27 January 2016

A Day in Bruges

If you saw my last post about my overnight ferry trip, you'll know I spent a happy day in beautiful Bruges before Christmas. We only had about eight hours to explore the city in between coach drop-off and pick-up times, but there's plenty to be seen and done in this lovely place even in such a short time!

bruges blog review

If you visit Bruges on one of the P&O Ferries minicruises the drop off point for the coach is a little way out of the city centre, and the most picturesque walk in (if not necessarily the fastest) is through the pretty little park direcly opposite the bus stop.

bruges minicrusie coach stop

We've visited Bruges before in the spring, summer and autumn. This was our first winter trip and was by far and away the best weather of any of our visits. Though there was certainly a bit of a chill to the air, there was no sign of the rain that usually plagues us, the sun was shining and the sky was blue!

bruges park path

pretty belgium

Have you seen the film, In Bruges? (if not, you really should - it's brilliant!) I can't help but hearing Ralph Fienne's voice in my head when I stumble across scenes like this.... 'its a fucking fairytale town..' Not the most delicate description perhaps, but accurate. '..all those canals and bridges and cobbled streets and those churches, all that beautiful fucking fairytale stuff....'

canal in belgium

Obviously, one of the main draws of Belgium is it's association with the most wonderful chocolate - most of the shop window displays had a decidedly Christmassy feel to them on this trip so I had many opportunities to drool over chocolate santas, candy Christmas trees and the most beautiful little chocolate boxes!

chocolate shop window

bruge chocolate shop christmas window

With chocolate this good, it'd almost be rude not to buy plenty to bring home - especially when you consider that so many of the good chocolate shops are happy to hand out free samples, forcing you to fall in love with their delicious products and encouraging you to purchase!

best chocolate shops in bruges

pretty belgium

a day out in bruges

Soon enough, all the looking at chocolate had made me hungry so we decided it was time to stop off for some food! I'd heard great things about the hot chocolate at Lizzies Wafels - on ordering (plain, milk, or white) you are presented with a huge glass of hot milk, and a chocolate 'tulip', filled with chocolate shavings... just drop your tulip in the milk and watch it melt, leaving you with the most delicious drink! I had to top mine with marshmallows because apparently, when it comes to chocolate, I am a child.

best hot chocolate in bruges

The menus and signs around the café did say that the waffles were 'huge' but I wasn't prepared for the size of mine! 'I'm never going to eat all that', I thought to myself - but somehow I managed! Thought it looks intimidating, the waffle was so light that it really wasn't the struggle I expected! There's a variety of toppings you can order but I kept mine simple with caramel sauce - perfect!

biggest waffles ever

Another, slightly less obvious, motivation for our trip was to visit De Witte Pelikaan.... we stumbled across this incredible Christmas shop on our first trip to Bruges (which was in July - not the time of year I expected to enter a winter wonderland!) and have bought a little festive trinket for the house each time since.

Bruges all-year Christmas shop

winter wonderland shop

This was probably the first time in the shop that was actually anywhere near Christmas - which might explain why we left with two massive bags snowy woodland creatures and smiling santas! One day our whole house will look like this throughout December....

amazing christmas cellar

All that shopping done, it was time to enjoy another one of Belgium's well loved creations - beer!

beer hall in historium bruges

On our last trip to Bruges we visited the Historium, a history based visitor attraction in the main Market Square. It's a sort of interactive museum, with it's own beer café, the Duvelorium!  Remembering that we'd missed this bit out on our last trip, we'd have a reversal this time and visited the pub but not the museum!

great places to drink in Markt Bruges

As well as the glorious interiors and wonderful beer selection, the Duvelorium boasts some pretty grand views of the Markt!

View of MArkt

As you can see, the Markt was all geared up for the Christmas market - with stalls selling all things festive, from hot chocolate to Christmas decorations - and the temporary ice rink that I was tempted by but had done too much shopping for!

view from Duvelorium

It's 366 steps to the top of Bruges belfry - and some very narrow twisty-turny steps at that, so I couldn't help it was with equal parts amusement and pity that I saw a lady look very relieved to get back to the bottom after her climb - only to see her face drop as she realised she left a bag at the very top and had to go back up to get it!

That wasn't this visit, but I can't look at this impressive tower now without thinking of the poor lass and the sorry state her legs must have been in by the end of the day!

In Bruges tower

Either led by this story, or simply because it's one of the best things to do in Bruges, we soon decided it was about time for another sit down and beer! Everyone advises you to 'stay away from the tourist areas' where you are likely to pay above the odds for your drink, and it many cases it's good advice, but sometimes the premium you pay on your beer for a nice spot like this one is totally worth it!

Drinks in markt square bruges

Once the shade settled over our previously sunny spot, the uncharacteristic warmth we'd been enjoying for the day quickly disappeared, plus it was getting to about time for us to set off back for the coach. With this in mind, we finished off the drinks and grabbed a warming sausage from one of the market stalls to help us on our way...

sausage stall

We didn't bother with a full sit down meal in any of Bruges' fine looking restaurants, as we wanted to spread our limited time in the city out as much as possible, but we made sure we ate well on the move nonetheless!

At some point I do aim to spend a little longer in Bruges - an overnight, at least - so we can afford to fit in some of the more time-consuming activities (despite multiple visits, I still have a list of things to do there!) but for the meantime I'm happy to spend my hours there just pottering around, with regular chocolate stops!

1 comment

  1. Going to Brugges later this month (July). Really looking forward to it and descriptions like yours make me all the more excited! Followed you on IG as well! @lifeoncelluloid


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