on July 12, 2012
When we visited Bruges in May we were lucky enough to have really good weather and it was sunny and warm most of the time which was a relief as it had been raining non-stop for weeks beforehand (and afterwards for that matter). As a lot of the pleasure in Bruges is getting out and about to explore the city by walking around this meant it was much more enjoyable and relaxing instead of worrying about being wet and cold the whole time. One other benefit of the warm weather was that we could go on a guided boat tour of the city without shivering the whole time as the boats in Bruges are open topped so not really ideal for when the weather is awful. For me personally a boat tour is the best way to orientate yourself with the city and there is something about it that is just so quintessentially Bruges about it. Boat tours in Bruge start from one of five different places and you can easily find them as they are in the most popular parts of the city and there is usually a crown of people waiting to go on them. Prices are quite reasonable considering this is Bruges after all and I found that almost everything in the city was expensive. For adults the price is 7.90 Euros, children it is 3.40 Euros and if you have a Bruge city card the tours are free. What you get for your money is half an hour in the boat visiting all the places of interest in the city than the boat can reach. Because the bridges of Bruges are nearly all low the boats are quite small and as they stuff as many people on the boat as humanly possible it can feel quite overcrowded but this is a small price to pay especially when the weather is as nice as it was for us. You might also have to sit on the boat for quite a while waiting for it to fill up as understandably they want the maximum amount of people on the boat as possible. As we were the first people on the boat we waited a good 20 minutes for the boat to fill up so I was glad I had plenty of sunscreen on as there was no shade and the sun was blazing down. At the front of the boat is the driver who also doubles as a tour guide who gives information on everything that you pass. What I thought was quite good was that the guide would give the information out in not only English but also Dutch, German and French as well. He had a microphone so everything was clear even from the back of the boat where we were sitting. The guide was local so he knew a lot about the city and some of the information he was giving wasn’t even in my guidebook so I found it fascinating to listen to him. The sights that you see are all things that you will probably see on foot as Bruges is a small city but it does give you a different perspective seeing them from the water and you do also get to see some things that you can’t really see from the roads. All the main sights are included and there are loads of scenic buildings and sights to take pictures of. Some of the most interesting for me personally was getting to see the houses where locals live closer up. It must be amazing to live somewhere so picturesque all the time. The water did smell a little and looked filthy so I wouldn’t recommend putting your hand in it no matter how warm the weather! One other thing to watch out for is the low bridges and we were told on a couple of occasions to duck as we were going under some particularly low ones. For the tall people out there make sure that you slouch down as far as possible in the boat. I thought that half an hour was the ideal amount of time for the trip. In that space of time we got to see all the main sights and got a lot of information from the guide packed into a short amount of time. I would have loved to have been able to go off the main tourist trail and explore some of the other canals but this isn’t really possible unfortunately due to the low bridges. If you decide to do the boat trip on your first day in Bruges it will give you a better understanding of the geography of the city and the best way to find your way about. We did the trip on our last day and I don’t think that this detracted anything from the experience as we still enjoyed seeing everything from a different perspective and also it was something I really wanted to do as I don’t think that you can come to Bruges and not do a boat trip. It was also just a really nice way to spend half an hour relaxing after walking so much. Bruges is an absolutely gorgeous city. At times it is almost like walking around an amusement park as everything is just so picturesque and a boat tour is an ideal way to appreciate it and one that I would highly recommend to anyone visiting the city be it their first time there or their 20th.
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