A lifestyle expat travel blog about culture, history, Brexit, the Royal Family, travels around the world, Europe, and being British in Berlin!
Now just because it’s April, doesn’t mean that it isn’t going to snow!
In Europe, we’re getting all kinds of weather.
One minute it’s a sunny Spring morning.
The next, it’s freezing!
In fact, as I write this piece, it’s snowing.
Where have you been?
If you’re just joining, here’s really what you missed:
What an exciting first quarter of the year I’ve had!
As you know, The British Berliner is not only a British – German in name, but on paper too.
Yep! Victoria now has Dual Nationality.
I’ve written a fantastic post (even if I say so myself) on what you need to do if you’re British, and looking to obtain EU nationality too.
I’m still British of course, but I’m German too.
And isn’t that something!
One of the merits of living in Germany, is the ease in which one can travel through the Continent.
My favourite mode of travel is by train, and sometimes even by coach-bus.
And one of those ways is by flying!
Every January, The Tall Young Gentleman and I, spend some quality time together either visiting some dubious destination, or skiing!
This time around, I decided to take him to Bruges.
But did I tell you that I flew there.
Via a budget airline.
And not just any airline mind you.
Where to start?
Belgium, otherwise known as the Kingdom of Belgium, is a country in the Western part of Europe, unlike Croatia which is in the Balkans, Latvia which is in Central Europe or Poland which is in the Eastern part of Europe!
It is bordered between Germany, Holland, France and Luxembourg.
It’s a very small country and has a population of just eleven (11) million people!
Culturally, Belgium is Dutch-speaking (59%), French-speaking (40%), and if it couldn’t get more complicated, German-speaking (1%) too!
The Dutch-speakers tend to be Flemish and live in a region called the Flanders, the French-speakers are Walloon, and the German-speakers are the minority, who live around the borders of Belgium close to Germany!
Belgium is, like Switzerland, officially bilingual being Flemish (Dutch-speaking) and French, and known as being from the Low Countries, or the Benelux group of states, consisting of Northern France, West Germany, Holland, Luxembourg and Belgium itself.
Belgium is a most important nation as it’s one of the six (6) founding countries of the European Union (EU), hosts the official seats of the European Commission, the Council of the European Union, the European Council, as well as a seat of the European Parliament in the country’s capital, Brussels.
Belgium is also a founding member of the Eurozone, NATO, OECD, and WTO, a part of the trilateral Benelux Union and the Schengen Area.
Belgium has had trouble with terrorism in the last few years, as have many other European countries, but it’s a developed country, with an advanced high-income economy, very high standards of living, friendly locals, interesting food, and is relatively safe and peaceful!
Belgium was a Roman province known as Gallia Belgica and was a prosperous centre of business, commerce, trade and culture from the Middle Ages, right up to the 17th century. During this period, Belgium became prosperous, and participated in the colonization of the African continent.
During the Belgian Revolution in 1830, Belgium spilt away from Holland, and became independent in its own right. However, Belgium also became the “Battlefield of Europe, ” was occupied by Germany in WWI and WWII, as well as 20th century tensions between the Dutch and French-speaking parts of Belgium, leading to a sort of federal state, controversial language laws, and a distinct type of separatism around the Flemish region.
Having said that, Belgium has seen the flourishing of major artistic movements that have had great influence on European art and culture, with architecture and paintings being especially astounding, and historically relevant.
One of those places is Bruges.
Bruges, otherwise known as Brugge (Dutch) or Bruges (French), is the capital and largest city of West Flanders in the Flemish Region of Belgium!
Bruges has a mass of roughly 13,840 hectares and 1,075 hectares off the coast, at Zeebrugge, otherwise known as Brugge aan zee or “Bruges by the Sea.”
It has a population of 117,073, of which about 20,000 people live in the city centre.
The beautiful historic city centre is a UNSECO World Heritage Site and is roughly 430 hectares in size.
Bruges was first mentioned as Bruggas, Brvggas, and Brvccia (in 840–875), then as Bruciam, Bruociam (in 892), Brutgis uico (at the end of the 9th century), Bruggensi (1010), Bruggis (1012), Bricge (1037, in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle), Brugensis (1046), Brycge (1049–1052), Brugias (1072), Bruges (1080–1085), Bruggas (1084), Brugis (1089), and Brugge (1116)!
Bruges is derived from the Old Dutch word for bridge – brugga. But some experts say it could also be from Middle Dutch – brucge, brugge, brugghe, brigghe, bregghe, brogghe, Southern Dutch – brugghe. Perhaps even from the Anglo-Saxon word – brugjō – which later became known as the word bridge!
Because I love to spend all my time rambling!
