Saturday, December 20, 2014

Bruges, Belgium: 2014 Christmas Market

Moving right along...and finally getting to the day for which we actually drove to Belgium, that last weekend of November!

I'm totally going backwards from when this all happened.  I started with Veere, NL, which we stopped to see as we drove home.  Then I showed you what happened on the day of our coastal tram ride.

Today is when we took the train to Bruges from our hotel in Ostend, a 15-minute no-brainer, no-hassle ride to the outskirts of city center.  And we weren't the only ones visiting Bruges that first weekend of their Christmas market, Saturday, November 29.  (We first stopped at the ice festival outside the train station, but that's another post, coming up.)

Immediately, walking into city center, we noticed how autumny it still was on a gorgeous day.
And of course, I started snapping away at all the architecture that still enthralls me.

That meant also noticing all the niches everywhere.
Remember that Belgium is Roman Catholic (while Holland is mostly Protestant).

 Speaking of Roman Catholic, here's Bruges' city church, St. Salvator's Cathedral.
In the 10th century it began as a parish church, becoming a cathedral in the 19th century.
It wasn't open as we entered city center...but it was as we left (see end of post).

The gable stones even in Belgium never disappoint.
As I mentioned on FaceBook, the bottom-right one is a typical "gaper head" (literally:  yawner) 
depicting the place as a pharmacy (see the pill?). They always make me laugh.

 Don't forget the weathervanes and manhole covers....

 ...and the roof toppers/ornamentals, very special to Bruges, and surely meaning something.

 When we see the organ grinders, we always want to take pictures,
so we toss in some coins and snap away.

Sometimes I even remember to take a video.  Short but sweet.
(You can even see the perforated scroll like for player pianos, which I always loved.)

 Once at the market square, we took our remember what we both had seen previously,
even if separately, in our past lives.  Yes, this is Bruges.

But first, we took a side street to find this café for lunch:  Beethoven.
What a quaint little place, serving French cuisine for up to 20 patrons.  Delightful.

Every time we go to Belgium, Astrid tries to get mussels...and these were the BEST, she said.
Since I'm not a mussels nut, I chose something I rarely have these days:  beef stew.
(Notice that my "stew" wasn't stewed with veggies but it still melted in my mouth.)

After lunch, we were on a mission!
We walked on the outskirts of the Christmas market in the square, to save it for late afternoon.
This Provincial Court building from 1294, on the square, is a masterpiece.

We wanted to get to the canal for a boat ride before it was too late.
But see that long line (top right)?

We decided to just hoof it around (on foot, that is) and get the main points,
always with the 12th century Belfry tower from the square looming overhead/behind.

When we wound our way back to the Christmas market, we window-shopped along the way.
Surely you know Belgium is known for its lace....

 ...and did someone say BELGIUM CHOCOLATE???
(just like the Dutch, the Belgiums can take a joke!)

By now, late afternoon, it was time to pay attention to the Christmas market.

After all, this is what we had come for.


Fun, irreverent, Christmassy Belgium.  How can you resist it!
Half a moon (as we left) was better than no moon at all.

And as we walked back to the train station, St. Salvator's Cathedral was open for Vespers.
Half a peek was better than no peek at all.

As we neared the train station, the morning's ferris wheel was all lit up.
It seemed an appropriate Good-Bye for what had been a delightful, sunshiny day.


  1. Incredible! I don't think you missed a thing.

    I was there in 1975 for a day en route to .... ? :)

    1. It's one of those cities that really caters to tourists, Ruth. And it's hard to forget it once you've been there! I'm so glad you, too, got to visit there all those years ago. WOW. I forgot that.

  2. Thanks for taking us along...I felt as if I was right there with you two! Love that country!!

    1. I know you love Belgium, Robin, and wonder if you ever made it to Brgues? If not, maybe the next time...while on your way to the Coastal Tram Ride! :)

  3. Oh my goodness, what a visit. The Christmas markets in Europe are in my bucket list. ARe they everywhere in Europe or typically just in Germany?

    I was unable to open your site for a while, Idk. Anyway, happy happy joy joy! Merry Christmas to the both of you.

    1. Christmas markets started in Germany, Maria, and have since spread out all over Europe, yes. We don't have many in the Netherlands. I guess most people would rather travel to Germany/Belgium. It makes for a fun day trip.

      I know you have been busy with your own travels, so it's good to see you again. Happy holidays to you both.

  4. I have a feeling we will be in Bruges again, some day. We covered a lot of space, but there is more to see I think and it is not that far away from us.
    The pictures are making it that I relive that wonderful day. The mussels were a delight as you stew. What a way to live (grin) Thank you for being my partner in crime and experience these wonderful things.

    1. I'm sure we'll go back, MLMA! Maybe we can do the boat ride then? I want to go to the abbey side of the canal. Yes, so much to see and we get to do it together.

  5. Mussels and chocolate (not together though)....another spot I have always wanted to visit! Stunning and loads of fun....

    1. It's hard to beat mussels, according to Astrid, and as hard to beat Belgium chocolate, according to me. HA! You'd love this part of the world, Donna. :)