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Published: February 24th 2010
Having gone to Brussels in 2007 and having a fantastic time there, I had been dying to get back to Belgium and visit Brugge (Bruges) - so when Mum and Dad announced they were coming to visit us in the UK and do a bit more European travel as well, it seemed like the perfect opportunity!
And I mean, Belgium - home of chocolate, waffles, beer - how could it ever be less than fantastic!!
I left London early on the Saturday morning Eurostar to meet up with Mum and Dad in Brussels. They had been staying in Paris and then trained up to Belgium the day before. After meeting up with them, we had a wander around and, of course, compulsory chocolate tastings - mmmmmm yum! There were loads of Christmas markets set up too. After a few hours we jumped on a train to Brugge, which took about an hour. Brugge did not disappoint! It has a charming feel and atmosphere and I loved our time there. We spent the afternoon in Brugge wandering around and getting a feeling for the town. We meandered down to the Main Market Square with the Belfry Tower and then of
course stopped for some fabulous waffles and hot chocolate. There were Christmas markets set up in the main squares and dotted around the city, and an ice rink in the main square as well. The atmosphere was lively with the festive season and horse and carriages roamed the streets for a different view of the town. After negotiating the streets, we ended up doing a bit of shopping in a cool clothing store, dinner, drinking several mulled wines from market stalls and then more markets before finding a ‘Chocolate bar’ where all they served was exquisite hot chocolate - you could choose flavours, milk/dark/white, even the region that the cocoa beans came from. So that was quite amazing!
The next day we were up early-ish to take in the sights after a great breakfast at the hotel. The hotel was well situated for wandering into town and gave us a great discount card to all the major sites in town, so off we headed, first up: The Belfry Tower. The tower has been made famous in the film ‘In Brugge’ with Collin Farrell/Ralph Fiennes (if you haven’t see it - do - it’s a great film!) and we passed
several tourists at the bottom of the bell tower taking photographs of playing dead :-). Up into the ticket office we went, where we found the numbers of people up the tower are restricted at any one time so people can only enter as others come out. However, it didn’t take too long before we were climbing the 366 steps to the top. From the top there was a beautiful view of picturesque Brugge and the canals running through the town. Well worth the upwards climb (plus a bit of exercise to ward off all the chocolate and waffles was probably well needed :-) )
After visiting the tower we headed down and waited some time for an available Horse & Carriage to take us around the city. It was a lovely way to travel and a great way to view the town as we clip clopped along the cobbled streets and over small bridges.
It was a compulsory waffle stop after this, with strawberry (Frais) beer in a café on the edge of a canal. After this we decided ‘when in Belgium….’ And headed off to the Chocolate Museum. We wandered around the various exhibits and learnt
some interesting facts and history about cocoa beans and of course chocolate, before heading down to a lady who seemed to speak a dozen languages who demonstrated the art of making chocolate pralines - which tasted devine!
Well, as we’d gone into the Chocolate museum we’d seen a combination deal where you could visit not one, but TWO museums for a package deal. The “Lamp museum” not sounding like the most exciting we’d ever heard of, we chose to also visit the “Belgian Frites Museum” - I mean, a museum on fries?! Ha ha, why not!! So off we walked to the museum where we wandered around rooms devoted to potatoes and fries - classic!!! Even learnt the best way to cook Belgian frites! I think the most interesting facts we learned was that potatoes were first discovered in South America - 4000 varieties of them in fact!! and one in particular looked like a cluster of grapes all attached together. This special potato was apparently a way of testing the dexterity of maiden women in some of the Andes tribes before allowing them to marry, they had to be able to peel the potato first……..what the?! ......
of course, no trip to the Belgian Frites museum would be complete without tasting some of the world famous fries. And to be honest, they were THE best fries we’d ever tasted! They were truly fantastic, and the two paper cones we thought seemed massive when they arrived were quickly devoured!
It had been a fantastic day, in a charming town, with such a variety of things to do! It felt like we’d really gotten a feel for the town. We headed back towards the hotel, stopping off for some Belgium beer for Martin who was back in London and then finding some of my favourite chocolate truffles and stocking up on them! Arriving back at the hotel conveniently in time for cocktail happy hour, we had a few drinks in the great bar at our hotel and before we knew it the day was coming to an end!
The following day was a 5am start as we jumped on a train back to Brussels where Mum and Dad headed on to Amsterdam and I was destined for a train back to London in time to start work at 9am.
Brugges was a great place to visit
and I’d recommend it to anyone for a weekend away! :-)
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