By far my favorite place on our travels this summer was Bruges. I've been wanting to go there ever since I watched the dark comedy In Bruges. If you haven't seen it yet, make sure you do. Don't get offended. Just laugh. And then check out the setting because it's gorgeous.
Bruges is every bit as magical as the film makes it seem. It's so adorably historic it almost felt unreal. Even the walk into the center of town from our cheap hotel near the train station was full of fascinating little details and intriguing alleyways. I wanted to stay forever.
Because it's so iconic in the film, we had to climb to the top of the bell tower. It's quite steep and windy, and while going up was a definite cardio challenge, it was going back down that was actually pretty scary. If you're nervous at all about heights, you'll definitely need to practice your deep breathing here. I recommend going there first thing in the morning before it gets busy. The spiral stairs aren't really wide enough for two-way traffic, so you don't won't to fight the crowds trying to get back down without falling. There are some cool displays of the bells on the way up, and the views from the top are really cool.
We also went on a canal boat ride which was a great way to see some sites a bit further out from the center of town without having to walk miles and miles. (We still walked miles and miles, but we're just weird.)
There are some extravagant old churches to explore, each with varying levels of what you can see without paying. There are also quite a few museums, but they're all paid admission. We like to keep it cheap, so we chose the bell tower and canal boat as our paid attractions for the day. I definitely want to go back and check out some different stuff, though.
Basically, the whole place is like a living museum. The architecture was completely different from anything I had ever experienced. As always, I loved just wandering around and looking up and all the buildings and houses and signs and skyline that make Bruges so unique.
We did go wandering and found a giant windmill which was pretty awesome.
The major drawback to Bruges is that the restaurants and cafes are all a bit pricey. Seeing as how their economy mainly relies on tourism, it's not that easy to find a cheap place to eat, unless you want to go all the way to Belgium just to end up at McDonald's. I'm not at all above eating frites or waffles and ice cream from street vendors. It's the way to go in my opinion.
Bruges has my heart. I would go back there in a minute. I could just walk up and down every street for hours on end just getting lost in my own imagination. Get there and fall in love.