One of the best things about living in the Northern Hemisphere is how inconsequential all the travel times become (unless if you’re going back home to Australia or NZ). Then overlay that with the ability to catch a train to another country and my little brain gets blown!
We’ve been talking about going to Belgium for quite some time. So when our friend from Australia came to visit, we rallied a couple of our other antipodean mates and took the Eurostar to Belgium.
It was a normal Friday morning, where we went to work, then took half a day off to get on a train to Bruges. For anyone who hasn’t done this before, walking out of your work post-lunch to arrive at your overseas holiday destination for dinner, without having to get on a plane is an absolute bliss!
After getting to our massive Airbnb (we could seriously play cricket in the lounge), we dropped our bags and headed straight out. Given that it was a Friday night, I had high expectations. Even though Bruges is the more “touristy” destination, I was really surprised by the lack of general hubbub. We did manage to find a few little gems that are as below:
When in Bruges:
Visit all the underground bars. When I say underground, I don’t mean secret or speakeasy, these bars are literally in the basements. I don’t really know why that is, but my theory is that they are cosier than the ones above the ground? The two we went to and loved are:
- Comptoir Des Arts – Great selection of beers (no surprises there) and live jazz on selected days/nights
- t’ Poatersgat – Again, enviable variety of beers and a great selection of retro tunes.
Visit the chocolate shops. While they are everywhere, the two we went to are:
- Chocolaterie Sukerbuyc – This little gem has been shining in the middle of the historic town since 1977, serving artisan chocolate. After you’ve shopped for all your favourite chocolates, head across the road to Tea-Room De Proeverie for a spot of cake and coffee.
- BROWN Sugar – In addition to the chocolates, this trendy little shop offers a wide variety of nougat and handmade artisanal marzipan.
Visit more places dedicated to the cold one:
- Huisbrouwerij De Halve Maan – The ‘Die Maene’ brewery was first mentioned in the town register of Bruges in 1564 and was bought over by the Maes family in the early 19th Fast forward to the 21st century, the Huisbrouwerij De Halve Maan continues to served freshly brewed brews, complimented with delicious menu of food. You can also choose to do a tour of the brewery, which is always fun.
- Beer Palace – Listed as a souvenir shop on Google, this place has more beers than jewels in a medieval palace. They also do tasting flights for €10, which is always helpful.
- You could have brunch inside a bookshop at Books & Brunch. I do have to warn you though, the food (portions and taste) aren’t great, but the coffee is delicious. It’s a bit off the beaten track so you get to mingle with the locals.
- You could go to a museum dedicated to fries (they are just fries in Belgium, not French fries). It’s called the Frietmuseum, but don’t expect to get fed. It’s just a museum dedicated to the golden fingers.
- Visit the all year round Christmas shop called De Witte Pelikaan. Housed inside beautiful baroque gable of a renovated Renaissance building, this shop will not only fulfil all your Christmas shopping dreams, but guess what? It’s Christmas all-year-round in here!
Before we planned this trip, we asked a number of people how long we’ll need to properly enjoy Bruges. Most of them told us a day would be enough. We were there for 24-hours (including sleepy time) and I feel like we didn’t even get to scratch the surface. If you like meandering aimlessly through pretty streets, make sure you have two full days in Bruges. We’ll definitely return again; I mean why wouldn’t we?