1 of the excellent pleasures of living so close to Europe is getting in a position to go to other nations so very easily. Australia is a superb spot to reside, but it requires so extended to get to your nearest neighbour.
This Weekly Edition is about our two-evening driving vacation from the UK to Bruges in Belgium. Some highlights of the city recognized as the Venice of the North.
We’re travelling with our pals Clare and Dave, which is exceptional as we missed out on a trip to Greece with them earlier in the year.
They’re the most effective travelling companions. We travelled to Italy with them final year and it is superior to be back on the road with them.
We hope you love this unique Bruges Edition.
Cheers – Jim & Christina xx
It is an excitable drive down to Dover to catch the ferry. The white cliffs wave us off as our ship turns to face the Continent. We sail to Calais and from there it is only an hour and a half’s drive across the French-Belgian border to Bruges.
I employed to love Christina’s wonderment at getting in a position to go to so several nations so very easily. I believed it was very cute. These days – soon after living in Australia for so extended – I totally comprehend how she feels. Crossing into 3 diverse nations in an afternoon blows my thoughts.
Meanwhile, Clare and Dave appear at us with the exact same amused smile I had with Christina’s excited disbelief years ago.
Dave’s an indefatigable, skilled driver and gets us from the busy port roads of Calais out into the countryside and into the narrow cobbles of Bruges without having any complications.
We verify into our B&B that Clare found and get prepared for a bit of exploring.
The B&B – referred to as Tripel B which means ‘Beer, Bed and Breakfast’ – is sort of amazing. Verify out the ratings on Google and Booking.com. They’re the highest we’ve observed.
The owner, Landers, lets us in then requires us to the courtyard for a chat and a beer.
A Bruges nearby, he’s got so several excellent recommendations for going to the city. We’ll be sharing some of them with you down the road.
There are hundreds of locations to remain in Bruges, but if I come back right here, I’ll be hunting to remain at Tripel B once more more than all the rest. Its place is incredible, the beds are comfy, the breakfast is exceptional and the beers Landers shares with us are on point.
1 of our very first stops is to verify out the Beer Wall at the 2be Bar. It is an impressive sight and drives us on to the bar appropriate to grab our very first taste of Belgian beer on tap.
We also have some snacks. Sausage, which they wash for you in a specially created sausage washer (it is anything to see) and some cheese.
We function on our step count as we discover additional and additional into this quite tiny town. And by ‘little’ I imply it. The old town is 1km wide and 2km extended, so you can get to know it pretty effectively in a weekend.
Bruges has a superb old-globe really feel that it is worked challenging to retain. The horse-drawn carts that clop about the streets seriously add to the ambience.
Bruges is recognized as the Venice of the North for a explanation. It is a romantic city, complete of quite canals lined with ancient buildings whose walls drop straight down into the water.
The canal network stems from the excellent canal that surrounds the old town like a moat and is connected by a extended canal that runs all the way to Ostend and the North Sea.
Soon after several beers and a lot of exploring, we lastly settle in for dinner at ‘t Bagientje, a beautiful restaurant and hotel at the southern finish of town. It is appropriate on the banks of a single of the canals and has a pretty classic menu.
Very best of all, it serves the Belgian/Flemish specialty of ‘stoverij’.
This is a sort of beef stew exactly where the meat has been braised in a dark Belgian beer and the gravy is mixed with the unique Ghent mustard. The outcome is an unctuous, wealthy, scrumptious meal with the most tender meat.
This tiny spot is effectively worth a go to – even though like all restaurants in Bruges, it is a superior notion to book beforehand. It tends to make every thing smoother when you arrive.
Soon after dinner, we stroll via the streets of Bruges enjoying the late evening and the quiet streets soon after a busy day. We’re shocked that a lot of bars and restaurants are closing currently, even even though it is nevertheless very early.
We suppose this is due to the fact it is the Belgian Independence Day weekend, even though you’d have believed tonight would be a superior evening to be open.
We continue walking till we’re back at Markt – the town’s key square, exactly where there’s a concert on.
Tripeldagen is a 3-day music festival that occurs just about every year and draws large crowds. We love a couple of drinks from a single of the beer vans in the square and watch national treasure Willy Sommers get the audience going.
Later, bizzare Belgian dance troupe Baba Yega do a set on stage, which, if you haven’t observed ahead of, is challenging to describe. You should really in all probability appear them up on YouTube!
Christina is up pretty early this morning for a appear round the town ahead of anybody else is around… but she’s not up ahead of the carters, who are currently waiting for eager vacationers to ride about town.
As a rule, we do not like to take rides like these when we’re travelling. The horses are normally poorly looked soon after and produced to function in circumstances that bring about them discomfort. These horses look effectively cared for even though and look satisfied, even though they are operating on cobbles all day just about every day, which is not superior for them.
We will not be taking a ride this trip either – and not just due to the fact it is about €50pp for a 15-minute ride – but obtaining the carts operating via the streets does add to the old-globe really feel to Bruges.
