We went to Bruges. It smells of sweet waffles and warm Gluhwein. It has the metallic sound of horses hooves on cobble stones and the babble of mixed languages. It feels cold. Always. And sometimes wet. It tastes of blonde beer, chocolate and waffles. We saw Christmas lights, a skating rink, red brick buildings with staggered roofs. It was a good day.
It was also a cold wet day, but that can’t be helped.
We booked to travel with Oakhall Holidays because we’ve been with them before, it only costs about £30 and it’s really easy – you go to Sevenoaks and then sit on a coach. http://www.oakhall.co.uk
Following the attacks in Paris, I was slightly worried that there might be trouble or that security would be very tight. There was no trouble. There was also no security. None. Not until we came to re-enter England. Somewhat surprised. No one at all asked for photo i d or looked at our passports. If the Prime Minister is reading this (which I’m sure he does each week) then this is an area of security that you should perhaps look into. The tunnel seems a likely target to me.
When you arrive in Bruges, the coach parks a short walk from town and you are then free to wander where you want. Now, when we have been previously, we have had trouble finding a restaurant with free tables. (This time it was fine – the waiter told us that in the last week they have had 1500 cancellations due to the trouble in Paris. Mainly Japanese tour groups apparently.)
Anyway, IF you are with other people who really want to look around the Christmas markets and enjoy Bruges, then I would suggest booking a table. We went to Vivaldi, which is not far from the center. It had a lovely fireplace, nice food and clean toilets. I had the goats cheese and honey salad which was very good. Husband had fish and chips and mussels (also good.) The email is : firstname.lastname@example.org
HOWEVER, if you are with the kind of people who are only there because you asked them to come, the kind of people who actually dislike Christmas markets and cold, wet weather, the kind of people who will get very comfortable next to the fire, drink several large beers and then have to be dragged from the restaurant and will spend the rest of the trip looking for somewhere dry to sit down, then DO NOT go there first. It will make the rest of the day much harder. (No further comment.)
There are a few things in Bruges that you really must do. You have to see the Christmas markets, which are small and a bit naff but you should see them anyway, the atmosphere is nice. You should drink beer (not too much).You should have a hot chocolate (which is served as a mug of hot milk. They then either give you a stick of solid chocolate to melt into it or a jug of melted chocolate to add. Delicious.) You should eat a waffle. You should visit a lace shop, even if just to admire the craft work. If you are of a robust disposition, you should go to the back of a chocolate shop. Here you will find chocolate moulded into every imaginable shape, much of it related to sexual organs. It is unusual and I cannot imagine how one eats it. I was going to take a photo for the blog but actually it was too rude, even for me.
If you have time, there are also horse and carriage rides, boat trips, windmills and museums. Many, many museums. I am not really a museum sort of person, so I cannot give any opinion at all, but there are lots.
We have been to Bruges in the Winter a few times. I always have a lovely time. A few blurry photos below…..
Christmas Market :
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