There are quite a few cities in Northern Europe which are referred to as, "Venice of the North". Bruges in Belgium is one of them. Bruges, originating from the dutch for Bridge, was an important trading center thanks to its location near the sea, between 12th-15th century. It had probably one of the first stock exchanges in the world, way back in the start of the 14th century which shows its importance as a center of commerce.
However, today it is known as a tourist destination getting millions of visitors every year. And if you walk around the place, you will realise why. It is a town straight out of medieval fairytale, with cobbled streets, beautiful canals, old houses and ancient churches. We spent only one day in the town and the verdict was unanimous- its a place not to be missed!
This was the canal across the street from our Hostel. We wanted to take a shortcut to the city center but went the wrong way (thankfully...in hindsight) and ended up spending more than an hour walking by this beautiful, idyllic neighbourhood. An elderly couple sitting by the canal in the bright sunshine, couple of cyclists slowly riding by, solitary walkers ambling by with their dogs, a lady doing her Sunday long run... these were the scenes we were soaking in during our walk when a sudden shout from behind made us turn around to find a group of cyclists coming down the path at a fast pace. We barely managed to jump away, before they zipped past us. Finally, we reached back where we had started from... the graffiti filled footbridge... and an elderly gentleman walking his dog, helped us find the right way to the City Center.