We continued our canal tour of Europe with Bruges, nicknamed Venice of the North. Well, Venice was pretty fresh in our memories so we’d be the judge of that lofty claim.
Each city is full of character, photo ops and, of course, canals. But the character, photo ops and canals couldn’t be more different. Bruges is distinctly Flemish and I’ve always had a soft spot for Flanders. But seriously show me a person who doesn’t love Jan Van Eyck?
In stark contrast to Venice, Bruges has roads alongside it’s canals. Bikes and buses are preferable to water transport. The row houses are brick and tidy, yet colorful and narrow, giving them a strange mix of sobriety and whimsy. And with all of the fantastic artisan Belgian beers available at the cozy cafes, that’s where the sobriety ends.
It’s Christmastime so the quaint fantasy of Bruges was intensified with lights and horse drawn carriages and outdoor markets selling hot wine. The charm extended to it’s residents who, after serving a meal, actually said “thank you” with a genuine smile.
We loved both cities, not really for what makes them similar, but for the uniqueness that sets them apart. I love a city with a distinct vibe and the Venices’ of both the South and North had no shortage in that department.