We hadn’t originally been able to decide whether to spend two nights at either Brussels or Bruges, so we compromised and spent one night at each. After the busy chaos of a beautiful capital city like Brussels, it was nice to know we were going to somewhere smaller next. It was a super easy train from Brussels to Bruges, just one hour or so before we arrived and found our hotel which was in a great location right beside the train station.
We grabbed some lunch from a local deli (amazing mozzarella sandwiches that were made fresh before our hungry eyes) and took them to eat beside the beautiful canals in the nearby park. Bruges was stunning in the warm sunshine, with geese and swans populating the canals and everyone either cycling or wandering through the little streets. It was like a polar opposite to Brussels, calm and peaceful. The most peaceful spot was a little monastery garden, walled off but open to the public (provided they stayed quiet).
A priority for us was to visit a Michelangelo Mother and Child sculpture in one of the two main churches. They charged a small fee to take a look but the sensitivity of the small subject, sculpted in a way Michelangelo can only achieve, was worth it even if the rest of the church was relatively unremarkable. We then took a look at an art exhibition being held at the other nearby church, which was much more grand and impressive.
It wouldn’t have felt right to go to Belgium and not do something beer related so we went along to a tour of the local Half moon brewery. It was more fun that I expected (I was just doing it for the free beer at the end) with a great tour who took us through the new parts of the brewery as well as showing some of the older bits that were no longer in use. We also got some great views over Bruges after climbing out of the window to get onto the roof (as well Asa. Rare photo of both of us!). The beer at the end was delicious and far superior to the stuff I normally buy. I also know slightly more about the beer making process than I did before, but don’t try to test me on this knowledge as I am far too modest to show how much I know…
After the delightful beer that made up for all the stairs we had climbed, we walked through the central square, a smaller and older looking version of the grand place in Brussels, but much cuter in my opinion. We were aiming to get to a chocolate factory but we arrived just after it had shut (I still get nightmares of the devastation of that one moment). The only way I could find some kind of solace was by eating the most delicious Waffle of my life, smothered in melted chocolate and ice cream and served alongside another local beer (also made by the Half Moon brewery). I may need another waffle, all these memories of missed chocolate tours are making me emotional.
After more wandering around streets we realised it was getting late. We weren’t feeling up to a big meal so we found the perfect dinner in a little shop selling delicious falafel wraps which we devoured along with a plate of perfectly cooked fries smothered in the most delicious curry/mayonnaise sauce. I had a list of things we had to try in Belgium: beer, chocolate, waffles and frites, so with the list completed we made our way “home” to recover from all the calories we had consumed.
Bruges is still one of my favourite cities we visited (I write this sitting in Italy after falling far too behind on these blogs) and it had a great atmosphere as well as the perfect size for exploring on foot. I know I will have to go back one day soon, the chocolate factory still calls my name…