Bruges, Belgium in 36 Hours

Continuing on in my whirlwind tour of Belgium, I left Ghent Tuesday evening and headed for the popular tourist destination of Bruges that lies along the northern boarder of Belgium. Leaving Ghent on such a high note {seriously guys, I loved this town!} I had high expectations for my first night in Bruges, but unfortunately my not so Best Friend Mother Nature had other plans in store!

I arrived by train to to Bruges at the main train station in town and quickly realized that my hostel was over an hour's walk away, so I admitted defeat and booked my first (and almost only!) taxi of this trip. They dropped me off at my hostel and upon check in I inquired about an evening walking tour only to find out that it had departed less than 10 minutes before I checked in, but they urged me that I should be able to catch up! Another guest in the lobby said that he'd be interested in catching up with them as well, so I quickly raced to find my room and bed, locked my things up, and made my way back to the lobby in less than 5 minutes only to return to the lobby and find that it was now POURING outside. Against all better judgment we decided that it was still a great idea to find the tour. Well, long story short we never found them as we were d.r.e.n.c.h.e.d so we did what any good Belgian would do and found a hole in the wall bar and had a couple of good local beers and waited for the storm to pass!

The next morning I was bound && determined to make use of the beautiful weather and showed up for the 8 am walking tour only to discover that apparently no other tourist in Belgium wanted to be an early riser & that the next one wasn't until late morning. Low & behold, I'm my own private tour guide again! But of course life & travel are funny things and always like to through you for a loop if you're prepared to catch them! My tour guide was a man probably in his 40's that told me they couldn't depart with only 5 people. His friend whom he knew through the tour program, a man probably closer to 60, happened to be nearby though and I, being the only solo traveler in the small group, apparently made him feel bad and he gave me a quick 30 minute tour of Bruges; the "insider tour" as he called it, taking me to several places that he said typical guides can't go to because of the larger number of people in the groups. At the end of my surprise private tour I thanked the man profusely and using both my notes as well as his suggestions, began navigating Bruges solo.

I checked out the main Markt Square {ok it was more than I check was a beautiful square, so alive with people!} as well as the city hall that was opened in the early 1400's and then made my way a couple blocks away to the Bonifacius Bridge & Our Lady of Bruges Gothic church & the gorgeous canals that surrounded this area. I am SO thankful that I went alone in the morning, my walking tour passed this same area later and you could hardly move, so glad I'm an early bird when I travel {{and only when I travel lol}} By this point it's well past breakfast and quickly nearing lunch so I did the most logical thing I could think of and stopped in a teeny tiny shop and ordered a homemade waffle and a cup of the most delicious hot chocolate that I have ever tasted! {I'm tellin' you, perks of solo travel. You eat when you want, where you want, and what you want....hello waffles & chocolate for lunch!!}

Making my way back to the Markt Square it was nearly time for the afternoon walking tour to take off. I quickly made friends with another young, female, solo, traveler, and we were off! {Side note: I ended up spending the rest of the afternoon with this girl until we both left to the train station and I never even got her name! haha}

Tour highlights included the Markt Square, Belfry Tower (huge bell tower downtown), the Church of our Lady of Bruges, the Gruuthuse Museum, the Old St. John Hospital {hello namesake!}, Ten Wijngaerde {an old community of nuns & lay women} & of course the Bonifacius Bridge.

After our tour, Nameless Girl Friend and I continued walking outside of the downtown area and grabbed dinner together at a recommended local pub where we met up with a couple of other travelers and shared food, beers, and stories for an hour or 2 before departing ways towards the train station...Next stop, Paris!

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