Bruge – A town famous for chocolate and beer
A beautiful medieval city, made for wandering aimlessly, drinking beer and eating chocolate.
Accommodation: I stayed at St Christopher’s at the Bauhaus. Bruge is famous for it’s beer and this hostel has over 25 beers on offer. Bruge is small so there are only a couple of hostels so even though before I left I was warned it wasn’t totally accessible it was the best option. They placed me in a dorm room in the new building which was totally accessible with a wheelchair bathroom in the hall way which was just for me to use. Unfortunately it hadn’t been used in a while so the shower chair had been pulled out and the lock didn’t work. However after I asked the staff it was quickly fixed. The only problem access wise is that the bar is split level with two steps in between. However the staff are very helpful and will get you beer or breakfast (depending on the time of day), if you ask.
Transport: No need for transport the town is tiny and you can get around by pushing/walking. The beauty of Bruge is that everything is just so pretty and you feel like you are in a medieval fairy tale. If ever there was a place just to aimlessly wander around this would be it, but don’t worry about starving because there are plenty of chocolate shops you can get free samples from along the way.
Overall Accessibility: Bruge is an old medieval city built in the 1200s so it’s going to have some accessibility issues. There are quite a lot of cobblestones however they are more a mild nuisance rather than being completely prohibitive. Bruge is made up of canals so there are a lot of bridges. However because they are accessed by cars there are no steps over the bridges. Most of the boat tours which run up the canal have a set of steps that go down to them (however there is one boat company that has flat access) and some of the attractions have some steps (I’m looking at you chocolate museum). But the town itself is small and flat making it easy to get around.
Day 1 -Markt, Burg, Helig Bloedbasiliek, a boat ride, a chocolate museum and some beer tasting.
Because Bruge is just so pretty I got lost a lot just walking around so I didn’t really know the buildings I saw or their significance until i got back and looked it up. I was also suffering from the aftermath of too many delicious Belgium beers so wandering around suited me just fine. Bruge is made of two main squares. The Markt which is the main square and the Burg with many alleyways branching off these two main squares. The Markt has a massive Belfry tower which you can climb if you are able however I appreciated it from the ground (no lift access). On the Markt there is also a Historium (a medieval museum) which is partly accessible I didn’t go in as i didn’t want to spend the money. On the Burg is a church called the Helig Bloedbasiilek (Basilica of the Holy Blood) which holds a phial of blood of Christ bought back from Jerusalem. There is lift access but it’s a bit tricky to find but there are plenty of people around to help.
Bruge has a canal system running through it which is why it is called the Venice of the North and the thing to do is to go on a boat ride through the canals with a friendly informative guide. Most of the boats are docked down the bottom of a steep set of stairs. However there are a couple companies that take off from a flat access point. One such company is located is located near the Begijnhof (an old convent). You have to transfer onto the boat and leave your chair on the dock.
After the boat ride I decided to go to the chocolate museum. It has about 5 stairs to get in but is accessible once you get inside. I had some people help me up the stairs. However if I could turn back time I probably wouldn’t have bothered it wasn’t really worth it and you only got to sample a very small amount of chocolate.
The rest of the day was spent walking around and eating the Bruge delicacies of Belgium waffles, french fries with mayonnaise and mussels all washed down with delicious beer. Yes I probably gained about 5kg in my two days here alone.
My day was rounded off back at the hostel with a great beer tasting (ahh more beer), where one of the knowledgeable hostel staff talked about different beers and how they are made etc. Be sure to try one of the rarest beers in the world the Westvleteren brewed by Trappist monks ( the original micro brewing hipsters).
Day 2 – Aimless wandering, loosing all my chocolate and getting to Amsterdam.
I only had another morning here as I was catching a train to Amsterdam in the afternoon. So I just wandered around just again taking in the beauty, history and quaintness of this little town. I then got back to the hostel and caught a bus this time from the hostel to the train station. The hostel staff were really friendly and told me which bus to catch and it was fully accessible. Im starting to get braver and doing more stuff with my pack on like catching the bus which i wouldn’t have done a week before.
When I got to the train station I realised I had lost all my chocolate I bought previously which is probably one of the most devastating things to happen to me all trip. I then caught two trains one to Antwerp, the Antwerp to Amsterdam. This time I had organised my assistance in advance so had access off and on the train.
Arrived in Amsterdam and after having dinner with a lovely Dutch couple I met at the train station who wanted to share my table they directed me to my hostel. It was Friday night, the city was packed and my hostel was in the middle of the redlight district. It was tricky to navigate through the crowds and crossing roads with my pack – but again getting more confident with this.
And that’s all – until next time .. Amsterdam.