I’m British through and through but nothing says Christmas more passionately than Brugge does each December. The Belgians of course have two celebrations with the Feast of Sint Niklaas coming early in the month!
The city streets are beautifully decked out with twinkling lights and window displays and the main and smaller squares like Market Square and Simon Stevinplein have their stalls selling all kinds of gift, food and drink specialties. It’s a picture book / chocolate box place that you may wander and wonder around in the warmth of their hospitality and friendliness - and in safety.
My ideal 24 hours? I set off on a Friday afternoon straight down the M20 from London and directly into the Eurotunnel terminal from the motorway. Go to the toilet, buy a drink, drive onto the train – 25 minutes of rest – drive off the train, to the end of the tunnel road, turn right and just keep on straight for 55 minutes and there is the Bruges turn-off – 10 minutes later I am parked in the centre. Nothing could be easier and hardly needs a map or GPS!
If I just kept walking around the main central triangle of the city it would only take me some 15 minutes to do so – but there is so much to see that is worthwhile. Ice Skating in Markt, climb the Belfry, eat Flemish beer stew and photograph the canals and picturesque buildings as the sun sets and the sky glows. You are never far away from where your hotel is and it is so easy to take a small break to recuperate and re-energise!
Saturday is market day at Tzand (square next to bus station) – buy wonderful cheeses to take home; visit The Church of our Lady to see the Michelangelo Madonna with Child statue and take a canal boat trip, a museum visit or a romantic Horse and Carriage ride around the cobbled streets. Too much to do – so little time!
Now don’t forget those chocolates, those fresh cream pralines. Much much cheaper than the UK and guaranteed to produce sounds of delight (and quiet munching noises). I also buy ginger bread, chocolate figures and honey waffle biscuits.
Driving home; quickly visit a supermarket in Belgium for very good beer at low prices. Try a jar of Advocaat as this goes great on ice cream or Christmas pudding! Wine is also reasonable in price here.
… and it’s back to Coquilles to catch the train back home. Mission accomplished… Tired and very Happy!
Here’s a link to learn more oldchocolatehouse.com/links.html
Pretty much the only time when food and drink around the Markt square is affordable is every Wednesday morning when it’s taken over by market stalls.
With a range of cheap, fresh and tasty offerings like rotisserie chickens, olives, cheese and international dishes, it’s the perfect place to bag a picnic or stock up on self-catering ingredients.
My tip for visiting Bruges is: go from Brussels on Sunday morning. Get out at the railway station and head into town.
Forget the churches and canals, just wander among the hundreds of bric-a-brac, car boot-type stall holders who cover the parkscape. Odd coins, objects, books, collectables, everything is there! What a treat!
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