Museums are closed on Mondays
Avoid visiting Brugge (Bruges) on a Monday.
All the museums are closed. The Belfort Tower is closed.
Also Monday is the day when the people of Brugge have their garbage collected so there will be dustbins and rubbish bags outside the houses.
Medieval City just down the road
If you love Brugge's architecture and medieval atmosphere, I suggest you also visit Ghent. Just as pretty, but hardly any tourists, and the locals are extemely friendly. The restaurants also have much better food. Check out my Ghent page for a hotel recommendation as well. I loved Ghent, and only marginally liked Brugge.
Basilica of the Holy Blood
This is the inside view of the Basilica. Admission fees must be paid to see the musium next to the upper chapel. However, I visited, the upper chapel which is free ofcourse?
This section was said to have received a Neo-Gothic facelift in the 19th century, and it accomodates the relics of the Holy Blood which are worshiped every Friday. Legends has it that Count Diederik of Alsace was given a few drops of Jesus Christs Holy Blood during the crusade in Jerusalem as he was returning to Flanders.
Every year, the Holy Blood Procession takes place in honour of the Holy Blood.
Gourmet Belgium pt. 1 - their delicious chocolate
You know what they say - there's a lot of truth in every cliché. Us Belgians love chocolate, and we're discerning - period. If you consider that this tiny country has close to 500 producers of handmade or factory-made chocolate items, you realize just how important this market really is -and no, it's not just export. The total annual consumption of chocolate products (including bars, pralines, spread, pastries, sauces, and so on) is in the 100.000 tonnes range, which makes for a whopping 10 kilograms ... per head !
Belgian chocolate is a mixture of cocoa paste, sugar and cocoa butter in proportions which vary according to the type of chocolate. The dark, bitter chocolate we call 'fondant' contains up to 70% full fat cocoa paste. The lighter, brown "milk chocolate", easily the most popular, has a high portion of milk in it, and lastly "white chocolate" retains only the butter from the cocoa, with sugar and milk added.
Other than chocolate bars and pastries with chocolate toppings and all varieties in between, hollow figures are popular around easter (early spring) and St. Nicholas (as of November).
The most refined form of chocolate is the praline, supposedly invented in 1912 by Neuhaus - still one of the major players in the market today. Other names include Guylian's (known for their shell- and shellfish-shaped chocolates, very popular at the Belgian seaside), Cote D'or, Jacques and Callebaut (mainly bars), Godiva, Léonidas (excellent and affordable pralines) and many, many more. Bruges of course has dozens and dozens of "Chocolatiers", but even in smaller and less touristy places, you'll find at least one on every major street. Even the bakeries often sell pralines - not to mention yummy cream-filled pastries with chocolate toppings, such as "éclairs".
Did I already mention we love this stuff ?
Unpredictable weather in May
If you go in May, make sure you bring an umbrella and a raincoat, as well as a sweater or two. The weather was very unpredictable. One minute it was warm and sunny and I had to take off my jackets, and five minutes later it would be windy and raining. Bring comfortable shoes (sommething that won't soak through). While we were in Brugge, it rained every day.