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Five things I did in Bruges

June 28, 2015

I’m not a very good tourist.

I’m too lazy to queue up for attractions and like my husband, I don’t really like being part of a big crowd. I’m no good at ‘immersing’ myself in local cultures because I like to stick to what I know I like and I’m not too keen about straying out of my comfort zone.

Boring, or what?!

However, I simply adored Bruges. I could not have liked it more unless there had been people in the streets handing out bundles of Euros.

It’s been on the ‘must visit’ list for a few years now, so when a couple of friends were planning a repeat visit and invited us along, we hopped, skipped and jumped at the chance. Basking in the glory of its picture-postcard beauty, we found ourselves strolling along its cleaner-than-clean cobbled streets, supping from beautiful glasses frothing with beautiful beer and sampling waist-bulging amounts of Belgium’s finest chocolate. No good for the low-carb eating of course, but I won’t tell anyone if you don’t. (Ok, that didn’t work…someone definitely grassed me up to the bathroom scales!!!)

Here are five of the wonderful ways we occupied our time during the weekend:

1. Horse-drawn carriage.

Horse-drawn carriage

Meet Jack. Or perhaps that should be Jacques. He obligingly trotted us around the cobbled streets for a delightful 30 minutes, trying to mow down as many of the apparently deaf tourists as were stupid enough to get in his way. It was a beautiful sunny day, so this was an ideal way to take in much of the centre of the city. The cost was 44 Euros plus any tips you wanted to give to the horse and driver.

2. Drink beer (and other alcoholic beverages).

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We were spoilt for choice with places to sample the local brew(s), so we squeezed in as many as we could. Quite a few gave you the option of a mixed ‘paddle’ of beer, like Carolyn can be seen sporting here. Great way to try a wider variety whilst retaining the ability to walk. Highlight venues were:

Cafe Rose Red – a very quaint bar with a delightful array of snacks to soak up the beer (or Gin, in my case).

De Garre – apparently the place to get the strongest beer in Bruges. I don’t know; I was sticking to my 6% blonde beer.

Brouwerik De Halve Mann – this is the main brewery bar. You can also get a tour of the brewery for a few Euros, but we didn’t want to get distracted from the task at hand (or should that be, in hand?!)

Terrastje – this was a lovely little bar that we just stumbled upon. Think it was actually run by English people, but don’t let that put you off.

Groot Vlaenderen – cocktail bar sent by the angels. They had about 30 different Gins. I was just about ready to move in!

3. Eat chocolate.

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It felt like every third shop was a chocolate shop, but I’m probably exaggerating. Maybe it was every fourth. Needless to say there was no shortage of Belgium chocolate. It would have been rude not to try it (again and again and again). Our friends much favourited a shop called The Chocolate Line, because of the selection of unusual flavours they combine with their chocolates. You can expect to find lemongrass, Yuzu, fried onions, bacon, wasabi and saffron amongst those displayed.

Climbing the Belfry

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This iconic landmark has graced Bruges’ skyline for over 500 years and aside from marvelling at the 47 working bells that it houses, it’s the perfect way to see views right across the city. All that stands between you and those views are 366 narrow, steep, spiral steps. But don’t let that put you off – it’s all part of the fun! And there are points along the way that you can have a little rest and read about the structure that you’re standing in. My advice is to go quite early in the morning before the crowds descend, because the queues can get quite long – they can only let 70 people into the tower at any one time. Once you’ve been in it, you’ll certainly understand why!

Meandering the beautiful streets

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I’m not one for walking; not if there is sitting and eating to be done. But one of the most lovely features of Bruges is its compact network of building-lined cobbled streets; each one as picturesque as the last. Whilst we were there, I didn’t see a single person cleaning, painting or sweeping and yet everything looks well cared for, so I can only conclude that an army of workers sneak out into the streets at night to polish and shine whilst everyone else is sleeping. In between beer-stops, we were more than happy to wander around the streets, snapping pictures, peaking into shops and drinking in our surroundings. There wasn’t time to get tired before the next must-visit shop/bar/restaurant/square appeared. Just one word of warning though; ditch the heels. With that many cobbles, flat shoes are the only option.

Have you been to Bruges? What was your favourite memory?

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From → Five, Random stuff

3 Comments
  1. I was so glad there’s a limit to the number of people allowed in the Belfry Tower, and I didn’t really appreciate it until I got to the top. I’m not scared of heights, but I definitely had wobbly legs, and made several new friends as I clung on to them as we passed on the stairs. Definitely worth it for the views though!

    • Becky, I couldn’t agree more! I also not scared of heights, but those stairs were so narrow and in places very uneven, it was impossible not to be nervous about falling up or down them. Although I thoroughly enjoyed going up there, I’m not in a hurry to repeat the experience and I was rather relieved when I made it back to the ground in one piece.

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