The Belgian city of Bruges made us fall in love with it during the two days we spent there in May last year, and we knew we had to come back. But the splendid Egmond Hotel in the old town was worth 115 EUR per day, including an amazing breakfast. Is it possible to find anything less expensive? Yes, it’s possible as it turns out! But for this, you should live in a rented accommodation in Bruges, not in a hotel.
We were lucky to see a great variety of such accommodations during our first walks there–from tiny houses to nearly palaces.
After a quick search on the Internet, my navigator (ma wife) quickly has found the site www.belvilla.com and our future house in Bruges. If you speak a little English (or any of nine languages represented at the site) and have a credit card, it’s not difficult to rent an accommodation for a week or more. You have a choice: to pay for the whole period, or make a small down payment and pay the balance within three months.
Here is our Bruges accommodation—a small yellow Zoe’s Cottage at Rolweg 37.
The minimum rental period is one week, and the rest depends on your wishes and the availability of rental dates. One week costs 470 EUR (that was in 2012). It is much more reasonable than any decent hotel in the old part of Bruges.
Later, at parting, the hostess gave me her calling card with her personal e-mail address in case I wish to rent this house for the next time. I suspect that the cost will be even lower.
Upon your arrival the owners will take 200 EUR in cash from you as a deposit. They will deduct light and gas charges out of it (there is a boiler for hot water) and you’ll get the balance back on your account after departure (you should have the details of your bank account with you so they can make the money transfer). We paid about 30 EUR for gas and light for a period of six days.
Those were the financial details; now for the pure romance.
We were promised that we would be living in an old medieval accommodation. It is true, the house was really old. Everything inside looked ancient, but carefully repaired. There were pictures of the grandma and grandpa of the current hostess, Fabien, on the walls, and the house had a gas chimney.
However, there were all the modern conveniences.
We were promised a wonderful view from the window–we got it, without a doubt. This is a tower of Jerusalem Church. You sit at a table on the first floor, drinking your morning coffee, and see all THIS!
At night, when you are going to sleep on the second floor of your house in Bruges after a walk along antique paved streets, all THIS is saying goodnight to you.
And if you suddenly awaken in the middle of the night you will hear THIS…
It must be said that the concert will continue in the morning.
This song is sung in the garden of Jerusalem Church, which occupies a lot of land behind the stone wall, almost the whole neighborhood.
The first thing you see in the morning, just opening your eyes, is…
So, we woke up in the morning, were surprised at this happiness, drank our coffee…
…and were ready to continue our walks
Usually, we went to the Queen’s square or to the marketplace of Bruges. There, we had free Wi-Fi (we did not have Internet access at the house). We sat down on a bench amid medieval castles, houses, and cafes, switched on the Sommy (full name is Samsung Galaxy Tab), checked the e-mails, and dealt with urgent business matters for about 15 minutes.
Then we had free time, because the famous film, “In Bruges,” does not convey even one-hundredth of the city’s charm. One can simply stroll along the streets of old Bruges looking at its houses and dream of buying some accommodation to turn it into a family hotel or café, or rent it out.
You also want to visit one of two French cheese shops to buy a new assortment of the fragrant products for dinner. Every day we had a new mix. Both shops are situated at Geldmundstraat within 5-7 minutes’ walk from the central square Markt. You can find them by following your nose. 🙂
Visit any local store to buy French wine, greens, and meat for dinner.
If it is Wednesday, you can go to the central square of Bruges with its farmers’ market to buy some farm products or yet another window flower. But we don’t need the last because we are citizens of Bruges only for a week.
Now, we can bring our purchases back home—fortunately the old center of Bruges is not too large, though bigger than in Riga—and go for a walk again.
If you prefer traveling by car, you can rent it right at the Brussels airport. In 2012, a new Citroen C3 in Sixt.com cost 417,73 EUR for six days with all necessary insurances and GPS-navigation. The owners of the cottage have their own garage a short distance away. It cost 50 EUR per week.
Are there any disadvantages of such a rest? Yes, there are.
We were not alone in liking the view from our window, because every hour of the day, small and colorful city tourist buses stopped in front of our window. Tourists with earphones listened to some information—it was in complete silence for us—took photos of the pretty tower of Jerusalem Church, and continued on their way moments later.
Besides that, from time to time, some group of tourists hung out near our window to take photos. Sometimes they peeped into our window where we were decorously tasting wine and cheese, and perhaps they thought, “These are the real citizens of Bruges living their good life.” 🙂
I can’t say, that eating at home is a disadvantage, because the cuisine in local cafes is not perfect–homemade food is always better and less expensive.
What about Bruges attractions? All right, let’s talk about it in the next story.