3 Days In Brugge
Last weekend I was in Brugge. Although I planned for a relaxing weekend, it turned into more of a heavy eating and drinking marathon. Brugge almost broke me. It hurt so good, I loved every second! The is a truly beautiful city with some culinary delights! It is quite expensive when it comes to the food but it is possible to find some gems and not bust the bank. Plenty of sightseeing can be done for free and drinking of course revolves around the Belgian (and dangerously strong) beer. Do not throw it back like a pint. You have been warned! I was only there a few days but got through a lot:
Oud Huis De Peellaert – I highly recommend this hotel. The service was attentive and the location is great. Very central but on a quiet street – opposite a hostle but that didn’t cause us any trouble. Brugge is not really a party town. We were in room no. 001. which was two twins pushed together to make a double which was not ideal and the other downside was that the room was at the end of the hall to the main toilets and we could occasionally hear people walking and talking down the hall when they went to use them. It wasn’t enough of a bother for us to mar our experience of the hotel though. Good breakfast which we had everyday before heading out, and luggage room to leave bags after check out. Unfortunately we didn’t use the spa facilities but they are a nice addition if you have a little more time to indulge.
We didn’t pre-plan too much. We only actually went to two places on our initial hit list. Most of the sight we stumbled across on our amble.
Basilica of the Holy Blood – This is a very ornate and intricately designed church. Very well kept and beautiful. It is said to hold a vial of Christ’s blood and you can pay to line up and get a close look as shown in my picture. The architecture and interior is quite stunning. Good for a quick stop and easily found in the main square. Free.
Markt – Easily found. All roads lead here and this is where you will find all the tourists and the horse and carriage rides. It is a lovely place to walk around and take in the architecture and take some pictures. It is a little quieter in the mornings. Do not eat here, everything is over priced and Brugge isn’t cheap at the best of times. Free.
Beer bottle shop– This isn’t really a sight as much as it is a store but it is a beer (or booze in general) lovers delight. Brugge is the art of the glass each beer to its won glass and you can see pairing in the store. Only charge is what you buy.
Torture museum – Not for the squeamish! This place made my stomach turn slightly but was definitely interesting and I’m glad we stumbled across it. 7Euro pp
2be beer wall – The wall of beer and bar. We stopped to have a look but due to the queue and being full we didn’t stop for a drink. Busy place but a nice pit stop. Stop in if it’s not too busy. Only charge is for what you drink/buy.
Mostly we wondered the streets to view the town and popped into shops. We avoided most places that were too busy which meant we didn’t manage the Belfry of Brugge’s 300+ steps as there was about an hour wait.
Now to the really good bit!
Eat & Drink
De Kuppe: Seemed like an old man’s pub but but may have been the time of day. It was all we could find that was open at 3pm on a Friday. Most things didn’t open til 6pm. This was a little out the way looked like there were only locals in the pub…they clearly knew where to go for a drink. Nothing special but was quiet and bar staff was friendly.
Aquarel: After some wondering around trying to find a spot we could have a drink and order some food at about 4pm (again most places were shut til 6pm) we settled on this place. We ordered the frites because…well this was Brugges. The frites were good but served with plain old mayonnaise, not the frites sauce I was expecting, so nothing special . To follow however we had the waffle and, flombay me sideways, it was delicious! This is where we learnt that a Brugge waffle is different to a Belgian waffle. The Belgian is the denser big brother of the two – the one we have become accustomed to in England. The Brugge waffle is an epiphany! Light, crispy, fresh and fluffy. Locally just had with whipped cream, we had banana and nutella, because…well…we could.
The Druids Cellar: We ended the evening at The Druids Cellar bar. I had a hankering to play some pool and we found this place. It opened at 6pm and was pretty empty when we arrived so we bellied up to the bar, ordered our drinks and took over the table. 5 hours later, the 9% Belgian beer had taken effect, we had made friends with the bar man, beaten other couples at pool and realised we were indeed now hammered. It was time to take ourselves back to our hotel. It says it in the name. It is a cellar bar. A little cave like, dark, relaxed and cold. Great bar staff, fun, sports on the screen and good late night spot.
Oyya: This place serves on-the-go Belgian waffles. Have we all learnt the difference now?? Denser. Not quite the quality I was hoping for or had read about. Reheated in the waffle iron with whipped cream from a standard squirty can and cherry compot from a tin. It was OK but didn’t change my mind about Belgian waffles as I’d hoped. Dense and a bit stodgy. Good for a sugar kick on the go but not special. I always want to see my waffles made fresh.
Go-Fre: Waffle on a stick and dipped in chocolate, yes please! If Mr Whippy made Mr Waffle. These again are ok. little novelty over taste in my opinion. Maybe it’s just because I don’t rate Belgian waffles enough. I need waffles to be light and fluffly and they are dense and stodgy. It’s a small waffle dipped in chocolate basically. Nice gift perhaps but I wouldn’t buy a fresh one again. Didn’t see any of the caramel waffle biscuits (fresh or packed) which is what I went here for in the first place and was hoping to buy and would go back to try.
