Following on from our Disney escapades, we continued to enjoy the convenience of the Eurostar and made our way to what is quite possibly one of the most adorable towns in the world – Bruges.
Seriously, this is actually what a regular street looks like
And if that’s not enough cuteness for you, check out one of the most popular modes of transport…his feet are so FLUFFY! It’s all too much for me!
I think we picked a particularly picturesque time to go as it was Christmas time and the markets were in full swing. Upon arrival we obviously had to sample some mulled wine (which I might add was half the price of your standard London drop). They added amaretto to ours and it was a strange taste but super warming. This was closely followed by another typical market dish – a big ole dirty sausage covered in onions and sauces. Nom.
You could simply wander around Bruges and soak up the beautiful scenery but it’s a little hard to handle if you’re not accustomed to the cold. Tom and I had to find places to hide every so often to defrost.
One place I’d recommend checking out is the Groening Museum. Nope this is not a tribute to the legendary Matt Groening of Simpsons fame but it is full of some very interesting artwork. You’ll find that the museums are all quite pricey considering we’re used to free entry in London but this one is really well presented and there’s nice flow to it. Also, the gruesome Flemish pieces are shocking and the detail is incredible.
Another place to check out if you get tired of the beer-frites-more beer-waffle cycle is Chocostory. It claims to be a museum but it’s also a bit like a tour. Couldn’t resist getting a shot at the entrance.
These oddly shaped characters (still haven’t figured out what they’re supposed to be) take you through the history of chocolate as you make your way through the building. There’s loads of ancient chocolate making/consuming tools and it’s all very interesting. We even spotted some (questionable) nutrition advice…
Yes the Belgians are enablers and I’m all about it.
After the educational bit comes the best part – sampling the goods. You wander through a functioning workshop full of crazy (cannibalistic?) chocolate sculptures
Then a chocolatier takes you through the process for making chocolate.
Our host was a real character and amazingly, managed to communicate in three languages at once. We found out that white chocolate ‘isn’t real chocolate’ because of the cocoa content. We also learnt that the chocolate tastes bloody good. This brand is THE best in Belgium (or so say the owners of the museum). It also happens to be the brand made on site.
With a brief sugar rush, we decided we had to trek up the most prominent landmark in the city – the Belfry.
Be warned, if you’re there on the weekend you will have to queue in the freezing cold to head up. It’s also a bit expensive but totally worth it for the views.
The most interesting part is the level with the giant music box that controls the tune that the bells play. It’s incredible to see it in action – apparently the tune is only changed every two years because it’s such an effort to do it.
Word of advice, get up on the ledge at this level for the best views of the town. Up the top it is incredibly exposed and you do NOT want to be there when those bells go off. It’s also a very tight squeeze so don’t go too hard on the beersies and chocolate before climbing.
After all that, a beverage is well earnt so if you fancy learning a little something before you indulge, the Halve Maan brewery tour is a fun thing to get amongst. This is a fully functioning brewery that has been in the same family for generations. It also makes one of the tastiest beers I’ve ever tried – the Brugse Zot Blond. The crazy thing about Belgian beer is that it is so strong – some are almost 12%! The blond is a happy medium though (only around the 6% mark).
Before sampling, we explored the depths of the brewery and got to sneak up onto the roof where we had another stunning view of the town. Get ready to ‘awwww’…
We then retired to the on site bar which is very cosy. I love the way they serve the beer in goblet like glasses. Much classier than clasping your warm English pint. I also love that dinner here seems to be that annoying meal that gets in the way of dessert. We ended up having waffles smothered in cream for tea that night…when in Bruges!
That pretty much sums up our time in the totes adorbs little town. I should quickly mention where we stayed though as it’s a great little place. It’s called Antares BnB and the place looks like a house out of Grand Designs (as Tom pointed out when we arrived). Everything is modern, clean and new. The rooms are spacious, the hosts are friendly and they put on a mean spread for breakfast including freshly baked bread, eggs, homemade yoghurt, coffee, freshly squeezed juice and…chocolate (it is Belgium after all).
One thing worth noting is that it’s about a 10 minute bus ride out of the old town (which is where you will spend all your time in Bruges). This proves problematic at night when the buses seem to stop. Apparently there are night buses but we struggled to find any and didn’t have the patience for waiting for them in the cold so ended up in taxis.
Oh yeah, we also spent a few hours in Brussels on our way back to London. Ummm about that – meh. Go the extra mile to Bruges I reckon. As they say in that film everyone tells you to watch before you go there – it’s a f#*&%ng fairytale.