Brugge is everything Brussels is not: pretty, expensive, and a tourist trap. However, of all the tourist traps I’ve ever been to, and I’ve been to plenty, this is one of the most pleasant.
In the past two days, we discovered what makes Brugge sweet. Literally sweet. Brugge has hundreds of candy and chocolate shops (all of which we made sure to visit) as well as an entire museum dedicated to—you guessed it—chocolate making. They even have a statue of a chocolate Obama (we haven’t figured out if this is supposed to be offensive or adulatory).
In fact, there were so many places in Brugge that drew our eyes (and noses) away from our true goals that we were often sidetracked in our pursuits of viewing the town’s many churches and museums. It took us upwards of 5 hours a day to actually get to the 2-3 places we had on our list of things to view in Brugge. Today, for example, we were going to head to a church that (supposedly) contains Jesus’s blood, and on our way, were distracted by a candy shop in which you can watch the candy makers pull the sugar syrup into beautiful little confections. Of course, the free samples at every shop didn’t exactly discourage us from coming in.
Aside from ruining our figures, Brugge has impressed us with its sense of humor. There’s a map here that we picked up at our hostel that’s made for tourists by “the locals” that want us to frequent their tourist-trap shops. As useless as this may seem, the map is actually a true testament to the Brugge sense of humor. This same company made maps in Brussels that were very serious in their descriptions of the various sights and scenes you may want to visit. Conversely, the Brugge map took a very self-deprecating view. There are parks marked with the “goods” they offer (such as cute asses, good football field, great place to have a picnic), directions on how to anger a local (ask what time Brugge closes—apparently, Japanese tourists believe Brugge to be an amusement park), and even the most romantic places to kiss (Europe is all about PDA)!
I’m not sure how the locals feel about us tourists. Well, I’m sure of how they feel about French tourists…
On one hand, they are very helpful in directing you to their aunt’s restaurant when you need a place to eat. On the other, the locals riding bikes definitely seem to be trying to run you down. There’s really just no way a bicycle can swerve “accidentally” to so precisely match your trajectory.
Brugge was, all in all, an excellent way to end our stay in Belgium. After the capitol eyesore, it was really refreshing to see such a picturesque village. And, really, the abundance of chocolate wasn’t too bad either.