I’ve had a bit of a shambles with my April roster and has resulted in me having many a turn around in between two different sets of friends visiting. Even though I tried all I can with live leave and swaps, I had to leave my friends in Dubai for a couple days whilst I quickly popped to Europe for a couple of days. So apologies for the lack of blog updates over the past few weeks, but I’m back to exploring new destinations again.
It was the morning departure out of Dubai with 7 hours and 8 minutes over to Brussels in Belgium. Landing just after lunchtime, a few of the crew had discussed renting a car and heading across to Bruges with maybe a couple of other stops along the way. We changed quickly and met in the lobby 40 minutes later and walked over to the car rental place who were trying to charge €159 for an afternoon rental. So we scrapped the car idea and took the train over to Bruges which cost only €12.40 return as I’m under 26! I thought that was a great price for an hours journey!
We got into Bruges, just after 16:30 and walked in the direction of Old St. Johns Hospital, and as we stepped out in the city it was a gorgeous day with blue skies making for the perfect afternoon to mooch around the city.
The Hospital of St. John was a medieval hospital in Bruges. It was founded in the mid-12th century. Located next to the Church of Our Lady, the premises contain some of Europe’s oldest surviving hospital buildings. The hospital grew during the Middle Ages and was a place where sick pilgrims and travellers were cared for. The site was later expanded with the building of a monastery and convent. In the 19th century, further construction led to a hospital with eight wards around a central building. Not until 1977 did the building’s function as a hospital stop, at which time it was moved to a newer modern hospital in Brugge Sint-Pieters. The city of Bruges took over the buildings. Today part of the hospital complex holds the popular Hans Memling museum, named for the German-born Early Netherlandish painter, where a number of works, such as triptychs are displayed, as well as hospital records, medical instruments and other works of art.
The city gave me a similar feel to Amsterdam, but a more upmarket version. Wandering in and out the quaint little streets we finally came across St Johns Hospital but it really wasn’t what I was expecting!
It had beautiful architecture and some very small grounds to walk around, but unless you wanted to go inside it didn’t really have much to offer otherwise.
Moving over to the main square there were three things to see here. Markt, Provincaal Hof and the Belfry of Bruges. A cute little square, good for photo opportunities, people watching and grabbing a bite to eat. You can also go up the Belfry if you wanted for panoramic views of the city, but with time pressing on for us, we thought we would do that another time.
We decided to do a quick boat tour around the city which lasted approximately 30 minutes and cost just €8 per person. The tour was given in both French and English and showed us lots of different gorgeous buildings and told interesting facts on the city. One of them being that windows overlooking the river in Bruges used to be subject to taxation so on a lot of the buildings you can see spaces where windows should be, but they are actually completely bricked up. Was a very unusual thing to see, but not one I had noticed before our tour guide brought it up.
Feeling incredibly peckish now, we headed back to the main square in search of Belgian mussels as it was a dish I’d been recommended and is also a personal favourite. We grabbed a table outside in the sunshine and ordered 1kg pots of steaming mussels served in creamy white wine and garlic sauce washed down with Belgian cherry beer. Absolutely perfect. As the day drew into a close, we walked back through the beautiful city of Bruges and back to the train station to catch the next train back to Brussels.
The next morning, I woke up at 9am to meet the crew again and call for breakfast at the place I stopped at on my last trip to Brussels, Peck 47!
I was going to opt for something different, but the food was just so good last time that I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to have it again, and boy it did not disappoint. We quickly called at the supermarket to stock up on some groceries and flowers to take back to Dubai, before heading back to the hotel for our wake up call.
A gorgeous, fun filled trip in a city that I really loved. I honestly would recommend Bruges to anyone, and can understand why my parents raved about it so much when they visited. Really recommend for a day trip if you’re in the area, or a short city weekend break.
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