It’s a wonder we were even able to get ourselves out of the bar. I could’ve spent the whole day there, enjoying the historical atmosphere, watching the tourists go by in boats and imagining myself in another time.
Two minutes before skimming through Jan Brito Hotel’s discount book Kees suggested, “We should go on Segways” so when I saw a little coupon for a Segway company, it was a sealed deal! We’d been on Segways just once before in Mauritius. The safari setting in Mauritius, and riding next to zebras was a vast difference from Brugge’s chocolate shops and horse drawn carriages trotting down the cobblestone streets. Both equally special!
There was far too much information to soak up on our super fun tour.
In the 1300s Brugge was a hub for trade and our guide told us … that the “Bourse” which opened in 1309 in Brugge was likely the first ever stock exchange in the world! In the 14th century, the city was full of wealth and a major hub for trading.
I read this on Lonely Planet and thought it was really interesting.
“When Philip the Fair, King of France, visited Bruges in 1301, his wife, Joanna of Navarre, was so surprised by the inhabitants’ wealth and luxurious clothes that she purportedly claimed: ‘I thought I alone was queen, but I see that I have 600 rivals here’.
Just to imagine, what it would’ve been like to travel back then, what travel would’ve meant and how similar and different things would’ve been could keep my brain occupied all day. Enveloped in so much history it’s no wonder Brugge is a must-see city.
In the 1500’s the city’s prestige started its decline and Antwerp began its economic rise.The fact that witch burnings and public executions took place RIGHT in the places we stood is so unfathomable to me. According to the segway guide, twice a week executions were held from dawn ’til dusk in the square. People would have family outings to watch the “excitement”, even pick up a stone and throw it at the “guilty”, without even knowing why. I will never fully comprehend the former cruelty, torment and fear behind the beauty of these surroundings.
Luck was certainly on our side because just as we were pulled back into the Segway shop it started to rain again. My hands were freezing by the end, but thank goodness the guide had given me some oversized, red gloves or I’d have had to use melting methods to remove my hands from the handle bars. We ran into a nearby cafe, which still had romantic heart decor left over from Valentines Day, and drank overpriced but much needed hot chocolate with whipping cream. Just two blocks from the Markt we made a retreat to the comfort of our 16th century Jan Brito Hotel. I had a more than perfectly timed hot bath with jets (what a treat!) and warmed up before heading out for a night stroll and dinner.
The whole city is lit up at night, which ads an extra special, magical touch. This is definitely my favourite shot from the night’s stroll. The amount of time and effort and faith that went into each and every one of these carvings blows my mind.
Stone figures on the historic buildings always makes me think of the book “Sarum” by Edward Rutherfurd. If you’ve read it, you know exactly what I mean. I love reading books that take you back to historical times and actually being in these old locations with such rich history always overwhelms me. I try and try and try to comprehend the sights and smells and sounds that would’ve made it what it was back then. The fear of torture chambers, being burned as a witch in the square, the awe of getting a glimpse of the higher class in their dresses and carriages. This is one of the main reasons I highly recommend visiting Europe at least ONCE in your life. And before you come, please read a book that takes place during the same time era.
A few recommendations would be, “Pillars of the Earth” by Ken Follet, “Three Musketeers” by Alexander Dumas, “Outlander” by Diane Gabaldon or “Poland” (or actually any) by James A. Michener, anything that takes you back in time.
After our Segway tour, we’d asked the guide for tips on restaurants and he gave us a great list, which almost tempted us to stay a few more days. We’ll just have to save those for next time.
We ended up at the ’T Zwarte Huis and had a delicious steak dinner. And I got to take one of my Diane Kroe dresses out on its first date. Don’t forget if you’re interested in any of these travel designs, you can use the coupon code “Savannah” for free shipping! Cheers to that!
I enjoyed walking, Segwaying (is that a word?!) and boating around Brugge so much, that I needed to go back to Belgium and visit Ghent. Tomorrow!
I know, I know I PROMISED I would stay home and write… but…but…what better way to get inspiration than a short road trip? Do I have your guys’ blessing? *puppy eyes*
This time it will be a mother/daughter trip