The last time I was in Bruges I was supporting a 7-month-preggers friend as she huffed and puffed her way up the bellfry. I remember thinking that if pregnancy was such an inconvenience, a child would be the ultimate in derailing your travel experience…
Oh my, the times have changed!
This is me now. Pretending to share my coffee with our newborn son. I don’t even drink coffee…it belongs to Joel of course. If he was a single father I’d put my odds on him feeding River coffee rather than milk. Thankfully I am around to supervise!
But somehow, believe it or not, I’m having an equally good time. If you add in those moments where you catch your baby boy staring at things in wonder for the very first time…maybe Bruges round #two even trumps it.
For those playing at home, I can confirm that Bruges is as beautiful as ever. If you wanted to design a city to stroll in, Bruges would be the blueprint. We had River in the ergo baby most of the time and thanked our lucky stars he likes napping in it. Cobblestones and prams are not the best of friends! When you are thrust in to a world of parenthood you are thrust in to it with additives. All of which you must carry alongside your child. Nappies, wipes (really truly don’t forget those!), a spare change of absolutely every item of clothing, maybe a dummy, a few ‘just in case’ items such as a jumper, something to dangle and entertain them, a change mat, essential medicines aka teething granules, a cloth and I can’t even imagine everything else that you’d need if you were bottle feeding. So, basically…you need two people. One for the baby, one for the provisions. Just a heads up for anyone planning a trip with a baby! When Riv gets older he can carry his own things!! He will owe me some backpack hours by then!
I truly cannot recall how the hours passed. Probably because I was eating more than a reasonable amount of waffles. There is such a thing as “waffle panic”. That’s when more than half of the day has passed without a waffle. Thankfully it can be quickly remedied at almost any establishment in Bruges. I can’t believe I didn’t even get a picture of said activities. Clearly I had been whisked away on a tastebud journey and lost all other senses.
Perhaps we were ambitious when we joined two walking tours. One was in the evening when we hadn’t quite realised that River needed a bedtime yet. He can’t really be blamed for screaming down the cobbled streets so loudly that even two corners away the guide couldn’t be heard trying to talk to his group. We clearly didn’t document that moment, so here is one from when he was the role model tourist baby.
Some things never change, even with a baby. One of those things being my pursuit of seeing something new. So with Riv in tow we took a lovely old paddlesteamer all the way to Damme. I’m trying to be positive about the experience because everyone else was cycling from Bruges through treelined boulevards and fields of flowers and picturesque farmland. I wanted to be one of them. But then I reminded myself that I had my cub and in a year or two he will be dominating on a bike, so we have all that to look forward to! As you may have picked up, I recommend riding if you are considering a little daytrip.
Yes Bruges is touristic, but there is no surprise why that is the case. Every corner is quaint, each street is colourful and full of character. If you search hard enough you may just find a canal so peaceful you are the only one there (well, if you don’t count the swans). In particular the early morning and late evening you can walk around undisturbed as though you are in a medieval novel. The churches are grand and there is an impressive array of museums and cultural events on offer. It is more expensive than I had remembered so you will need a fair budget for food, unless you are like me and live off waffles :). As our days with a wee one consist of walking, feeding, sleeping, nappy changing – repeat… Bruges suited us just fine. It is a lovely city to wile away the hours, being content to do, well, not much at all!
As always, with children, the highlight ends up being the mutual time you share centred around them with your family by your side. We were fortunate enough to share this time with Marnie and Pa who doted upon him from dawn till dusk. Riv rewarded them by sleeping through the night thank goodness. Belgian homes are creaky and not exactly designed to deaden sound! So I’ll close with a treasured picture of the three of them which couldn’t be happier if it tried!