heading over to the store HEMA because our host at Air BNB mentioned that they have full breakfast for 2 euros. Except we didn’t know it was only until 10am, and we got there around 10:15, but decided to just grab some pastries and coffee there while planning the rest of our day.
Any public museums are closed on Mondays, but we were able to find a good amount of private ones that were open to keep us entertained for the day.
Our first stop was back to Choco-story, which was open again. When we got there we were given a sample of chocolate (you can choose: dark, milk, or white) and a free chocolate bar (which was sadly white chocolate, my least favorite type of chocolate). The museum was similar to the Friet museum and we didn’t spend a long time there, but it was cool to learn about the history of chocolate. We then looked in the gift shop, but none of the chocolates stood out to us so we decided to wait until later to buy some.
We then wandered back to city center and did a little bit of shopping. I bought a post card, and Courtney bought some lace. We went into a couple chocolate shops but couldn’t commit to buying anything (but took as many free samples as we could). From there, we went over to the Salvador Dali museum. Dali is another artist I really like, and the collection was really cool as most were inspired by different literary works like Alice in Wonderland or Romeo and Juliet.
By this point we were hungry again and went in search of lunch. We had heard of a bagel place from one of our guide books and went in the direction. Along the way we stopped into the torture museum, but not for very long. I thought it would be kind of interesting, but it was really just kind of disturbing. After that detour we made it to bagels and had one of the best meals I’ve had since getting here (again more about that in a separate post)
After that we kind of just wandered around. We went over to the Basillica of the Holy Blood, which is a church that has a vial of Jesus’ blood brought over by the Spanish inquisition. It was cool to see, and the church was gorgeous. We then bought some chocolates from Dumon, and headed back to the Air BnB to dry off because it was raining all day.
Tuesday was our shopping day, and our day of failed museums. We started our day with waffles (because when in Belgium) and then headed to the outskirts of town to the folk lore museum, which was closed for renovations. We then tried to find Gezellemuseum, but by the time we did it was closed for lunch and not opening for another 2 hours. We though about going back, but it was way out of the way. We finally made it over to Adornesdomein-Jeruzalemkapel which is an old church and museum that was open and really cool.
After that we went over to a combination book store/cafe called Books and Brunch to grab some lunch and look at books. The rest of the day we spent just wandering around and going into shops. There was a french bakery that we passed on our first day and kept meaning to go into, and we finally got around to it and bought some incredible meringues. For dinner we went to a really good, and really cheap, pasta place and then called it a night since we both had early train the next morning.
On Wednesday morning Courtney headed to Paris to visit a friend, and I went on to Germany to see a friend from high school (post on that coming later).
Even though the weather wasn’t the best, I loved Brugge and would love to go back.