DESTINATION SPOTLIGHT: BRUGES, BELGIUM

Snow, rain & winds greeted us when we arrived in Bruges on a late March morning. Within a couple of hours, the sun was shining and the only proof of snow was in our pictures.
Snow, rain & winds greeted us when we arrived in Bruges on a late March morning. Within a couple of hours, the sun was shining and the only proof of snow was in our pictures.

TEMPERATURES: Fairly mild throughout the year.  From about 41 degrees in the winter to about 68 in the summer.   It’s not unusual to experience snowfall and a sunburn in the same day.

COST OF LIVING: After taxes, the average monthly salary in Bruges is approx. $2,600.  The average price of a Domestic pint of beer in a pub is about $4.00.

ACCESSABILITY: Bruges is easily accessible by car or by train.

 

 

Many of us have listened to people calling themselves seasoned travelers and claim to know Europe inside and out.  You may have been in attendance (either  by force or free will) while people talk about the amazing places they have visited.   An excellent question for these people would be “Have you been to Bruges?”   If they haven’t then you can be assured that you are in the company of someone who has not completely experienced European culture.

Pulling up to the former House of Burgundy via horse
Pulling up to the former House of Burgundy via horse & carriage.

Situated about 70 miles northwest of Brussels, Bruges gives off a vibe that makes you feel like you are in a quaint storybook village. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is an impeccably-preserved medieval city.   But beyond the cobblestone streets, cottages, and shops (including 64 CHOCOLATE shops) there is a greater story which adds to the charm of the town and will make one feel like they are truly walking through an important piece of European history.

A relaxing boat tour in the late afternoon
A relaxing boat tour in the late afternoon

Given Brugge’s proximity to the North Sea, it was considered the “Chief Commercial City” of the world during the Golden Age.  In an effort to get to the North Sea, canals were built throughout the city and to this day, the canals still meander through the town, allowing for a relaxing boat ride and many opportunities for taking breath-taking pictures.

 

It was required that people turn in copper for the war effort during WWII. De Halve Maan brewery instead hid these pots until the war was over. Can you blame them??
It was required that people turn in copper for the war effort during WWII. De Halve Maan brewery instead hid these pots until the war was over. Can you blame them??

While Bruges was occupied by the Nazis during World War II, it was thankfully spared from the devastating bombings which other cities saw.   Perhaps, in their few moments of clear thinking, the Nazis realized that bombing Bruges would not only destroy a beautiful town but would also seriously cripple their ability to get some of the world’s best beer.

Rather than make Bruges a day-trip, consider spending at least a night or two.  There are plenty of reasonably-priced hotels within easy walking distance to anything you want to do. Don’t let this quiet, quaint town fool you – there is PLENTY to do to keep you occupied for a week, if you wish.

One of many gorgeous rooms in Bruges City Hall. Great for a meeting or reception and VERY reasonably priced!
One of many gorgeous rooms in Bruges City Hall. Great for a meeting or reception and VERY reasonably priced!

And don’t underestimate this place as a location for your next international meeting.   With a flight into Belgium and then an hour train ride into Bruges,  you will find yourself both inspired and relaxed in this town.   Between the meeting rooms in the hotels and the full-service public buildings available for rent, a meeting in Bruges is one that will never be forgotten.  In many cases, the city will host a reception for groups that choose Bruges as their meeting destination!

Looking onto the town square from a balcony
Looking onto the town square from a balcony

 

While there are dozens of museums in Bruges which encompass chocolate, beer and famous works of art, Bruges itself is a walking museum.  The churches, towers, swans, canals and buildings are each a fascinating chapter in the long story of the history of Bruges.  The pride of Bruges is evident in the remarkably clean streets & shops, the warmth of its residents and the beauty of its architecture.

 

 

Want to visit Bruges?  Email Jill and she will help you design an itinerary.  Jill is also creating a beer tour of Belgium & Germany. Check out that post:  http://www.protoplanning.com/?p=392    Wanna go?   Let us know! Send and email to  protoplanning@gmail.com.