Gran Kaffee De Passage: Ah Gran Kaffe de passage, my hero! After wondering around again trying to find a place that was open for lunch at about 3pm (and figure out if Belgians actually eat lunch) we gave one more place on our list a go before giving up and going to the nearest place we could find. I had read good things about this place. This restaurant is part of a hostel. Good food and reasonable prices – a massive bonus, and I am so glad we went. This place is a star! A little out of the way so not too busy, it had charm, lovely relaxed atmosphere, decent prices, friendly service and good food. The slow cooked ribs were amazing and the Flemish stew a solid winter warmer. The frites were served with a proper frites sauce and the baked potato drenched in some unknown delicious butter sauce. Comforting food, good portions and nice bar area to sit at if not there for the food. Cannot recommend enough. They also served a 2 course set lunch menu for around the 14 euro mark. Bargain. I would also consider the hostel for accommodation.
De Republiek: Needless to say we were pretty full by the time diner came and not finding a place with availability that served dinner at 10pm, the time we thought we might start feeling pangs again…if ever! We headed out to a bar for a few drinks. De Republiek was a restaurant/bar with a more trendy vibe. Meaning the bar men had tattoo’s and they served cocktails a’ la London vibe. Nice cocktails with slightly limited choice, but this is Brugge so if it’s not beer, it’s just not that important. Beer choice was extensive and I made friends with another fruit beer. The bar snack here are average but plugged a hole temporarily so did the job. Open til 3am.
Frites Van: In market square: Don’t do it! This is where our night ended at 3am. 2 frites, 1 with meatballs and 1 with beef stew. The beef stew was better then the meatballs, but that’s not saying much, I’m pretty sure the meatballs were not meat, or at least not a kind I am familiar with. I still ate it all. It was 3 am and everything else was shut. I’m only human! Maybe just stick with the frites if you must.
Lizzie’s Waffles: Yaaaaay Lizzie! Oh dear lord I salute you and you giant waffles! Absolute must this place. Fresh, huge, light Brugge waffles with your choice of topping. Best waffle in town and possibly best I’ve had to date, anywhere (Apart from my pops homemade Danish ones of course!). The waffles here are an art. Made with care and generosity. We had 1 waffle (it feeds two) half with banana and chocolate sauce and half whipped cream and home made jam. Do not miss this place!
Cambrinus: On our last day we wanted a pretty big lunch as we knew we wouldn’t be home til late. Even though Lizzie had sufficiently filled us to last most the day we headed to Cambrinus. I was craving something cheesy and read good reviews which had mentioned a cracking lasagna. We had tried to eat here the previous night but it was busy and by the time they had a table the kitchen would be closed. The food had looked good hence the return. Cambrinus is half pub half brasserie. It was noisy – it’s quite near the main square and is kid and dog friendly. A little too hectic form my liking but it was a Sunday afternoon. The food however is good solid pub food with generous portions. The lasagna defeated me (or maybe it was the earlier waffle) but I gave it a dam good go! It was good. Very saucy which is not typical for a lasagna but tasty nonetheless. It did have lovely melty bubbly cheese on it so I was easily pleased. I would probably go again if I booked a table at a less kid friendly time. Stop serving food at 10pm. Book a table if you go here for dinner.
Delaney’s Irish pub: Lastly we stopped off here as we found out they were showing the football. It was a quiet part of the day but the pub looks interesting. Unique layout with lot’s of different levels. I can’t comment on what it is like in the evening when busy but I’d for space to sit down and watch sport with table service, it was decent.
Put the guide book down and wonder the streets by foot. Brugge isn’t that big so you will stumble across most sights anyway. The horse and carriage rides are constant on nice weather days – if in doubt see where they go and follow their direction. They all take the same routes and will go past the tourist spots.
Check what time places serve food as most places close early and at intermittent times throughout the day. I would advise you book for dinner or be prepared to wait. Most places stop serving dinner at about 10pm and that is on a weekend! We didn’t quite get the hang of the meal times. Some places do serve food all day but they are in the minority. Graze on the go all day or eat out for a couple big meals a day. Make a choice – you probably wont be able to do both. Or you will and it will hurt.
Don’t fret too much about finding the best chocolates in town. Avoid the obvious chains like Godiva, but really the worst you will get is the worst of a great bunch. You can’t really go wrong. We did stop in a place called Dumon’s Chocolatier which said their chocolates were hand made locally and are a small family run business I believe.
Bring a bottle of water with you when you go out. The only thing I hate about Brugge is that everywhere charges for water (and over charge at that!) and they will not give you tap water. I find paying for water ridiculous and loathe not having a choice as to weather I get bottled or tap. Bring a bottle and fill it up in your hotel.
Don’t save places come across that you think you like to come back to later. With all the walking and places/shops around, you probably won’t go out of your way to fo all the way back. Be an opportunist. If you see something you like go for it, stop, do it, buy it. Little bits along the way.
If taking the Eurostar; give yourself enough time to get back to Brussels. We missjudged it thinking the trains would run every half hour or so, when in fact it was closer to 2 every hour but about 9 mins apart.
My most recommended would be Lizzie’s waffles. Go here any time of day. You don’t need an excuse. Just go. Gran Kaffe De Passage. I loved this place! Highly recommend and would go back any time. Torture Museum. If you want something different and are made of sturdy stuff! Druids bar if you fancy a late night which can get a bit messy and you want to play some pool. The bar guy here was incredibly nice, great service and helpful with beer recommendations. I’d go back for him alone!
Wondering with no plan. Best thing we did was put the guide book down and just wonder.
Til next time!
Places I missed ware the Chocolate Crown – supposedly great hot chocolate. The local bakeries I hear are also great places to buy chocolates for less cost and there was a meringue shop/cafe where they made fresh meringue in front of you that looked sublime – has anyone tried these places?