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Thursday, 29 November 2012

Bruges - Our Recommendations

As explained in my previous post, I recently spent a mini weekend away in Bruges with my sister and my mum. Over all the weekend was fairly cheap - we went from Friday morning to Sunday afternoon and because we travelled by Eurostar, generally the travelling part of the weekend was cheap.

We realized however that Bruges as a city isn't actually as cheap as we hoped! The food is quite expensive and other than sightseeing, the main thing to do in this beautiful city is to shop - so off course it wasn't as cheap as we thought it would be. However we managed to stay in a really cheap B&B and managed to find really cheap places to eat at and cheap things to do so in this post I'll tell you all about these places if any of you ever choose to go!

Accommodation 

We stayed in the beautiful B&B Maison de la Rose which was more than ideal for us. This cosy Bed & Breakfast is only a five to ten minute walk away from the city centre (Bruges is a very small town) and we found that the brief walk was actually enjoyable because it involved walking down lovely cobbled streets and seeing loads of picturesque sights in the process. The B&B is family run and has three large rooms - one of which is family room - as well as a loft/apartment. We stayed in the family 'Grey' room and had more than enough space for just the three of us - we had two large double beds (one of which was made up of two single beds which we could pull apart if we wanted to), a desk, fridge, TV etc and our own en-suite bathroom. Off course the room was warm and clean and was from €63 per night, an extra 10 euros for breakfast which we had on our first morning. The breakfast was delicious and filled us up for the day and we found the owner to be lovely - he gave us a guidebook with all his personal recommendations in it, and we loved that he suggested not only cheaper places but also places that were less for tourists and more for locals which I thought was nice.


B&B Maison de la Rose
Ezelstraat 11, B-8000 Brugge, België

Eating Out

We found that generally, as beautiful as they all were with their crackling fires and festive decorations, most of the restaurants within the main square were quite expensive. So I googled and had a look on trip adviser to find somewhere to eat and we found the recommendation for this real local bar/restaurant called Bierbrasserie Cambrinus. It was literally on one of the streets just behind the main square and we walked in to find it extremely busy and filled with locals, wishing we'd thought to book a table ahead of time. Luckily they had one table spare for an hour before it was reserved again so we took that table and we immediately understood why it was so busy. It had such a warm and friendly atmosphere and we weren't the only English people in there so despite being a favourite for locals, we felt very welcomed. It had an impressive menu of local beer and the waitress recommended some delicious beers for us and was very helpful. We ordered quite a lot for just the three of us - we decided to share everything between us so ordered a selection of hot and cold snacks, some garlic bread and a salad with Goats cheese & Bacon served with Raspberry vinaigrette (whatever that is!). Everything was delicious and overall the food came to just €38 between the three of us. So cheap, especially compared to everywhere else!







Cambrinus,
Mgr Roelensstraat, Ardooie, Flemish Region

It tasted SO good!

On our second day we were quite full up from breakfast so just caught something on the go - we had some beyond yummy hot dogs from one of the stands at the Christmas market (they also did the most delicious Bailey's hot chocolate) and we found there were a few English places to eat too such as a chip shop, Starbucks and Subway. We also stumbled across a craft fayre one of the local schools put on for charity which was situated in one of the beautiful old buildings and they had a Bistro set up there too. That was really cheap and the food was so nice that we went back twice - the coffee was only €1!

Places To Drink

Obviously because we went as a family, going out drinking or clubbing wasn't really on our to-do list but we definitely wanted to try some of the local beer and found one nice bar which we spent a few hours in. Belgian Beer Pub Don Quichotte (what a mouthful!) was this tiny bar we found just off the main square but I loved it, it was so tiny and quirky! There was a nice atmosphere and it was really decked out in some funky deco, as well as having a large selection of beer and loads of different flavours (including chocolate!). Oddly enough, as we first arrived and propped ourselves up at the bar (it was so, so tiny but cute!), I felt like I was in America! We ambled in with our coats, scarves and gloves and it was so warm and inviting that we pulled them all of immediately and got ourselves ourselves comfy at the bar. You could tell it was a real genuine local place, some people had brought board games to play with them! However saying that, again it felt very welcoming and even had the English football on. It really reminded me of the type of pub you'd stumble across out in the cold then come into and just get warm and spend your whole evening in good company, chatting and having a laugh. Naturally I loved it.