This morning, we’ve taken up the challenge of climbing the Belfort Belfry. The tower’s visible from just about anyplace in the city and you can see it in a single of the earlier photographs.
Identified as the Belfry of Bruges, the Belfort Belfry and Carillon requires pride of spot in the Markt and draws thousands of guests just about every year.
The tower is 83 metres tall and offers a superb view out more than Bruges. We can even see our property from right here – just behind that double row of trees.
It is a difficult climb up even though: 366 methods in a precipitous spiral. It is a superior notion to get right here as quickly as the tower opens at 9.30 as there’s a limit to the quantity of persons permitted up and there’s only a single staircase.
You do not want to be passing also several persons in either path. There’s not a lot space up there. The climb is worth it even though and just about every 15 minutes the bells at the top rated sound, moved by the world’s most significant brass drum.
Post-climb, we’re lured into La Belgique Gourmande – a chocolate and beer shop on Brugge Wolle. This is an exceptional shop with some gorgeous handmade Belgian chocolates for sale.
There’s also an incredible array of Belgian beers right here, which tends to make me pretty satisfied as you can see!
Prior to we get stuck into the chocolates – or beer for that matter – convention insists we have lunch very first. We quit in at the Residence of Waffles, appropriate subsequent door to the Bruges Torture Museum (effectively worth a go to also by the way).
The waffles in this area are not all sweet. In reality the style of the Brussels Waffle is in reality savoury. The Residence of Waffles provides a scrumptious variety of waffles – from smoked salmon to this all-day breakfast phenomenon.
It is lastly beer O’ clock and we go on the hunt for a probably bar to attempt. On our wanderings, Christina spots her bar, which is pretty fascinating.
We do not quit right here even though and head additional into town for drinks in a wide variety of diverse bars we’ll be sharing with you in the coming weeks.
1 tip we will give even though comes from the pretty superior guidance of our B&B host. From Christina’s Bar, we delve into the narrow laneways beside the canals till we discover De Garre, which is in a single of the smallest streets in the city.
It is in an old property that goes up 3 levels. At the exact same time, it feels like you are in a tiny medieval cottage, with thick walls and exposed beams.
De Garre not only provides more than 130 diverse beers, it also has its personal brewery and self-named beer on tap.
On our perambulations, we uncover some gorgeous sights. From massive doors of ancient churches to bridged canals with waterside flowers.
Bruges is a amazing location. It is quick to see why they contact it the Venice of the North. The superior factor is – compared to its Italian counterpart – this town hasn’t been bludgeoned by tourism to the point exactly where neither guests nor locals look to love the concentrate.
Soon after a scrumptious meal at a nearby steakhouse we discovered by opportunity (Grillkasteeltje has incredible meals and superb service), we discover a tiny bar to sit for our final beers of the evening.
Brasserie Brugge Die Scone has the fantastic outside patio for the warm evening and an exceptional glass of Chimay.
Dave and I also love a cigar when we’re right here. Earlier right now, we stopped at the most effective cigar shop I’ve ever been to – excellent service and pristinely kept cigars at La Casa Del Tabaco.
I’m enjoying an Oliva Serie V, which appears acceptable for exactly where we are. The Oliva brand is now owned by a Belgian family members, the Cortès.
It is a superb smoke and shows that just due to the fact it is not a Cuban Habanos (the tobacco comes from Nicaragua), a cigar can nevertheless be superior.
The items to see in Bruges are definitely a single highlight, but the meals right here is surely a different. Ideal subsequent door to our B&B is this treasure trove of cheese (attempt saying that 5 occasions!).
Kaashuys Den Hof is a single of the most amazing cheese shops we’ve ever observed. And our host Landers from Tripel B gets the cheese he provides at breakfast from right here.
We quit in right here just ahead of we leave for some 3-year-old aged gouda, which is not only pretty effectively-priced but bloody scrumptious also.
As the light lastly goes from our final evening in Bruges, we’re treated to this cobalt sky. It is 11:15pm and just about time for bed.
We’ve got a couple of hours of travel tomorrow – 90 minutes to Calais, then a different 90 on the ferry and 3 hours from Dover to property. And we have to be back in time to choose the dogs up from their ‘hotel’.
It is off to bed.
Bruges is an exciting, gorgeous city with a lot to give guests. In reality it appears that Bruges is only just now getting found by mainstream tourism – and locals are also beginning to realise this.
With any emerging location, you have a tendency to get a mix of the savvy and parochial who are respectively thrilled and repelled by the transform in their city, and there’s a fair bit of proof of that in Bruges.
But if you are ok to deal with the occasional “closed!” shouted at you when you enter a bar or have eyes rolled at you if you haven’t booked a restaurant table, Bruges has so a lot to give.
The sights, meals and beer are worth the trip, and the satisfied enthusiasm and kindness of most Belgian locals make your time in Bruges fulfilling and exciting.
We hope you have enjoyed this Weekly Edition.
Cheers – Jim & Christina xx