You know how much I love strolling along cobbled stones of yore, and poking my nose into every nook and cranny.
Belgium does that for you.
Bruges is also a city that has a river running through it ‘cos my love for waterside destinations, and rivers, brooks and lakes, is well known!
Along with a few other canal-based northern cities, such as Amsterdam, Bruges is sometimes referred to as The Venice of the North.
Our beautiful 4-star hotel – Martin’s Relais was right next to the canal. In fact, it’s historical name is Oud Huis Amsterdam – and between you and me, the view is very much like being in Holland!
Without the seedy bits!
I take visiting museums quite seriously, and was delighted to be able to work in partnership with Musea Brugge, who very kindly gave us complimentary museum passes.
Thank you so much!
So without further ado, here are the museums and galleries that I recommend:
Having said that, most of the Bruges museum collection is interesting, historical, and at the same time, perfectly contemporary!
Bruges is a city of history and culture, and since I like Old Art and architectural treasures very much my type of city.
This article isn’t sponsored, and even though we received complimentary museum passes from Musea Brugge, absolutely all opinions, and the great time that we had, are my very own!
I went to Belgium. Find out more, next week!
I’ll be continuing my last visit to the UK and telling you all about it, later in the season!
In a few weeks, I’ll be on the road again to my 65th country and a new destination.
Can you guess which one it’ll be?
If you’re not in Berlin in April, you’re going to miss all the fun!
April is going to be blooming!
See you next week!
Watch this space!
Note! I never travel without insurance as you never know what might happen.
I learnt my lesson in Spain. And obviously, in countries like Qatar, where technically the risk is higher, I can’t imagine going that far beyond WITHOUT INSURANCE. No siree! You can get yours here, at World Nomads!
Please note that there are now affiliate links (for the very first time) connected to this post. Please consider using the links, because every time some sort of accommodation or travel insurance is booked via my links, I get a little percentage, but at no extra cost to yourself!
A win-win for all!
Thanks a million!
I have visited Bruges but only for one day 🙁 such a shame since there are lots to see there. I did go up the Belfry Tower to get the fab views. It was just before Christmas, everything looked so pretty with all the decorations. I loved the chocolate there and Brian enjoyed the beer. I would definitely like to go back and stay for longer. The winter has been lingering here also and we had quite a lot of snow, can’t wait for warm weather 🙂
Thanks so much Gilda! Bruges really is a pretty little place. Somehow, I always seem to travel to Western Europe in the winter. Mind you, I couldn’t believe how uncrowded it was. In fact, the lovely seafood restaurants that I had dreamed of visiting, were closed until March!
p.s. I love winter, but right now it’s going on for far too long. I mean, we had “snow” three times last week. I could only look at my garden and think “Not again!” 😉
We’re having similar weather here in the mid-Atlantic region [in the US]. Whatever snow we had didn’t last long.
For those who are interested in royalty, Belgium is a fantastic place as any to get your fix! 🙂
Isn’t it crazy Elisa! I reckon that we’re probably going to have another freak storm one more time. Before May! And they say global warming is a myth! Anyhoo, yep! yep! As far as the British monarchy is concerned, I’m a huge fan, as you know. I don’t know much about the Belgian branch, but I can certainly learn. Thanks so much Elisa! 😀
It was pretty cold around here too, way more than l thought it would be..but seems the same everywhere. My friends in L.A were complain about the cold too. I’ve been to Bruges. I liked it, but l did prefer Ghent :-). Both are fantastic of course. I hope to make it back at some point. Glad you had fun!
Thanks so much KemKem. It’s been mad!
I’m glad that you liked Bruges, So did The Tall Young Gentleman! I haven’t yet been to Ghent or Antwerp, but I hear they’re both just as pretty. Here’s to more of Belgium. Yay! 😀
The weather was pretty crazy this time round, reminiscent of 2013? When it snowed heavily for a couple of days in March?
I loved Brugge when I visited. It was in the humidity of summer, and easant and quaint and oh so medieaval. I especially loved the classical music from the street performers, and everything was so lovely. Brugge is my favorite small town..so much so that I found Krakow underwhelming.
Thanks so much Caroline!
I tell you. We had snow right up to April! I even remember having snow in May one year. That was mad! Bruges is lovely, but so is Krakow. Each “Old Town” or “Alt Stadt” has something different to offer. The most important thing is that we’re lucky enough to be able to visit them with no trouble at all. I remember pre-EU when all the currencies were different, and there were borders from country to country. I just hope that we don’t go back to that. 🙁
Mind you, in those days, when we used to drive to Eastern Europe, we would buy cheap vodka and stuff bottles down our dirty washing…! 😉
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