My wife and I are traveling to Belgium in May of 2016 and our flight is supposed to land in Brussels at 8:30 AM on the 5th. We intended to go directly to Brugge for 4 nights, but have just discovered that May 5th is the day of the Procession of the Holy Blood. Would it be a mistake to try and make it to the procession on such a short timetable? From what I understand, the procession starts at 14:30. I'd love to see it, but I hate feeling rushed on my first day. If it's not worth it, then we can tour another city first and then circle back around to Brugge later in our trip. Any insight would be appreciated. Thanks!
Check timetables at www.belgianrail.be closer to the time, but at the moment there is a fast train direct from the airport to Brugge at xx:59 on weekdays. If you miss that one, you can get there by taking a train to Bruxelles Midi and changing to a Brugge train there. Either route will take about ninety minutes, so you should get to Brugge with enough time to check into your hotel first.
Great advice from Phil. Your profile doesn't show your home country, so we can't point out if your Immigration line will be longer for Non-EU passengers. Some gates in BRU (particularly United) are very far from civilization. Train boarding is really easy in BRU.
Most train passengers to Brugge take the local bus, about 1 mile, AFAIR, to the historic center, from in front of the train station. (Check Google Maps for your hotel, really useful.) All towns in Belgium use the same bus/tram tickets EXCEPT Brussels.
You didn't ask, but I wouldn't spend four nights in Brugge. Many other posters here disagree with me.
Here's the absolutely critical question - have you already confirmed your hotel reservations?
On the week of the Procession, most of France arrives in Bruges for the religious observation and an already busy city gets very very busy indeed. Hotels will be rare and expensive.
If you already have it set, that 's great.
I've been there many times both for the Procession and many other times. We like the place very much - I'm not sure 4 nights worth - and usually find something we haven't seen before.
Your times should work out OK.
Don't underestimate how crowded the city can be on the day of the Procession.
We bought seats in the grandstand. That was a very good idea as we could see everything and we were (relatively) comfortable.
You are so right, Nigel. Years ago three of us arrived in Bruges without hotel reservations. We went to the Tourist Office to arrange for a room, which is how we travelled in those days, and that's when we got educated about the Holy Blood. Nothing, nothing, nothing available. But along came a woman who asked if we needed accommodation, and offered us two rooms and breakfast in her apartment, where she lived with her elderly mother. Apparently, the people who had reserved at her B&B had not turned up so she had gone to the T.I. to find replacements.
Thanks for all the great advice. I think we'll circle back around to Brugge later in our stay. I think I'd enjoy Brugge more absent the massive crowds the procession will draw.
That may well be a good decision for you.
I am not Roman Catholic and I enjoyed the procession very much. It is very mediaeval and quite unusual and different from other ones that you may have seen elsewhere.
But if the crowds may bother you it may be a good idea to return later in the week.