Have you seen the movie In Bruges?
If not you need to. It’s a dark, thrilling comedy that is just brilliant starring the dashing Colin Farrell. And it’ll make you want to walk the cobbled streets around Bruges (minus the violence and guns…).
For a few days before Christmas, and falling nicely around Little London’s Birthday we decided to head to Belgium to visit the Bruges Christmas markets.
Getting to Bruges:
Leaving from Kings Cross the Eurostar is an easy way to travel to Belgium. Once you’re on the train you just have to sit back and relax for a couple of hours and wait to reach your destination. Children under 4 are free as long as they don’t require their own seat. We just squeezed Little London in between the two of us and it was fine!
The downside is the destination is Brussels. This means you have to get another local train from Brussels going to Bruges (which is included as part of your Eurostar ticket price). There are two types of trains that go to Bruges. One takes a lifetime, the other takes 55 minutes. Guess which one we took?
Make sure you get on the train with IC next to it on the departures board. IC stands for Intercity and basically just means fast.
Mr London Mum’s parents joined us on this trip, and decided to drive. They took a ferry from Dover to Dunkirk and drove the short distance into Bruges (about 35 minutes). From £35.00 one way this is a cheap way of getting to Bruges.
The downside is the one way system in Bruges can be difficult to navigate. They actually picked up a random Belgian man who directed them to the car park in the centre of the city after their satellite navigation failed to pick up signal.
Hopefully the man was trying to get somewhere near where the car park was- but either way it was much-needed because I think the in-laws were about to kill each other.
Staying in Bruges:
I went on to Expedia and found a great deal to stay at Hotel Bourgoensch Hof (about £85 per night for a superior double) The location couldn’t have been better. It’s right in the centre of everything and it included breakfast. If you have a car they can reserve a parking space for you at the near by car park.
There are two sides to the hotel. We stayed in the more modern side, which suited us really well but didn’t have that much of a great view.
The other side which is the older side (and where the in-laws stayed) had a magnificent canal view. We would have loved to have stayed this side, but the windows weren’t all that secure for a toddler. They open right out and the handles were only a clambering climb away. I would never have slept if we stayed in this room, but without a child it is perfect.
There are small lifts so having a pram wasn’t a worry either (new side avoids all steps).
The hotel we stayed at was actually located opposite the Relais Bourgondisch Cruyce, which is the luxury hotel featured in In Bruges (prices from £148-£1077 per night). We enjoyed a few drinks at this hotel, but for the same view the hotel we stayed at was a steal in comparison.
However for something extra special I’m sure this hotel would be magnificent.
^^ Both hotels mentioned are in the picture above so really the view canal side is pretty much the same (the expensive hotel has the black framed windows, and the one we stayed in is the next one along to the right!).
Things To Do:
The Belfry Tower
This medieval tower is an exhilarating climb. It’s not one for toddlers, but if you can climb it try to do so.
The steps do get quite steep and narrow, so you do have to decide whether to let the people coming down go before you go to the next level up, but that’s part of all the fun.
^^ It’s pretty windy at the top!
The waffles in Bruges are immense. One of my favourite experiences while we were there was sitting at one of the tables in the sunshine in the main square (even though it was winter), and ordering hot chocolate and waffles. Our waffle came loaded with strawberries, ice cream and cream and was just amazing.
The Chocolate Line
There are chocolate shops all over Bruges, but this one is something different. It is expensive but it’s worth it because you won’t see chocolate combinations like this anywhere else.
What’s more is they seem to make it work as everything is quite subtle (who knew curry flavoured chocolate would ever be tasty!).
The point of these chocolates isn’t to just chomp them down, but to let them melt into your mouth and experience the way the flavour combines together. It’s poncey chocolate but so much fun!
I’m gutted I missed the chocolate shooter, which is a new way to experience chocolate. It was initially introduced at a Rolling Stones party and it’s a way to sniff chocolate instead of eat it. I’m not sure how it would work but I’m strangely intrigued.
Bruges is just picture perfect. It’s worth getting lost in the streets and just wandering off. You’ll hear the clip clop of horse carriages passing by and just see some of the most beautiful old cobbled streets.
You may even come across the weird and the wonderful, such as this art piece.
It was situated on a table outside of a shop to entice people in to see more of the work from the artist. I walked over because a group of children were gathered around it pointing and laughing. What can I say, the Belgian’s are quite open-minded!
You can’t go to Bruges and not drink some beer. My choice is something fruity and light. Mr London Mum prefers something darker. Suits us both!
Have you been to Bruges? What tips or favourite places do you have?