Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Bruges, Belfrys and Belgian Boys!

I arrived in Bruges to Snuffel Hostel. Hands down, the most personable hostel on my trip. I was greeted by a very cute Belgian boy (who was also the most attractive hostel staff member on the whole trip...) The pros to the Snuffel hostel were location to the town, personality and the fun atmosphere. Lots of fun people, and lots of locals at happy hour in the bar. A nice fun place. But the negatives were... interesting. One, they have a very tall spiral staircase which could be a bit dangerous for travellers with suitcases on wheels instead of backpacks. Also, to get to the showers (which were co-ed, eep!) you had to walk outside in the SNOW across the backyard to a seperate building. I dreaded the shower I took here because you also had to do the walk of shame through the bar with your towel and shower caddy saying hi to all the non-lame people who were not about to freeze their asses off. Snuffel Hostel in Bruges, 5 out of 5 for personality and fun, 3 out of 5 for facilities. Boo...

Snuffel Hostel, note the cute Belgian!
I met two very nice girls at this hostel. One was Angel from Shanghai! The same Angel from Brussels. Angel is a very interesting girl. She studies in Milan, wears high heels in the snow, has very cute clothes to backpack in, and drink her beer dilluted with hot water. A character for sure, so glad I met her! I have never met a more stylish backpacker than Angel.

I also met Alyshea who was backpacking Europe on her own, visiting various friends on her way. She had a very vintage backpack which reminded me of a big piece of toast. And she kept pate chilling on our window sill. She was also very nice and was the main girl I hung out with in Bruges the next day when I did all my sight seeing. We mainly did eating and looking at big buildings, I'm not going to lie. I think I ate more than her though. Okay, I know I did! I cannot tell you everything we saw on this day because it was over 15 things but I'll hit the highlights and later comeback and hit the smaller parts of the trip.
The Belfry and the Christmas Market

Stop 1
The Belfry
For those of you who have seen "In Bruges". This is the tower than Colin Farrel is pulling himself up in the movie screaming that he hates the other guy. Also it's the tower where the fat ass american tourist gets stuck in the top because it's "really tight up there!". The movie does not exagerate the Belfry. It's beautiful and the symbol of Bruges in both history and architecture. A must see activity, but warning you those steps are hazardous!

Stop 2
The Streets and Canals
Bruges has a beautiful atmosphere for christmas. The Christmas market was wonderful we ate waffles, hot chocolate and this very yummy potatoe gratin thing there. It's right in front of the Belfry where there are lots of little shops that look like ginger bread houses and an ice skating rink. It was a little icy on some of the cobblestone streets on the day I was there but most were fine. Bruges is a canaled city. It was so cold that some of the Canals were frozen over! BRR! In the summer you can take canal tours to see the city as aparently it is one of the best ways to see the city and Bruges is known as "The Venice of the North". I also saw some very cold swans in those canals.
Marrying the local potatoes...

Stop 3
Museums of Food
I went to both the Museum of Chocolate and the Museum of Frites in Bruges. You can both tickets together and save yourself money. Also, do not forget your Bruges card as it can save you additional at most attractions. I forgot mine and I was screwed out of a few discounts I qualified for. Hotels give them away for free in Bruges. They also give you discounts on some resteraunts in town.
I prefered the Museum of Frites to the Museum of Chocolate due to it's high kitch factor. Great signage for kids. (I didn't read any of the adult information, just the signs for children... Much more entertaining!) The Museum of chocolate does give you free samples and a free demonstration of candy making by hand, (in three languages). But the Chocolate museum took it's self way too serious and although information sucked out the fun of it being a museum dedicated to candy!
Also come here for the slightly offensive chocolate artwork of the Virgin Mary and the Obama made completely out of chocolate! Offensively delicous!
Yes, that cupid is peeing chocolate...

Stop 4
You can see a lot of churches in Bruges. My personal favorite was the church of "sacred blood", you'll know you're there because it's the only black and gold church I saw on my whole trip. You can also stop by the church of "Onze- Lievevrouwekerk" and see the only statue Michaelangelo travelled outside of Italy to make. Once, coveted by the nazis during WW2, it's been through a lot so be nice to it and turn your flash off!
The church of Sacred Blood

Next: Food of Belgium

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