So, where did I leave off... I think we were about to climb 366 steps. You know when you see those signs in London tube stations, giving you the option of climbing x number of steps instead of waiting for the lift, and you think you're so fit and young that it's really no biggie and it starts off just fine. And then 3/4 of the way through, you're wondering if you've entered a parallel universe where the stairs are never-ending and it's some kind of trippy joke? Well, it was sort of like that, except with a bit of a Indiana Jones vibe mixed in - the staircase was incredibly narrow and perilous.
Neverthess, the Belfort one of the most iconic buildings in Bruges and is 83 metres high, promising to reward you with a panoramic view of the city after your little workout. The bells of the tower are also impressive - since the 16th century, they've had a carillon (a hand keyboard) to play the bells, which explains why we heard tunes such as the Beethoven Od to Joy whilst walking around town!
We managed to reach the top of the tower without breaking any limbs, and although the entire (small) area at the top where you can look out at the view is netted for safety, it was a stunning scene nonetheless and not a problem for taking photos. It was very windy up there though - not somewhere we wanted to lounge around in (and after reading that the tower leans 1 metre to the East, definitely not), but definitely worth the climb.
The Belfort is just one of the architectural gems surrounding the famous Markt (Market Square) of Bruges. It's a busy square, always bustling with people, and lined with cafés and restaurants that are probably tourist traps, but are perfect for people watching. On Wednesday mornings, they have an open market with produce, meat, snacks and sweets, which we were lucky enough to be there for. There were locals and visitors alike, and I'm slightly regretting not trying the chicken they were selling - they looked delicious and seemed very popular.
Just a little street down from this main square, there is another smaller one, Burg Square. It's quieter, but beautiful and charming, and it's where you'll find the Town Hall, Bishop's Palace and the Holy Basilica. It also looked like a popular place for horse carriages to catch tourists, though we mainly used this square for one thing. To eat the best waffles we'd ever had.
But that's coming next time - the foodie highlights of the trip, all rolled into one, hunger-inducing post!