“It’s a fairytale town, isn’t it? How’s a fairytale town not somebody’s fucking thing? How can all those canals and bridges and cobbled streets and those churches, all that beautiful fucking fairytale stuff, how can that not be somebody’s fucking thing, eh?” – Harry, from In Bruges

Have you seen the film In Bruges?  If not, stop reading this blog and Netflix it ASAP!  The movie is a wonderful black comedy that stars the little city of Bruges, Belgium.  Part of our decision to go stemmed from Tim’s love of that movie.  But could the real thing compare to the movie sets?

Bruges From Above

Uh, yeah.  It was BEAUTIFUL.  Stunning. Charming.  And yes, totally fucking fairytale.

Bruges Square

Bruges is a UNESCO World Heritage site, which means it’s a place of historical and cultural significance.  Why?  It’s location, on the northern coast of Belgium, made it a busy trade center and the influence of diverse cultures is evident in the architecture, art, and language of the area.  The buildings are medieval, elegant, adorable, and OLD.  When you live in a state that’s barely celebrated its 100th birthday, seeing buildings that have been around since the 14th century makes a huge impact.  We couldn’t get enough of the scenery – in fact, we spent most of our time just wandering around, staring open-mouthed at how absolutely lovely everything was.

Bruges Windmill

We explored the windmills near our hostel first – a sight many people miss when visiting Bruges because they’re far from the main square.  Walking along the canal and looking at the giant windmills was the perfect afternoon stroll.

Bruges Clocktower

The whimsy of the windmill park was matched by the medieval charm of the city square.  There’s almost too much to look at – the Gothic government buildings, the giant clock tower, the quaint little shops, all encircled in swan-filled canals.

Bruges Bridge at Night

You’ll stand there and think it couldn’t get more magical, then you’ll see the main square at night.  Everything is lit in yellow, it’s quiet and dreamy, and the lights sparkle off the water.  It looks like a movie set, too perfect to be real.  As an American fed a diet of cinema and advertising, it felt (and this wasn’t the first time I’d feel this way on our trip) like Disneyland.

Bruges Restaurants

Bruges Street

Bruges Fountain

Keep in mind that I don’t use photo editing software – Bruges simply looks this good, even better in person.  We didn’t DO a lot, so there’s not much to write about; we SAW a lot, so our Bruges journey is actually best shared in photos.  We saw…

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A castle that was actually a drawbridge! How fairytale is that? And it was just up the road from our hostel.

Bruges Canal

Canal streets, just like Venice!

The clock tower, looming over shops.

The clock tower, looming over shops.

A prettier town hall than any I'd seen before.  The statues that decorate it are all completely unique!

A prettier town hall than any I’d seen before. The statues that decorate it are all completely unique!

Clock Tower

The clock tower…. again.

A church that claims to house the blood of Jesus.

A church that claims to house the blood of Jesus.

Tim took a picture inside even though it wasn't allowed.  Shhhh, don't tell Jesus.

Tim took a picture inside even though it wasn’t allowed. Shhhh, don’t tell Jesus.

A bar they in which filmed In Bruges.  They weren't open either day we were there - guess we will have to go back!

A bar they in which filmed In Bruges. They weren’t open either day we were there – guess we will have to go back!

Is this the clock tower again?  Yes, because we decided to climb it.

Is this the clock tower again? Yes, because we decided to climb it.

We saw the bells!  They even went off while we were there and we got to see the mechanics that make them chime.

We saw the bells! They even went off while we were there and we got to see the mechanics that make them chime.

We also got the best view of this charming little town.

We also got the best view of this charming little town.

We saw the city at night, completely deserted.

We saw the city at night, completely deserted.

And we saw it by boat - which is highly recommended, by the way!

And we saw it by boat – which is highly recommended, by the way!

There were lots of swans.  And lots of swan poop!

There were lots of swans. And lots of swan poop!

And we saw the dog!  The famous Bruges dog, who naps in his window and watches boats float by.  What a life!

And we saw the dog! The famous Bruges dog, who naps in his window and watches boats floats by. What a life!

And that’s a short summary of Bruges! Our next city is a big one – Paris! Getting there wasn’t easy, though I guess we had an easier time than Ray… (That’s a reference to the movie.  If you didn’t get it, watch the dang movie already!)