Image NOT taken by me, image taken from 365pubs.com, please click image for link.
Belgian Beer Pub Don Quichotte, 
Eiermarkt 14, Brugge, West-Vlaanderen 

Although we didn't actually go clubbing/drinking, whilst in this pub we were obviously in the more lively area of Bruges where people do go for a night out as we spotted loads of pubs and clubs in this area.

Things To Do

Attraction wise, there isn't actually much to do in Bruge. We found some leaflets for an Aquarium and theme park - though we didn't know how far away these were - as well as a show/museum in the centre but this had quite bad reviews. We were quite content strolling around and just enjoying exploring though and getting involved with the culture. We found a lot of guided tours being offered - walking tours, bike tours and even Segway tours! There were also horse drawn carriage rides which I thought were beyond romantic as these ran into the evening when it was dark and all the lights were on. We would have loved to have gone on a bike tour but the weather wasn't nice enough - though really everything was in walking distance anyway.

We did go on a boat tour though which I would absolutely recommend. Bruges is filled with canals and waterways and there's so much you don't see just by walking around - we saw a completely different side of Bruges by boat and it was so lovely.





I can't remember how much the boat trip cost and there were a few different companies offering them but they were all really affordable. Each trip lasted maybe 20-30 minutes and included a commentary about the history of Bruges. It was really nice and something I'd definitely recommend.

Because the city didn't offer many attractions apart from museums and art galleries, I'd definitely suggest visiting during Christmas when there is a lot more on. The Christmas fayre was beyond pretty - each stall had decorations, food, hot drinks etc and then off course there was the actual ice skating rink as well. It was really lovely grabbing a hot chocolate or a hot dog and just wandering around the fayre slowly in the evening, everything lit up, or stopping to watch the ice skaters with Christmas music in the background. It really put me in the Christmas spirit.

And that's another thing about Bruges - they play music EVERYWHERE! Most streets have speakers along them so you'll hear the radio or different music playing as you stroll around - it's all really cheery!

The Chocolate!

Bruges is best known for it's chocolate (and beer, and er lace) and you'll discover that as there are chocolate shops everywhere. You literally cannot get away from them and each and every one was so cosy and inviting, luring me in with many delicious smells and displays of chocolately goodness...yum! Our favourite one however was Chocolatier Dumon - a place we actually found by accident but was so thankful for! We took a different route home one night and stumbled across it, peering through its windows with all it's beautiful displays. It was beyond tiny too, it was literally just one room and a second one kind of on a lower floor. An elderly couple stopped and looked too and told us they knew the owners and had had it recommended it to them - therefore we HAD to find it again the next day when it was open. We did so and were very glad because the chocolate was absolutely delicious and actually quite affordable to! I think we loved it so much because it was recommended to us - a lot of other chocolate shops we found were clearly there for tourists, but this was very genuine and obviously another favourite of the locals.


Chocolatier Dumon, 
Eiermarkt 6, Brugge, Belgium 8000, Belgium

So overall, we had a really nice weekend which was actually quite affordable once we looked around a bit and took into consideration other people's recommendations. I hope that if anyone reading this chooses to go, this post helps a bit! Bruges can be expensive, especially for tourists, but it doesn't have to be if you really want to fit in with the locals. I would also without a doubt recommend visiting around Christmas time too - we went from the 23rd November which was actually just as the Christmas markets started which was very lucky. It's worth noting as well that despite being in the middle of winter, it wasn't actually that cold. Even though it rained a lot one day, because it was such a picturesque city, I don't think it was really a problem as it was a city break as opposed to a summer weekend away to sunbathe!

We had the most amazing time and would definitely go again and visit some of the places listed in this post.

P.S Feel free to check out the travel tag for some more travel related posts!

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