Well, what is there to say about Bruges, Belgium (Brugge) that hasn’t already been said in one of my favorite films in recent memory, In Bruges?
While visiting a friend and vacationing in Amsterdam, the siren songs of Bruges were impossible to resist. Depending on how many transfers you have, Bruges is just a three to four hour train ride from Amsterdam, and what better way to see more of Northern Europe than by train? It was interesting to see the flat farmlands of The Netherlands, reclaimed from the water through their ingenious designs of dikes, dams and canals. Off in the distance windmills both ancient and modern could be seen and quaint small towns were passed by until we reached Belgium. On the way back to Amsterdam we even got to see a little bit of Antwerp during an hour layover at possibly the world’s most beautiful train station. Who knew, however, that Belgium is apparently considered the armpit of Northern Europe, as my friend (who has lived in both Belgium and New Jersey – another famous armpit we share in heritage) confirmed the theory I was developing while the train rattled through more small towns and rundown graffiti-strewn cities. But…who cares when Belgium is also home to the world’s best waffles, chocolate and beer? And…well…Bruges.
Martin McDonagh’s endearing black comedy captured Bruges perfectly. When Ken (Brendan Gleeson) fumbles over the phone with Harry (Ralph Fiennes) when trying to describe how Ray (Colin Farrell) felt about Bruges…he was spot on. Getting off at the train station, your first thought might be what the hell…maybe Bruges is a shit hole? But as soon as your feet hit those cobblestone streets and your eyes take in all the architecture, churches and canals, Belgium’s best preserved medieval city really is like a fuckin’ fairytale, innit? I mean, honest to god, Bruges is probably the most unabashedly beautiful city I have ever seen. Bruges knows exactly what it is, why people come, and it luxuriates you in its very essence. Continue reading