Here we are again on yet another mini-break. This time over to Bruges. Its the first time either of us have ever been to Belgium. This trip kicks off our travel plans for the year and is the first of five brand new destinations.
In 2020 we will visit, Bruges, Prague, Portimão (The Algarve), Santorini and Krakow. Our plans also include some ‘over the boarder’ excursions into Dresden, Seville and possibly Gibraltar. We will hopefully be filling in the gaps too by visiting some beautiful towns and cities here in the UK.
This trip was also a gift to us from Vicky’s Mum for Christmas. Thank you ! We will be bringing you back a big box of Belgian chocolates I am sure. She booked this through National Holidays. If you would like to explore Europe with National Holidays then book your trip today. (since posting this blog National Holidays are no longer a company)
Up early, packed and ready to go our first job today would be taking Alice our beautiful little Calico cat on her holidays. When we travel she stays in a cat hotel not far from where we live. When I say hotel, 5 star luxury. No joke.
A Choppy Crossing !
Sailing from Hull we arrived to check-in and board the Pride of York ferry to Zeebrugge. The crossing took around 14 hours, we were slightly delayed because of the bad weather. It was pretty rough, not a great one if you suffer from sea-sickness.
We had plenty to keep us entertained though. Vicky was in her element in the duty free shop and so was I to be honest. Food on-board was also included in our booking. The buffet is always great and has so much choice. This was our fourth crossing with P&O and we’ve never had a bad experience yet.
After dinner we relaxed in the lounge bar with a bottle of wine and watched some of the on-board entertainment.
The next morning the captains call came at 7am to announce we had docked, followed by the call to say breakfast was being served. After-which we were ready to board our coach for the 20 minute transfer. Our legs were still a bit wobbly due to the rough seas.
The drop off point was just outside of town. A short walk through a small park and by the river and we were soon in the centre.
Bruges is full of beautiful Medieval and Gothic style buildings. It is so picturesque. The weather wasn’t great, it rained on and off for the duration of our time here. Getting photographs between showers proved difficult at times. It didn’t dampen our spirits though but we did have to duck in and out of cover from time to time. There are some great shops here so it was a good excuse to visit these and spend some money ! Vicky was very happy with this.
We had around six hours to explore Bruges, not long, but we wanted to cram in as much as we could. First we would visit the Belfry of Bruges (Belfort Brugge) as we were hoping to climb the 366 steps to the top for views out across the market square. They only allow a certain number of people up at any given time so unfortunately we didn’t get to do it. Instead we nipped next door to visit the Salvador Dali exhibition. We were aware of the exhibition before we travelled as Jason is a fan of his work. Inside there is a fantastic collection of paintings and sculptures. Entrance is €10 and there is an audio guide for an extra €2 should you want to learn more about his work.
There was a large market taking place in the square which was nice. Its stalls were full of food, dairy, sweets and fresh flowers. A great place to start exploring.
Another place we were really looking forward to visiting was the Basilica of the Holy Blood on Burg Square. Sadly the sign on the door said it wouldn’t be open to tourists for another couple of weeks. We weren’t having much luck so far. However, we took a few photos and marvelled at the architecture from the outside instead. Burg Square is also home to the Stadsbestuur Brugge, the city hall built in the 1300’s. A beautiful Gothic looking government building which doubles as a museum.
If Bruges is famous for anything its the food. Chocolate, Fries, Beer, Waffles and Muscles are all on the menu. First up lunch. The best place to get fries is out on the street. Avoid the expensive shops that cater to tourists and head for the little green shed type structures outside the main Cathedral on the market square. They are cheaper, fresher and served the way the locals eat them, in paper and topped with a sauce of your choice, mayonnaise is the favourite here.
We were hoping to visit Lizzie’s Wafels for our sweet fix, we found this place while doing our research at home. It had some great reviews and the waffles looked incredible. However, upon our arrival it was very busy and we couldn’t get a table. In a frantic search to find somewhere else to eat we found the House of Waffles. Again, this place has some great reviews and we weren’t disappointed. We both opted for a Liège style waffle, these are slightly thicker than a regular shaped waffle with straight edges, they are much fluffier and uneven. Vicky chose strawberries and cream and I chose one with warm black cherries and cream.
After our fries and waffles we had a walk around the town and did a bit of shopping. We found a great little bar just off the main market square called Bar Des Amis full of locals with great beer. Try a La Chouffe, cherry flavour, absolutely delicious !
Time For Chocolate
If you love chocolate then Bruges is the perfect city for you. Chocolatier Dumon is great for choc-o-holics. With a fantastic selection of freshly made artisan chocolates. We knew of this place beforehand so it was always on our list of shops to visit.
As soon as you open the door to the shop the smell of chocolate just hits you in the face. These guys have only been around since the 1990’s but are favourites here and across the world. We spent close to €80 on goodies for ourselves and gifts for others. Expensive, but worth it.
We spent the rest of our time just wandering around. In and out of shops and through the back streets. Both myself and Vicky would love to come back to Bruges during the warmer months and would love to stay over.
It is such a beautiful little city and so clean. I don’t think we even saw a speck of graffiti !
To read about our last National Holidays / P&O cruises trip over to Amsterdam have a look at A Day In Amsterdam. We will see you again very soon. Prague is next and we can’t wait.
Looking For More Things To Do In Bruges ?
Here is a list of activities that we didn’t get chance to do during our time in Bruges. However, we thought we would add them anyway so you can add them to your itinerary. Enjoy !
The Belgian Fries Museum (Frietmuseum) everything you needed to know about the humble fry. Open everyday from 10am till 5pm. The cost of entry for an adult ticket is €7.
Lake of Love and Lovers Bridge (Minnewater) A nice quiet, relaxing place to sit and enjoy some peace and quiet. Great for taking some time out. It’s said that if you walk over the bridge and kiss your loved one, it will become eternal love.
Sint-Janshospitaal (Museum) Saint Johns Hospital is one of the oldest in Europe dating back to the 1300’s. This medieval hospital is now a museum holding works of art, medical equipment and much more. An adult ticket costs €12.
Choco-Story, Chocolate Museum Self explanatory, with free samples, audio guides and great exhibits. This museum is about 5 minutes from the main market square. Open every day from 10am till 5pm.
Boat tours There are several spots along the river where you can jump into a boat and experience the city by water.
Bruges Beer Experience Situated just off the main square this museum has interactive exhibits, beet tastings and more. Open Monday to Friday 10am till 18.30pm and Saturday 10am till 11pm.