Visiting Bruges, Belgium

I crammed another weekend trip to Bruges in my busy zero-free-days lifestyle this August. I was doing this trip alone and had wanted to couchsurf. But unfortunately, I didn’t find any suitable hosts until the last minute. That’s why by the time of my hurried departure from Lodz for Warsaw Chopin airport (from work straight to Lodz bus station tackling the city traffic, and from Lodz bus station to Warsaw Chopin tackling another highway traffic), I still hadn’t sorted out where I was going to stay.

On the bus, I restlessly checked all the hostels I could find in the city center. Considering how last minute it was (and for Friday night), the searches weren’t that fruitful. But finally I found a hostel at the center with a dorm bed (everything else was booked). I booked the accommodation minutes before boarding the plane, utilizing my phone network. Since I would arrive to Bruges at midnight (I was flying to Brussels Chareloi and taking a bus to Bruges), IΒ  also noted down the door code and the exact address.

Normally I am very organized about the tickets and accommodation and all the essentials during travel. But this time was an exception and I am not even sure why.

By the time I arrived to Bruges, it was midnight and everything was so quiet. I hadn’t realized how small of a town it was. Or rather, later to realize, how the bus had dropped me to the parking side at the back of the railway station. I didn’t have internet connection on my phone and hence no local taxi number. But I had the exact address of the hostel, and according to the website it was only a 10 minute walk from the main station. So, I started walking. But I somehow was going towards darker and darker places and I returned back. After a bit of waiting and observing, I finally figured out that I was at the parking lot on the back of the railway station. I walked through the building and reached to the front, with waiting taxis, some people and ATMs! How naive could I have been.

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The back area of the station

I still took a taxi because I didn’t want another uncalled adventure while figuring out the hostel’s address in a foreign country alone at midnight. It took less than 5 minutes to arrive at the hostel and I was relieved! This was my first time staying at a mixed dorm with strangers, but I was too exhausted by that point to care, so I retired to bed looking forward to a brand new day at Bruges.

The next day I was going to meet Anna, a Polish friend who had studiedΒ in Finland, but whom I went to Portugal with and shared great memories from the country, living in Belgium since a couple of years. I was so excited because I hadn’t seen her in over 2 years and we had a lot to catch up with! Many things had changed in our lives and I had even started living in her country. The next morning was beautiful and we met at the town square and proceeded for sightseeing.

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The town was so gorgeous with its pretty cobblestone streets, canals and beautiful houses. I was very pleased with my decision of visiting Bruges instead of Brussels or Ghent. It fit into my short weekend plan well. It was Anna’s second or third or fourth (?) time in Bruges, and she pretty much knew all the major attractions.

It was a lovely, sunny day and we were really enjoying ourselves.We had some lunch, some good Belgian beers on the sun outside (I miss summer and the sun), did the canal boat tour into its historic districts, walked around and talked. A lot. By the time Anna had to leave for her home in Antwerp, we had a bit of walking adventure after accidentally detouring. My feet were so tired at the end of the day.

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After saying goodbye to Anna and hoping that I’d see her soon again, I went to the hostel to relax for a while before going out in the evening alone, as I had wanted to see the same places at night time. Because I had followed Anna around all day and was so busy in talking with her, I got lost many times in the course of trying to reach the canal side where we had lunch in the afternoon. I didn’t mind losing the way as the town was so pretty and alive. I was still determined to find the same spot from the afternoon. After a lot of thinking and recap from the afternoon about the routes, I reached to the place I had wanted to and took some photos. It was a lovely evening. I ate some Belgian fries and beer while appreciating the view at night time. I still had almost one whole day to spend in Bruges but I had already seen most of the attractions by the end of first day.

 

 

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